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Recently I was talking to a coworker about her fitness routine. She was saying that she doesn’t love her lunchtime kickboxing class and wishes she could find a Jazzercise class that would fit into her schedule. I suggested she invite a Jazzercise teacher to our office sometime to teach us during lunch. She looked at me matter-of-factly and said, “No one here would do Jazzercise. They’re into snobby fitness classes—like yoga.” I think it was at that moment that she realized that she was, in fact, talking to one of those yoga snobs because she quickly followed with a “Just kidding!” We both knew that she was as serious as a heart attack. It made me smile because I couldn’t agree with her more. Yoga does have a reputation for being a bit snobby and pretentious.
The truth is, if I hadn’t started taking yoga classes 10 years ago, I think you’d have a hard time convincing me to try it today. Studios look like spas. Yoga students have such advanced asana practices, it’s more intimidating than inspirational. The practice has become synonymous with a dauntingly pure lifestyle that embraces sustainability, veganism, and rising with the sun. But, really. Who actually does all of that? I’m doing well to just eat my veggies and get in a few poses everyday. I know tons of other equally yoga-obsessed people who are just like me.
I’d like to set the record straight and debunk pervasive myths about yoga for all of those folks who are afraid to try it because they think it’s snobby, pretentious, or otherwise inaccessible to them.
Yoga is for flexible people. Yoga isn’t about how flexible you are. Really. If you show up and just do what you can you’ll see that there’s just as much focus on strength, mindfulness, and balance. Improving flexibility is just a small part of a yoga class.
Yoga is for girls. Nah. There are tons of dudes who practice yoga. This includes the manliest of men like athletes, Marines, and celebrities like Alec Baldwin.
Yoga is for health-nuts. There’s something about practicing yoga that increases your awareness and makes you want to do more healthful things for yourself. I very frequently lie in Savasana dreaming up what superfood I can put in my post-yoga smoothie. However, being a health-nut is not a requirement for yoga students. You can eat fast food for every meal and still gain great benefits from yoga—just don’t be surprised if this is something that shifts gradually the more you practice.
Yoga is for rich people. Sure, there are classes that cost $20, $100 yoga pants, and the fanciest yoga retreats you can image. But just because those things exist doesn’t mean you have to partake in them to practice yoga—and having the means to participate in them doesn’t make you a more dedicated or committed yoga student.
Yogis will judge me because I: can’t do the poses/don’t wear the right clothes/eat cupcakes/say curse words/drink alcohol/don’t drive a Prius/etc. This one might be true. But if you feel judged in one class, leave immediately and try a different class, different studio, or different teacher! (Seriously… even if it’s during Savasana.) There are SO many different kinds of classes with so many different vibes I promise you can find one that’s welcoming and just your speed.