Five Things Yoga Won’t Do For You

yoga won'tBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

There are a few things that Yoga won’t do, regardless of what you might have seen on television. Yoga has given most of us so much, such as: reduced stress, improved health, even friendships and a social outlet. However, it’s not a panacea. This practice, art, tradition, and science has many positive facets that contribute to a better quality life, but a human devoted to practice for life will only become an improved version of himself or herself. On the holistic level, practice should cause our health to improve, but nothing in life is guaranteed. With the odds in our favor, most of us will continue to practice, because we experience the rewards on a daily basis. That said, here are five things Yoga won’t do.

 

1) Yoga, alone, will not make you enlightened. Mindfulness is an important part of practice, and regular repetition of relaxation and clearing the mind of extraneous thoughts, will add focus; but enlightenment is not guaranteed. There are contrasting viewpoints about levels of enlightenment. There are also schools of thought where enlightenment is seen as the release from the cycle of rebirth and karma. The bliss experienced during an excellent practice is not the same thing.

 

2) Yoga practice does not require you to shop for a stunning wardrobe. It is not necessary to sport a lotus, or a picture of a goddess, or anything made out of bamboo, in order to practice at home or in a studio. Yogic methods can be practiced in your oldest sweatpants, and it may be even more enjoyable in them. Despite extensive marketing by retailers, buying specialized clothes is not necessary.

 

3) Yoga will not make you become “New Age.” Fortunately, Yoga practice is becoming more mainstream; but assumptions about the “kind of people” who practice asana, pranayama and many other Yogic methods, still persist. Unfortunately, you will not be issued salt crystals, whale songs, patchouli, and a beaded headband at your first class. However, if you are disappointed about the whale songs, below is some music you’ll love.

 

4) Your instructor will not teach you Sanskrit. Depending on the survey data, there are about 14,000 to 28,000 native speakers of Sanskrit in India today, and the language use is, in some ways, comparable to Latin, being a classic language now used for education, research, and reference. Knowing the Sanskrit names of the asanas is useful, however, and will serve you well, if you are a Yoga teacher, or if you ever practice internationally. However, learning the classical names of postures is a far cry from being fluent in a language.

 

5) Yoga won’t make you competitive. Truly an individual endeavor, you will not be required to compare yourself to the person next to you in class, finish 10 sun salutations in 2 minutes, or post your best asana on Instagram. Yogic methodology stresses quality over quantity, and adjustments are made for personal ability levels. You will not be recruited for the adult league or team and win a medal with your Setu Bandha Sarvangasana (Bridge Pose). Your rewards will be enjoyed by you alone.

Co-founder of the Jivamukti Yoga Method, Sharon Gannon, phrases it this way: “You cannot do yoga. Yoga is your natural state. What you can do is practice yoga exercises and methods, which may reveal to you where you are resisting your natural state.” Those of us who practice regularly, know that our natural state is a wonderful place to be.

 

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2 thoughts on “Five Things Yoga Won’t Do For You”

  1. Mindfulness is an important part of practice, and regular repetition of relaxation and clearing the mind of extraneous thoughts. Thanks for sharing this good article.

  2. Mindfulness is an important part of practice, and regular repetition of relaxation and clearing the mind of extraneous thoughts. Thanks for posting this informative article.

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