Making Unrealistic Claims About Yoga - Aura Wellness Center

Making Unrealistic Claims About Yoga

Kneeling Side Plank VariationBy Azahar Aguilar

Unrealistic yoga claims. As teachers, you’ve all been there before. Either to overhear others or to hear the words come out of your mouth,  “Yoga is like a natural sleeping pill, an anti-anxiety medication, a weight-loss goldmine, prevents heart attacks, and will make you live past 100 years old with the face of a 20-year-old.  It’s true! My sister’s best friend’s brother’s neighbor is 101 and swears by it.”


With the spread of yoga worldwide from India over the past century, especially mainstreamed in the West within the past two decades, misconceptions inevitably pop up and dilute the truth.  Frustrated students may walk away if the practice is not discussed and taught clearly.

So, when do claims become more hearsay than fact, and where do you draw the line with exaggerations that yoga will make people superhuman?

Do Your Research to Clarify Explanations

As an instructor, you come from a place of love for your students. Just like it is difficult to describe the feeling of love, it is difficult to interpret how yoga changes a person’s mindset, attitude, body, and ailments over some time. While it may not be eloquent, studies with demonstrated scientific facts often help clearly outline what benefits exist in a particular posture, just as with what the brain does under the influence of love.

Unfortunately, the number of scientific yoga studies is small compared to the practice’s long existence. Yet, millions of incredible personal stories about yoga and its excellent benefits exist. So, where to start?

A recent resource, The Science of Yoga, written by yogi William Broad, outlines scientific studies along with his own experience of the practice for several decades. He references different medical publications and the research behind certain postures or benefits of yoga. While controversial, it is a good starting point for anyone interested in a rounder opinion of yoga.


Enjoy the Journey

Have fun with your research, and your classes will benefit from claims you regularly tell your clients, such as how yoga reduces anxiety. Peace of mind will follow as you solidify the sources of benefits in specific yoga asanas and know what exaggeration sounds like.

Accumulate a list of publications as a resource to refer students or friends to. Memorize a couple of the facts for ease of conversation, short of carrying various yoga studies around in your yoga pants. It also will help those who challenge your statements!

While a specific study may have one outcome, students must also remember patience, dedication, and realistic expectations.

If you do decide to personally speak about a specific asana or style of yoga and how it has helped you (because personal stories are so powerful), just be sure to highlight the fact that every person, everybody, and every circumstance is different.

Make Satya a Priority

If you have a question about yoga, the best place to look for the answer is within yoga itself – specifically, in the Yoga Sutra, the art of living. Satya is nestled in the Yamas (Universal Morality) in this eight-limbed yoga path.

Satya is to speak the truth.  Consider what, how, and the effect your reality and the truth have on people.  Satya states that honest communication is free from exaggerations, mistruths or deliberate deception that would hurt others.


Balancing the Truth and Passion

As a yoga teacher, it is natural to be infused with excitement when telling anyone who will listen, mainly an enthusiastic new student, about the fantastic benefits this practice holds. However, it is essential to balance this love with truth and patience. While all you want to do is inspire a new yoga student, frustration may set in too early if his or her expectations are sky-high or extremely specific.

Take the time to highlight the fact that every person has his or her own experience with yoga and should try as many different kinds of yoga as possible until s/he finds one that speaks more personally to him or her. The pillars of patience and gentleness should weave throughout this journey.

Remind yourself and your students that yoga is just one branch of eight in the philosophy of a true life of yoga.  Meditation, kindness practice, breath work, and other disciplines will round out the mind and body and balance specific claims.

Speak from a Place of Educated Truth

Yoga has many healing properties and can do many amazing things.  It is a sacred practice, from mind to body and the energy in between.  When a practice incorporates body, mind, and spirit, it’s little wonder most of the claims have a base in truth.

So, while you highlight studies and personalized benefits for practitioners, it is essential to equalize the information and remind practitioners to listen to their bodies, for every day is different. Encourage your students to take it slow, research independently, and use yoga as just one tool in the path to a whole and healed self.


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3 thoughts on “Making Unrealistic Claims About Yoga”

  1. An instructor must not make unrealistic claims about yoga just to impress his or her students. It is true that some students have high expectations on what yoga can do to them, but this doesn’t count as a reason to give them false hopes. Give them facts based on research and highlight the fact that every person has his or her own experience with yoga.

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