The other day, I was talking with a friend of mine who loves to golf. She was complaining about pain in her lower back and hips, and she told me that her golf swing was not as powerful as it used to be. When I suggested that she give yoga a try, she looked at me with a perplexed expression and said, “I can’t do yoga. I’m not flexible enough.”
Yoga teachers hear this ALL. THE. TIME!
Guess what? People don’t practice yoga because they are flexible… they practice yoga to become or stay flexible. We’ve all heard the expression, “Use it, or lose it.” It applies to flexibility, as well.
When I explained this to her, she said she didn’t have all the yoga “stuff” or enough time, and asked, “Isn’t yoga just a bunch of woo-woo stretches?”
I said, “Try three yoga sessions with me, and not only will you release tension in your hips and lower back, but you’ll also improve your golf game.”
Whether or not you play golf, keep reading to find out why if you can breathe, you can do yoga!
Myth #1: I need a bunch of equipment and special clothes to do yoga
Unlike a lot of other forms of exercise, yoga doesn’t require any special equipment. We don’t even wear shoes or socks! Sure, a grippy yoga mat made of natural rubber is great, but you could use a beach towel to get started. I imagine you have a wall and a chair in your house. These are helpful supports for balancing poses, inversions like legs up the wall, and hip stretches. While I love my Jade cork blocks, you could use a large water bottle or a stack of books to lift the floor up to you in certain poses. A scarf, belt, or hand towel can be used in place of a yoga strap, and a blanket can add extra padding beneath the knees or hips. If you don’t have recovery rounds for myofascial release, tennis balls make a perfect substitute. As for the special yoga clothing excuse… you can wear anything that allows you to move with ease and comfort.
Myth #2: Yoga is just stretches
Yes, stretching and releasing tension in the muscles is part of a yoga practice, but it’s also about building strength in the core, upper body, and legs. The word yoga means union. We are trying to unite or create balance within the body and mind. A consistent yoga practice can boost heart and lung function, improve your immune system and mood, increase flexibility, build strength, and help with stress management. And, yoga isn’t just physical postures. The breathing techniques can help you improve your lung capacity while slowing your thoughts. It is literally a full body and mind practice.
Myth #3: Yoga is woo-woo spiritual stuff
Although yoga began as a spiritual practice in India thousands of years ago, it is actually a science with an abundance of research to support its benefits. Can yoga really improve cardiovascular disease risk factors? Check out this study. Want proof that yoga can help with anxiety? Here’s a study that shows how beneficial mindfulness can be in reducing stress. Yoga has even been shown to help people sleep better!
When you dive deeper into the philosophy of yoga, you will find suggestions for living in harmony with yourself and others. But if your purpose for practicing yoga is purely physical (to release tension in your hips and lower back to improve your golf game), get on your yoga mat and start!
Myth #4: I don’t have time for yoga
In the amount of time it’s taken you to read this blog post, you could have done a few rounds of cat and cow to release your lower back and create space in your belly and practiced tree pose to improve your balance and strengthen your core.
Although rolling out your yoga mat and taking a 60 minute class is fantastic, if you can commit to just 5 minutes a day, you will probably notice some changes in your body and mind.
Try it now… close your eyes and take 5 slow, deep breaths. Open your eyes and notice how you feel. Then, give yourself a pat on the back… you just practiced yoga!
Myth #5: You have to be flexible to do yoga
Practicing yoga is a way to improve your flexibility. If you feel like the tin man, try bending your knees in forward folds, use props (like blocks or blankets) to lift the floor up to you in pigeon pose, lunges, and seated postures, and be patient. Yoga is a practice, and each time you step on the mat, you are making a commitment to prioritizing your physical and mental health.
I’m ready to give yoga a try. Now what?
You’re ready to increase your core strength, improve your flexibility, and sleep better with yoga, but how do you get the most out of your yoga practice?
First, find a qualified yoga instructor with plenty of experience (at a minimum, your instructor should have taken a 200-hour training course). Then, read her website or social media posts to be sure you’re on the same page. Reach out with any questions before you sign up for your first class or 1:1 session.
Hello! I’m Heather Gagnon, ERYT, M.Ed., and I’ve been sharing yoga with our community since 2007. Being present, focused, and mindful is a daily practice, but yoga helps me balance the adventures of my life. I’d love to help you find peace within yourself!
If you have specific concerns (ie: I want to improve my golf swing or my lower back and hips are constantly tight), a private yoga session is the best way to address your specific needs. We can meet online or in person (if you’re local in the Bel Air-area). For more information about private yoga sessions with me, check out my website.
Let’s practice together!