Yoga has been known since at least the 2nd century BC. Yoga entered the Western world in the late 19th and early 20th century and gained great popularity in the 1980s as a system of physical exercises, although in India it includes not only physical exercises, but also meditative and spiritual components.
Yoga is a combination of various spiritual, mental and physical practices developed in different directions of Hinduism and Buddhism and aimed at managing the mental and physiological functions of the body in order to achieve an elevated spiritual and mental state by the individual.
In India, it is believed that the practice of yoga has a healing effect and that it helps a person overcome various ailments. In 2016, UNESCO, noting the significant impact on numerous aspects of Indian society in the fields of health, medicine, education and the arts, included yoga in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Since many people do not quite understand what yoga is, we propose to consider a number of the most common misconceptions associated with this wonderful system of self-healing.
1. Yoga can only be practiced by an “oriental person”
This is not true. Yoga cannot belong to any people or any territory. The division into West and East is mostly artificial. At the time of the origin of yoga, there was no such division. Of course, it is necessary to adjust the methods depending on the specific conditions, and then Europeans, Africans, and residents of the Far North can practice yoga, and with a reasonable approach, yoga classes will only bring benefits.
2. To practice yoga, you need to be a very prepared person
Such an opinion may arise from a person who has seen in some books photographs of yogis in intricate poses, which, as it seems, no normal person can repeat. But after all, those who are depicted in these photographs did not start at all with these poses, but with easier and more accessible ones. In addition, for those who do not set themselves the goal of achieving some special results in Hatha Yoga, it is not at all necessary to perform complex postures. And to maintain a good level of health and to work on oneself, it is quite enough to practice two or three dozen postures, the performance of which is quite accessible even to not very well-trained people.
3. Yoga is a religion
Yogis respect different religions and their representatives. But at the same time yoga is not a religion. This is something between science and religion, because yoga is characterized, on the one hand, not by blind faith, but by the desire to come to the proof of something through personal experience, and on the other hand, yoga does not deny such concepts as God, Soul and Spirit. A person practicing yoga can be a Christian, a Buddhist, a Muslim, or a representative of any other religion.
4. Yoga is asceticism (a strict lifestyle with the rejection of life's pleasures)
Of course, this is not true. Such an opinion is spread only out of ignorance. In Christianity in all ages there were also many ascetics who mortified their flesh, but nevertheless, no one puts an equal sign between asceticism and Christianity, while for some reason yogis are considered ascetics. Of course, there are ascetics among yogis, but in general, yoga and asceticism are still different things.
The Yoga Bible Bhagavad Gita says: “If a person eats too much or too little, sleeps too much or too little, it is impossible for him to become a yogi... material suffering by doing yoga.
5. Yoga is mystic
No, yoga is not mysticism, but rather a science (or, as already noted, a cross between science and religion). The idea of yoga as a mystical teaching appeared due to the fact that for a long time yoga was a closed teaching.
After all, yoga is a huge knowledge about the structure of the world, which gives great opportunities to control people. If knowledge of this kind falls into the hands of people who are not ready to perceive it correctly, then this can cause great harm to other people. That is why yoga was not accessible to everyone. As for mysticism and the occult, then, in fact, the occult teachings are pieces of yoga taken separately. Almost all mystical and occult schools started from yoga. Another thing is that they did not always develop in the right direction.
6. The main thing in yoga is the development of superpowers
This is not true. Indeed, thanks to yoga, one can develop what is commonly called superpowers. It is possible, but is it necessary? After all, this will take a lot of time and energy, which can be used with much greater benefit.
There is an old legend about a student who wanted to learn how to walk on water. He spent a lot of time on this, almost his whole life, and eventually learned to walk on water. And then he came to a teacher who lived nearby and said, "Master, let's go to the river, I'll show you what I've learned." – "OK, let's go". They came to the river, and this student crossed the river from one side to the other, and then came back and asked: “Well, how?” “How many years have you been studying this?” the Teacher asked. “Twenty years,” the student answered proudly. "Wow," said the Master, "look, I'll do the same." And, having called the boatman, he crossed with him to the other side, and then returned back. "I'm sorry you wasted so much time," Master said as he parted.
If a person develops harmoniously, then he may have such abilities, but here you need to remember one important point – you need to be able to manage these abilities.
7. Physical exercises in yoga are absolutely safe for health
Yoga is certainly not a sport, however, some people who practice yoga can suffer physical injuries similar to sports injuries. A survey conducted among yoga practitioners in Australia showed that about 20% of practitioners were physically injured as a result of yoga. During the previous 12 months, 4,6% of those surveyed had experienced an injury that caused prolonged pain or required medical attention. Headstands, shoulderstands, lotus and half-lotus positions, forward and backward bends, and handstands have caused the most injuries.
Among the main reasons causing negative consequences, experts cite the “competitive spirit” of newcomers and insufficient qualifications of instructors. As the demand for yoga courses grows, many people often become certified yoga instructors after not enough training. Not every new certified instructor can assess the condition of every new student in their course and recommend refraining from certain postures or using appropriate supports to avoid injury. In turn, a beginner yoga student may overestimate the capabilities of his body and strive to perform complex postures before his body is flexible or strong enough to perform them.
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