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March IllustrationRecently, I became a qual­i­fied yoga teach­er. I became everything I swore I would nev­er be. A dirty hippy. Namaste.

I wasn’t sure I wanted to go down the yoga teach­er path because I had a lot of pre­con­ceived ideas as to what yoga is and the ‘types’ of people who do it. As much as I love prac­tising yoga, I didn’t want to have to change every aspect of myself in order to do it. I cer­tainly didn’t want to be told I was going to yogi hell because I have a fierce pas­sion for bacon. I didn’t want to join a cov­en of smug women who sac­ri­ficed chick­ens at the winter sol­stice, ate their child’s pla­centa and wore only things made from hemp. Most of all, I didn’t want biceps like Madonna.

It turns out I did not have to worry. Yoga is a lot more ‘nor­mal’ than I ever could have hoped; though, after talk­ing to many friends, it has become clear that I wasn’t the only per­son to have had unfoun­ded yogic appre­hen­sions. I would like to dis­pel the most com­mon yogic myths.

  1. You have to be veget­ari­an. While tra­di­tion­al yogi gurus avoid meat, it is gen­er­ally accep­ted that us mere mor­tals will still devour a chick­en kebab on our way home from Fri­day night drinks.
  2. You have to be flex­ible. This is one of the most com­mon fears about yoga. You don’t need an Olympic medal in gym­nastics. The whole point of yoga is to work with where you are at in the moment, regard­less of wheth­er touch­ing your toes is but a child­hood memory, or you are one of those freaks who can throw their leg behind their head.
  3. Yoga is a reli­gion. Although there is extens­ive philo­sophy behind it, it’s def­in­itely not a reli­gion. So wheth­er you are a staunch Cath­ol­ic or a preachy athe­ist, yoga shouldn’t con­flict with your per­son­al beliefs.
  4. There is only one yoga. There are so many dif­fer­ent types of yoga it makes my head spin. I would recom­mend shop­ping around and find­ing a stu­dio that clicks.
  5. Yoga teach­ers are shouty Nazis who put your back out. If you’ve been yelled at by a yoga teach­er, or been forced to do pos­tures that feel unsafe, you need a dif­fer­ent yoga teach­er. Unless you love that drill-ser­geant approach to exer­cise, you lazy sack of garbage! Drop and give me 20!
  6. Yoga is not for men. Yes it is. In fact, in ancient times yoga was pre­dom­in­antly prac­tised by men. I have to admit there was a time when I found flex­ible men to be quite creepy. But I have changed! There is noth­ing creepi­er than a stressed-out dude with tight ham­mies who yells all the time. These are mod­ern times. The men at the stu­dio where I work are awe­some gen­tle­men who range from teen­agers to seni­or cit­izens. It makes my heart burst with pride to see how far New Zealand’s view on blokey­ness has come. It’s almost like we are in the 21st cen­tury or something!
  7. Yoga won’t help you lose weight. Lies! I had thighs like a rugby league play­er before I swapped my gym mem­ber­ship for yoga. If your body’s in bal­ance it’s a lot more open to digest­ing that cheese­bur­ger than if you are all stressed out by count­ing how many cal­or­ies are in it. Yoga works on build­ing up your energy levels and leaves you feel­ing so good that you’re less likely to cry your­self to sleep with a pack­et of Tim Tams.

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