I'm not fit or flexible enough
But that's the point! You don't have to be fit or flexible to do yoga. Actually anyone, as long as they are conscious and aware, can do yoga, no matter what their state of health, fitness or flexibility. It is true, some yoga schools are more demanding than others; so it is a matter of choosing a yoga instructor who understands the needs of different people - and your needs. I was taught that a yoga experience is not about achieving the perfect pose (whatever that is), but about stretching comfortably and breathing through your stretch.
I'm too old
See above. You are never too old to do yoga! In fact, the older you are, the more yoga helps you tap into your subtle energy resources. In my experience, older people can be incredibly strong without using much muscle strength - they have developed their prana, or subtle energy. As you get older, you may be drawn towards to more esoteric aspects of yoga, such as prana, the chakras, breathing and meditation.
I'm too busy
Have you heard the saying: "if you don't have time to meditate, it really is time to meditate!" If you feel too busy and stressed, it probably is your mind playing games with you; you may be driving yourself too hard, and it may be high time to review your priorities.
As Dr Dan Siegel, neuropsychiatrist, says about 'Time-In': "When we quietly reflect internally, focusing on sensations, images, feelings and thoughts, we help to better integrate the brain." This is a perfect description of the ideal yoga practice. He recommends Time-In as part of everyone's daily mental platter for sustainable, optimum performance and wellbeing. And this includes you too, mothers; if you take time out regularly, say to go to a yoga class or to meditate, your kids will really appreciate you for it!
Its some kind of religion
Yoga is not a religion - it is a science of body and mind; and of total wellbeing. Because it is neutral, people of absolutely any faith can do yoga. In fact, many people say that yoga practices help them gain more mental clarity, which gives them more insight and understanding of their religion.
Yes, some yoga practitioners use symbols and references to deities, but my personal take is that they are really aspects of oneself; inner resources that we call upon to help us be more effective in different situations.
Its only for girls
No! Many of the yogic sages were men! In India, both men and women practise yoga. In the west, men are just slow to realise the benefits! Beefy America's Cup grinders do it, rugged marathon runners do it, bronzed surfers do it. Wise up guys, and give it a try!
Over the next few months, we will talk about the many benefits of yoga. But don't take my word for it. Practise yoga and find out for yourself!
Copyright Gerald Lopez 2014. Gerald Lopez is a senior yoga instructor at the Yoga Therapy Centre.
Link: Dr Dan Siegel's Healthy Mind Platter