By Nsa Ntuk
Yoga is slowly become a buzz word in the health and wellness field, especially in the stressed out city of Lagos. However it’s also a controversial topic based on some misconceptions.
When people hear I am a certified yoga instructor in Lagos these are the 2 most common reactions: “Ohhh I have been meaning to try yoga!” OR “Oh I hope it’s not the spiritual kind, I don’t want to become Hindu or channel spirits.”
First let’s understand what is yoga exactly?
Yoga is a physical exercise where you breathe slowly and steady in physically challenging poses. The mindfulness in yoga helps you to be “fully aware” of the present moment without reacting to external circumstance.
Clinical studies at Harvard have proven yoga reduces stress and stress related diseases like high blood pressure, improved overall fitness and aids in weight control.
In a Proud Journey yoga class, you start by sitting in silence to focus on your breathing, and then you proceed to do yoga poses that involve balancing, twisting and stretching. Some poses will challenge you, yet the goal is to keep breathing and remain calm. After working up a sweat we end class with a few minutes of rest.
Now let’s debunk some common misconceptions and myths!
“I have to flexible before doing yoga.”
A common fear I hear is, “I would be bad at yoga.” What that really means is, “I don’t want to embarrass myself when I can’t touch my toes!” I totally understand not wanting to look bad but the truth is: yoga will help you improve your flexibility.
In yoga, we attribute the fear of looking bad or not being perfect to the ego. You are more than your ego, and yoga is about seeking balance and improving your health without looking like the pretzel shapes you see on Instagram.
Yoga is truly a practice of “loosing up.” To really enjoy yoga try to loosen your mindset first. Do not taking yoga so serious. If you are a beginner, start at the beginning – there is no “winning” in yoga.
“Yoga won’t burn calories and I need to loose weight so what’s the point?”
A Harvard Medical Review study proves yoga help you loose weight. In the study those who were overweight, lost weight and those who were not avoided weight gain in the future. Mindful eating is part of the yoga weight loss solution.
Did you know there is a hormone that makes it hard to loose belly fat? That hormone is called Cortisol and it is triggered by stress. So reducing stress through yoga will calm your nervous system down and in turn your belly fat won’t be holding on for dear life! A study at Yale has proven the connection of cortisol and belly fat
Yoga is based on the Hindu or Eastern religion or a strange form of devil worship.
Yoga is not a religion. It is a mindfulness practice to keep your mind present while you strengthen and stretching your body.
Speaking from experience I have been practicing yoga for almost 10 years and I have not had any demonic attacks. The thought of it makes me laugh! I am Catholic by faith and yoga has not interfered with my religion. When I am relaxed it is easier to connect with God.
Let’s look at history: Yoga is commonly known as originating in India but there is more to the story than that! Yoga poses can be found drawn on walls of Egyptian artifacts that date back over 5,000 years ago. It’s a very murky history but Indian yoga teachers that went to America popularized modern yoga. Perhaps someone assumed that since one religion in India is Hindu, that yoga must be Hindu. However yoga is NOT Hindu worship.
Yoga is not intended to be a religious activity.
What more important than this myth is the studies that prove yoga improves your cardiac health, fitness endurance, weight loss, relieve back pain and can even relieve insomnia. Make your health a priority and you will live a long enjoyable life!
About the author:
Nsa Ntuk is the a Certified Yoga instructor E-RYT 200 and founder of Proud Journey Yoga offering yoga classes, Certified Yoga Teacher Trainings and yoga retreats in Lagos. Learn more about her here: www.ProudJourney.com