Appropriate responses to non-believers
Depending on your friends, family, workplace, or area you live in, the connotation of yoga differs. Whether or not your surroundings are open to and have an understanding of yoga, there are always going to be non-practitioners who are curious, or possibly even critical. To have you prepared for some of the more common comments from the yoga doubters, below are some appropriate responses to help you explain yourself and your yoga.
So you lead a completely holistic lifestyle, right?
Before answering this question, both you and your accuser should probably know exactly what a holistic lifestyle is. The connotation and common interpretation of holistic is that you only eat organic food and you burn incense all day and believe in free love. If you do, that’s wonderful. But if you don’t, that’s okay too. Holistic by definition means focusing on and caring about your entire being; mind, body, and soul. By this core meaning, yes, yoga is a very holistic activity. So the best answer for this question is to explain what holistic really means and how yoga has changed and improved your entire body and being.
Yoga is just another workout fad.
True, many people just see yoga as another form of exercise and could easily be replaced with any other weight training, stretching, or cardio. Some of us that practice yoga do so for solely fitness reasons, which is fine. Yoga is a great way to workout parts of your body that aren’t usually focused on in other forms of exercise. However to say it is “just a fad” would seem laughable to those that know the long history of the practice. Although the true origins are often debated, there is evidence of early forms of yoga existing over 5,000 years ago. Yoga made its way to the U.S. 100-200 years ago and really became popular in the 1960s. Since then, yoga has done nothing but grow in popularity and availability. Because yoga improves the body as well as the mind, it has become a way of life for many.
Yoga is just for women.
If you are a woman, you’ve likely had men in your class or even as an instructor. If you are a man, obviously you know this is simply not true! There is nothing at the core of yoga that has any particular focus on either of the sexes. The reason for this assumption is more rooted in society’s views on genders than anything else. Yoga is a calm, slow, and flowing practice and does not promote competition or intensity, two factors that are traditionally seen as masculine properties. The idea that any activity is “just for” one sex is a completely outdated way of thinking. A good response to this comment is to bring up that many professional male athletes, including LeBron James, practice yoga along with their training and many teams even have yoga instructors on their payroll.
Yoga is a religious practice.
Yoga predates most modern religions including Christianity, Islam, and even Hinduism, the religion it is usually associated with. True, there are influences of the Indian based religions of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism in yoga because the practice originated in India. However, yoga does not promote or denounce any one religion over another. Yoga can be a very spiritual experience. This spirituality can be integrated with your own religious beliefs, no matter what they may be. Being in touch with your body as well as your mind and spirit is something that transcends all religions. The level of spirituality also depends on the class you are attending or viewing as well as the instructor. Some types of yoga focus more on the physical fitness and others rely a lot on the meditation aspect. As with most things in life, you get in what you put out!
What questions or myths have you encountered from non-yogis and how did you respond? Leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!