Russell Brand does it for 90 minutes a day, Emily Blunt has been papped carrying a mat around LA, and your hippy aunt’s been practicing hatha since it arrived in the UK back in the ’60s.
But what actually goes on inside a yoga class? And is there really a pose that makes you fart like a busted trumpet? Join me as I look at six yoga myths and sort the half-truths from the loads-of-bollocks.
MYTH ONE: It’s Dead Easy
Does this look easy?
While yoga won’t get your heart rate skyrocketing in the first five minutes, classes require proper physical (and mental) strength. There are many different types of yoga, with varying degrees of hardcore-ness. If you’re looking for something challenging, you’ll want to try hot yoga, ashtanga or vinyasa flow.
MYTH TWO: It’s For Hippies Only
Yes, yoga is practiced in bare feet, and some teachers chant “om”, burn candles and witter on about mindfulness, but would you call Robert Downey Jr. a hippy? Or Jennifer Aniston? Or Russell Simmons? Or Madonna? Zachary Quinto? Colin Farrell?
Of course you wouldn’t. They’d all make terrible hippies. Yoga might hail from the East but you don’t need to wear a kaftan to do downward dog. In fact, it’d probably just get in the way.
MYTH THREE: It’s For Women Only
It’s not unusual to be the lone male in a yoga class. However, yoga was designed for men, by men in India, around 5,000 years ago. And men are very good at yoga. Their core and upper-body strength can make light work out of poses such as the forearm balance pincha mayurasana (AKA peacock pose).
It’s also a great opportunity to show off in front of the ladies, with little or no competition.
MYTH FOUR: It’s For Bendy People Only
Many people are put off yoga because they can’t touch their toes – but honestly, it doesn’t take long to become one of those bendy people. Within six months of practicing standing forward bends, your fingernails will be scraping the floor, and five years later your elbows will follow (possibly, maybe). Yoga also makes you taller – it’s akin to a lie-down on the medieval rack, albeit a gentler and more relaxing version.
MYTH FIVE: It Makes You Fart
Since many yogis follow a lentil-icious vegetarian diet and several poses involve sticking your bum in the air, it’s unsurprising that yoga has a reputation for methane-production. There’s even a pose called wind-releasing posture in which you lie on your back and draw the knees into the chest, so…
Having said that, farting is by no means commonplace in a yoga class. At least, no more common than it is in your average field of cows.
MYTH SIX: It Takes Hours And Bloody Hours
Some yoga classes are 90 minutes long, but most are over in an hour. Classes finish with savasana, a 5-10 minute relaxation which involves you lying on your back. Even if you’re badly suffering from smartphone-withdrawal pangs, don’t skip this bit. Not only will it leave you feeling sparkly, it’s important for your body to rest, minimising the aches and pains that you may feel the day after a new workout.