By Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500
What are the most common objections to Yoga classes? If you are a regular practitioner, or you teach Yoga classes, it is hard to imagine an objection to something with so many benefits. Let’s think outside the box toward the most common objections to Yoga, for us to consider, when welcoming new students into the studio. As Yoga teachers, we must accept that we cannot make everyone happy, but we can do our best to make them comfortable when they enter our classes.
Come to Yoga class with me this time.
All of her friends have been inviting her to Yoga class; she has seen classes advertised everywhere from the college campus to the mall, and yet, she just does not want to go. She has heard all about the benefits of a steady practice, would love to reduce her lower back pain; she tries to eat well, and take care of herself, but she is in a health rut.
We all know this person – the friend who would love Yoga, if she just gave it a chance. Here are five of the most common complaints that people have about Yoga training, and how to respond encouragingly.
I’m not flexible enough for Yoga.
Most images of asanas (Yogic postures), in the media, focus on extreme examples of headstands, deep backbends, and Yogis who sit in lotus position for years at a time. Explain that being extraordinarily flexible is not necessary, and that anyone can modify any pose for comfort. After all, seeing a professional basketball player dunking a basketball in a sports magazine does not prevent one from playing one-on-one in the driveway, does it?
Yoga is boring.
Most of us love to keep busy. We fear we may be “wasting time,” if we simply sit still and take care of our health for an hour. When someone is not used to quiet, and is alone with their thoughts, they often interpret that time as “boring.” Mention, that practicing focus, has been shown to improve productivity. The phenomenon of trying to remember something, only to have it come to you later, is an example of how fruitful the brain can be when left alone for a moment.
You have to chant in Yoga class.
Chanting is part of some Yogic practices, but some classes may say only “Om” or “Namaste” at most. Some Yoga classes do not chant or speak any Sanskrit. No one will ever be required to chant in a practice. Think of it as the National Anthem at the beginning of a baseball game: It is a rousing start that is optional for participation.
I don’t know the names of the poses.
Much like ordering off a menu at an exotic restaurant, the names of techniques might be unfamiliar at first. However, every Sanskrit name has an English name too, and there will be no quiz at the end of class. Simply watch and follow along.
I feel foolish doing it.
Attempting activities, not yet mastered, makes many adults feel foolish. However, stretching the brain cognitively will literally improve your health. Abbott Northwestern’s stroke program director, in the Neurocritical Care Unit, Dr. Ronald Tarrel, advises that forging new neural pathways makes a person happier and healthier.
Brain fitness creates results in faster deductions, calculations, reactions, problem solving, and clearer thinking, as well as improved memory and reasoning skills. Consider the foolish feeling, the “burn” that comes with exercising muscles not much used. Objections to Yoga will come and go, but it is up to teachers to make the benefits known.
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