Alison Rubin, owner and director of Harmony Yoga, has been practicing and teaching yoga in Spokane since 1983. Over the years she has heard many ideas about what yoga is and isn’t and she thought it would be fun to put her thoughts together and share some of her own ideas about the many common yoga assumptions with Natural Awakenings readers.

You must be flexible to practice yoga
This is absolutely not true! Some folks new to yoga are naturally flexible, but there are many more who come to yoga with tight muscles. Through a consistent practice of yoga, you will become more flexible. However, it doesn’t happen overnight; you must be patient and take one day at a time, one posture at a time and one breath at a time.

You have to be skinny to practice yoga
Not at all. In fact, some of the most flexible people are not at all skinny. Yoga is for everyone of all shapes and sizes. The practice can be modified to adapt to all body types.

I can’t do yoga
That’s because yoga is not something that you “do” – rather than forcing your body into the shape of the poses, bring the poses to your body and explore how they can work for you. Try giving yourself the gift of yoga.

A fast practice is better than a slow one
Not necessarily. It depends on what effect you want from your practice. Personally, I like to move a little more slowly because I like easing into the pose and exploring my alignment within the pose. I like to find my breath, and refine my poses, and ultimately settle in for a while. Having said this, sometimes it’s fun to move faster and simply trust the process.

Yoga is a physical practice
Actually, the physical practice of asana (postures) is just one limb of an 8-limbed system. The physical practice is the third limb, flanked by the first two which consist of ethical and personal practices, and the remaining five which consist of pranayama (breathing exercises) and meditation techniques. The physical practice is simply a tool that we can use to keep our body fit and our energy flowing smoothly.

You must stop practicing with an injury
Sometimes this is true when you need to rest or avoid bearing weight. However, I’ve found that most of the time I can tune into the site of the injury and select poses that I think might help and avoid those that I feel would not. Another option is to practice something altogether different for another area of my body and give the injured area a rest.

Yoga is a religion
Nope! The path of yoga consists of practices that help us to live more consciously in relationship with our Self, others and the planet.

Alison Rubin started practicing yoga in 1972. Since then she has trained with many excellent instructors and has taught in Spokane since 1983. She currently owns Harmony Yoga, where she teaches weekly classes and workshops, and offers RYT-200 and RYT-300 teacher trainings. She loves to weave the philosophy of yoga into her classes and endeavors to practice yoga on and off the mat. To learn more, visit Harmonyoga.com.