Have you ever heard any of these cues or statements about yoga and how it can benefit you? If so, you may be hearing a few yoga myths that permeate the yoga world. This is a continuation of a previous blog post with 4 yoga myths and truths. If you’ve already read that one, keep reading here to find out 4 more yoga myths and the reasons why these are myths and not truths.
Myth #1: Your Shin Should be Parallel to the Front of your Mat in Pigeon Pose
Another big NO here. Mine can’t do that, and from what I’ve seen from my teaching career, it’s pretty rare that someone has that kind of range of motion in their hips. Here’s what you should know:
- Pigeon pose comes from having the ability to turn your leg bone open in your hip joint. Everyone’s body is built different, and sometimes people have hip joints that won’t allow this huge range of motion. So the ability to do this is somewhat anatomical, which means it won’t ever change no matter how much you stretch.
- If you don’t have the flexibility or anatomical structure required to do a movement in your body, your body will try to find that flexibility elsewhere. In the case of pigeon pose, it often comes from twisting and tweaking your knee. Not good. Not worth it.
So, how should you be doing pigeon?
Have your leg more folded up. Have your foot closer to your pubic pose rather than thinking of paralleling the shin to the front of your mat.
If you want to learn more about this, make sure to check out my pigeon pose tutorial on YouTube:
Myth #2: Having Muscle Means You Can’t Be Flexible
FALSE. This is an Alvin Ailey dancer. Case in point:
Myth #3: Your Shoulder Blades Should Never Lift
When you reach up to a cabinet in your kitchen to grab a glass, are you aware of how your shoulder blade is moving? Probably not. Go ahead and do it without changing anything. Your shoulder blade lifted up didn’t it? Yes, unless you jammed your shoulder blades down your back, it did. So this is SUPPOSED to happen when our arms go above our head. Without getting into the nitty-gritty anatomy geeky stuff, stop forcing your body to do something it was built to do. If it feels better for your shoulder to lift, chances are it’s supposed to be doing that. Trust your body – it knows and will communicate to you when things are right or wrong.
Myth #4: “Practice and All is Coming”
I might get some backlash on this one, especially from those of you who practice Ashtanga Yoga. If you’re unfamiliar, this phrase was coined by Pattabhi Jois (the big Ashtanga Yoga honcho) in the context of practicing yoga.
Now, before everyone starts freaking out – sure, yes, practicing yoga will make you get better at yoga. That’s not what I’m arguing here.
I’m arguing the extreme that this quote has been taken to. Here are some examples of what I mean:
It Doesn’t Account for Anatomical and Structural Differences
Example #1: Downdog
- If your achilles tendons are short, your heels will never touch the ground (see my original blog with 4 yoga myths for more on this topic and for this visual)
Example #2: Pigeon Pose
- If your hip socket is smaller, your leg probably won’t ever get parallel to the front of the front of your mat. Your thigh bone will hit your hip bone trying to do so and it probably won’t feel great.
Example #3: Splits
- Same ideas a pigeon pose. If your hip socket doesn’t have the room in it for your thigh bone to move completely forwards and back, front splits probably aren’t in the cards for you.
And all of this is completely OK and should be normalized in yoga. Your body is not mine or your neighbors, so why should your yoga practice look exactly the same? It should not.
So those are my 4 yoga myths. Here are some questions for you – drop me a comment with your answers:
- Do you have any others you think belong on this list?
- Not sure about a cue you heard in class?
- Anything unclear?