6 Things Not to Say to Someone Who Does Yoga

One of yoga's benefits is becoming more comfortable with both our bodies and our lives. Achieving this goal requires that we practice non-judgmental awareness and compassion towards those who may not agree with or understand our lifestyle choices.

As our yoga practice and belief systems continue to expand and evolve, it is important to handle other people's opinions with as much grace and composure as possible. This can be referred to as "practicing yoga off the mat."

If you want to better support a yoga practitioner's pursuit of a deeper mind, body, and spiritual connection, here are six things to avoid saying to them. Each one also includes a mindful, yet respectful comeback you can use if you should ever find yourself on the receiving end of these remarks.

1

You Don't Seem Like the Kind of Person Who Does Yoga

Group of people meditating in a yoga class
andresr / Getty Images

This comment passes judgment on both the yoga student and the entire discipline of yoga in one fell swoop. Yet, there isn't just one type of person who follows a dedicated yoga practice.

A 2016 survey revealed that roughly 36.7 million Americans practice yoga. Included in this number is both men (28%) and women (72%), as well as people from all different age groups.

A 2017 national survey reported an even higher number, citing that one in seven adults and one in 12 children have done yoga at least once in the last year.

So, if someone were to say this to you, you could respond by sharing this data and ending with, "Fortunately, yoga is for everyone. If you ever want to try it, let me know. We are happy to welcome every type of person to our class."

2

I Bet Your Husband/Wife/Sexual Partner Likes That You Do Yoga

Couple sitting outside back to back

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While there is ample evidence that yoga can improve your sex life, most of the changes are on a subtle, internal level and may even be more mental than physical.

Some studies have connected greater sexual motivation and consciousness with the mindfulness created with a yoga practice. Others have found that practicing yoga can help increase arousal and improve the body's biological responses when a sexual dysfunction exists.

Yet, this doesn't mean that you have to divulge private information about your sex life just because someone makes this comment. How can you respond with grace and ease?

A graceful response to this statement could include, "While I appreciate your concern for my love life, I'd rather keep that conversation between myself and my partner. But if you ever want to know what yoga can do for your sex life, you may want to come to a class!"

3

I Can't Do Yoga Because I Can't Touch My Toes

Woman attempting to touch her toes
rjlerich

There's actually a minimal amount of toe touching in most yoga classes, and it's certainly not a prerequisite. Plus, many of the poses that do involve touching the toes can be modified if this flexibility doesn't exist.

For example, when doing Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana), if you can't touch your toes with the legs straight, you can bend the knees. And if you still can't touch your toes with your knees bent, that's okay too.

Plus, doing just six weeks of yoga can help improve flexibility in the hamstrings and erector spinae (deep muscles around the spine). This may enable you to touch your toes in the not too distant future.

Based on this, you might reply, "That's why you might want to try yoga. We spend a lot of time stretching the hamstrings so that, one day, you may be able to touch your toes. But whether you eventually do or not, it doesn't matter. How yoga makes you feel matters most."

4

You Like Getting Sweaty in a Jillion-Degree Room While Someone Yells at You?

Woman practicing hot yoga

Matt Cardy / Getty Images

There are many opinions, misconceptions, and even some scandals connected to hot yoga. However, this form of yoga has many benefits that practitioners around the world enjoy. In one survey, the most frequently reported benefits included:

Of course, hot yoga isn't for everyone, because it can increase your body's core temperature and heart rate, while also making you sweat more. Therefore, it can increase your risk of dehydration if you don't rehydrate your body effectively.

Taking proper precautions, drinking a lot of water, and consulting with your doctor before taking a hot yoga class can help ensure that it is safe to do. And you normally sweat while exercising, so how is this any different?

A good response to this question is to say, "If only you knew how amazing it was. There are many benefits to hot yoga. Let me know if ever you want to join me."

5

Show Us a Headstand/Backbend/Crazy Arm Balance

yoga wheel-supported headstand
www.yogaandphoto.com / @yogaandphoto

You may hear this statement in group settings or at parties. Some people are naturally fascinated by the flexibility yoga creates and consider seeing you in a complex pose a form of entertainment.

Never feel tempted to go into performance mode. Do what feels best for you. Your yoga happens on your time, on your mat. It's not circus tricks. Also, if you're not warmed up, you could injure yourself.

Invite the people who really want to see your asanas (poses) in action to join you for a class sometime. You might say, "I'm excited that you're interested in the yoga practice! If you want to take a class together, let's schedule it."

6

So, Are You Totally at Peace and Enlightened Now?

Woman doing yoga pose in water

Cultura / Jeremy Wilson / Getty Images

There is a misconception that while practicing yoga, you will reach enlightenment. Although this can be an intention as we devote ourselves to the practice, enlightenment can also be experienced in fleeting moments throughout the day.

Enlightenment is nothing more than that "ah-ha" moment when things become clearer. Certainly, you can have these moments during a yoga session—like when doing breathing exercises—but you can also have them while in the shower or when waiting in line at the supermarket.

Therefore, if someone questions whether you are enlightened or at peace as a result of your yoga practice, a good answer is, "That is always the goal, my friend." It may not be the answer they're looking for, but it is representative of the journey that is yoga.

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