Removing obstacles: Tackling misconceptions and doubts about yoga.

Do you think of yoga as a stretching class?  Do you think you are not “in shape” enough for a yoga class?  Do you think you “can’t” do yoga?

If yes, you are in the majority. If yes, you may have attended a stretching or fitness class that was called yoga. If yes, you have probably seen advertisements with young, flexible people in difficult postures. If yes, let me clear up a few things.

Yoga is not a stretching class

Therapeutic hatha yoga which has remained true to one of the traditional lineages does include muscular stretching components, certainly, but these comprise less than one percent of the total picture of any yoga posture or class. Do you need to be “flexible” to concentrate on your breathing, to hold still, or to try to balance on one foot?  Certainly not. Although improved flexibility is a side effect of hatha yoga, it should never be the goal. Yoga classes that emphasize stretching or reward flexibility can lead to a lot of injury and joint problems.

You do not need to “get in shape” for yoga

One of the best times to start a regular yoga practice is when you are more stressed, more overweight, or more uncomfortable in your body than ever. A therapeutically-oriented yoga community is going to rejoice in your desire to feel better and will support you at every class.

Over the past 13 years, I have worked with individuals with broken bones, 100 pounds of extra body weight, neuromuscular degenerative diseases, less than all 4 limbs, and the inability to walk.

When I started yoga, I was overweight and 10 years into an eating disorder, moderately depressed, and in various types of joint pain and digestive distress. These things healed and have stayed away, but if I had waited to “get in shape” before starting, it never would have happened.

All you need is the desire to heal and the will to try

Would you like to improve and maintain the connection between your brain and your muscles?  Would you like to get rid of your menopausal symptoms?  Would you like to shave dramatic times off of your long-distance runs?  Would you like to be able to tie your shoes when you are 90?  Would you like to naturally reduce or eliminate your panic attacks, anxiety, or seasonal affective depressive symptoms?

If you answered yes to any of these, there is a solution, and it is right here. All it takes is your desire to start again. And your full commitment to yourself and your healing.


Ann Chrapkiewicz, M.A. (Medical Anthropology, MSU), is owner and principal of Bikram Yoga Capital Area. Visit, or learn more by email at  


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