Breaking yoga stereotypes

Breaking Yoga Stereotypes

Debunking long-held yogic myths - By Sarah Highfield

Reading time: 4 minutes

A shift has been brewing in the world of yoga; less and less, the stereotypes which have long been associated with yogis are no longer applicable. As yoga is embraced by larger and more diverse audiences, the yoga landscape has dramatically changed.

There was once a time when you might be able to look at someone and instantly have a hunch that they practice yoga because of their appearance, demeanour or job. However, nowadays, yogis are incredibly wide-ranging, from different backgrounds and professions, and with different outlooks and habits.

Allow me to break down some of the biggest stereotypes and debunk them once and for all.

Yogis are all women: Yoga studios used to be 99% full of women, with the odd man hiding in the back row, but men are increasingly discovering the wonderful benefits of integrating yoga into their lifestyles. Many yoga studios today are reporting more men signing up and seeing a shift in female-to-male ratios across all classes.

Yogis are all hippies: Yoga is no longer the domain of hippies. Today, a varied cross-section of people from all walks of life and backgrounds partake in the ancient practice. Yoga is just as much a part of everyday life for corporate business people as it is for non-corporate people. Furthermore, there are so many different styles of yoga that every personality is catered for.

Yogis stick to a vegan diet: A yogic lifestyle encourages non-harm and following ayurvedic food guidelines, which leads many towards a vegan or vegetarian diet, however, it does not necessarily mean that all yogis follow that path. While some yogis choose to extend their yoga practice and choices to their diet, others keep their practice on the mat.

Yogis must be spiritual: The practice of yoga is an individual one and there is a scale on which spirituality is incorporated into one’s yoga routine. Some yogis argue that yoga without spirituality is ‘just stretching’ but spirituality is a personal choice and not something that should be judged.

Yogis are very flexible: Flexibility plays a role in the physical practice of yoga but it is not a prerequisite of being a ‘good yogi’ — it is merely a small part of something greater. The more important reasons to do yoga, especially the internal ones and the ones that really matter in the long term, are what should be emphasised and promoted.

Sarah Highfield is yoga teacher, three-time OM cover model and frequent contributor. Visit: or find her on Instagram @Yogagise

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