Does the Media Image of Yoga Stop People From Giving it a Go?

Our popular contributor Kara-Leah has written her second book, The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga. Pre-sales have just started, and you’re invited to be involved. Read more below. 

by Kara-Leah Grant, author of The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga

I’m in Auckland, New Zealand back in 1995, which seems a long, long time ago.

I’ve dropped out of my second year at University – ostensibly because my back issues and serious sciatic pain made sitting for lectures impossible , but there were other, deeper reasons too. (i.e. my habitual response when facing serious challenge – run!)

Regardless, I was in chronic back pain and a good friend suggested we go and do a ten week beginners Iyengar yoga course that his friend was teaching.

Now this was before the internet, before yoga selfies, maybe even before Yoga Journal had found it’s way to New Zealand.

I have no recollection what-so-ever of knowing what yoga was, or what it looked like. I can’t remember even having seen a yoga posture.

Certainly there was no great wealth of resources freely available like you’ll find here on Anmol’s website. 

All I knew was that I was in pain, I could barely move, I had serious flexibility issues and my friend seemed to think that yog might help – whatever this yoga thing was.

I turned up, and despite my limited range of mobility and pain, was well-looked after and supported into postures with multiple props. (Iyengar Yoga can be a great foundation for beginner yogis).

I wonder though, if I was in the same physical position today, would I have made it to yoga class?

Why the difference?

Because now we’re inundated with thousands of yoga images and selfies in our social media streams.

 Now, yoga is a multi-billion dollar industry and images of asana and meditation are used to sell everything from soft drinks to cleaning products and clothing.

Now, everyone knows what yoga looks like – right? It looks super-flexible, slim, gorgeous and young – mostly.

Therefore, if I were contemplating starting yoga in 2014, would I have this image of yoga as something that fit, gorgeous, bendy people do and therefore something that was not for me?

It’s a question that’s impossible to answer.

Yet I suspect that there are now probably hundreds if not thousands of people out there who would love to try yoga but don’t because it’s really intimidating to go to your first yoga class – especially if you don’t look anything like the common image of a yogi.

 Some of them may even be reading this website, looking to find out information before venturing off to their first yoga class.

Back in 1995, I was fortunate. Pain and total inflexibility were the only things holding me back and I had a caring and patient friend who literally hand-held me to my first yoga class.

But what about those who don’t?

What about all those people who would love to try yoga but are put off by the clothing required, the perceived level of flexibility required, the weird language that’s used, the strange sounds you might make or the confusion of all the styles of yoga available?

What about all those people who might have dabbled in yoga, but are now asking how do you find a good teacher? How do you know if someone is a good teacher? How do you decide which style of yoga is for you? What if you don’t want to do postures – is there something else you can do that’s yoga?

These are the people I’ve written The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga for – I’ve taken my experiences of yoga over the last fifteen years and distilled it down into a book so I can hand-hold people into their first yoga class and beyond.

As part of my commitment to broadening the yoga student base, I’m donating $1 from every print copy of The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga to the Yoga Education in Prisons Trust plus 5% of e-copies. This is in addition to the $1 per copy of Forty Days of Yoga and 5% of online copies I donate.

I want No-More-Excuses to be the kind of book that people buy for their friends, because they know it will support them as they start their yoga journey. 

Yoga changed my life and my world, and it began with that first Iyengar class back in 1995. I’m forever grateful to the friend who took me to class, and the teachers who made me feel welcome and comfortable.

Now I hope this book can provide the same type of service to the hundreds and thousands of people out there who want to try yoga but are afraid, for whatever reason, to make it to their first yoga class.

About Kara-Leah

Kara-Leah is a writer and yoga teacher who has always been infinitely curious about the make-up of the human psyche and body. Regular yoga helped her heal and recover from chronic back issues, including a spinal fusion at age 16, and two episodes of psychosis at age 29. 

Her daily home yoga practice began in earnest when people kept asking her to teach them yoga.  She’s since trained as a teacher with Shiva Rea, and immersed herself in practicing, teaching yoga and writing about yoga. Kara-Leah lives just outside of Queenstown, New Zealand with her son Samuel. 

She’s the publisher of The Yoga Lunchbox and published her first book, Forty Days of Yoga – Breaking down the barriers to a home yoga practice in 2013. Her second book, The No-More-Excuses Guide to Yoga, has just been releasedShe’s also a regular contributor to the Elephant Journal 

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