Two common yoga myths are (1) that yoga means forcing your body in funny shapes and (2) that doing yoga is about working hard and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. The truth is:
Yoga means union — it’s about uniting mind and body, breath and movement, values and actions, consciousness and spirit. There are 8 limbs of yoga, and only one of them (asana) is what we think of as yoga today: putting your body into funny shapes. The other 8 limbs include things like meditation and living according to values like non-harming and truth-telling. Any time your awareness is focused on a sense of harmony between the *deeper you* and your external actions, you are practicing yoga.
The physical practice of yoga can be easy — the style of Power Vinyasa that has become so common around the world (moving quickly through postures, taking “flows” in-between) is an amazing workout, but it’s not traditional yoga nor it is the only way to practice. (It was actually invented in Los Angeles in the 1980s.) The foundational texts of yoga only say one thing about asana (physical practice): that it should be “steady and comfortable.” In my experience, it’s way more beneficial to find steadiness and ease in a more basic expression of a posture than to force yourself to keep up in a yoga fitness class.
So, if you’re curious about yoga but intimidated by a lack of physical endurance or flexibility, don’t be! Try beginners, slow flow, gentle or restorative classes. If you’re in a more challenging class, the point is not to keep up with others or push yourself. (Save that mindset for CrossFit!) The point is to connect the reality of your mind and body in that class, on that day, find steadiness and comfort in that place, and then gently allow your mind-body to shift over time.