Yoga: Unraveling the Misconception of Flexibility

23 Min Read


The popular misconception that yoga solely centers around flexibility has been propagated in recent times, largely due to the influence of social media platforms such as Instagram. However, yoga instructors unequivocally emphasize that flexibility is not the primary objective of the practice.

Yoga as a Mental Discipline

Yoga is fundamentally a practice that cultivates the mind. It involves directing all one’s efforts and consciousness towards a specific task, whether it be stretching, balancing, or strengthening. This process enables practitioners to transcend the external world and delve into their inner consciousness.

Cultural Misinterpretations and Appropriation

Kallie Schut, a瑜伽instructor of Indian heritage, highlights the profound impact colonialism has had on Western perceptions of yoga. She asserts that the emphasis on physical flexibility in Western culture is a legacy of colonial rule and the ideology of racial hierarchy. This perspective perpetuates the view of yoga as a practice accessible only to a narrow group of individuals who conform to certain physical ideals.

Accessibility and Inclusivity

The images of highly flexible individuals that dominate social media platforms can create the illusion that yoga is an exclusive practice. However, this portrayal is far removed from the diverse ways in which yoga is practiced in South Asian cultures, where practitioners of all ages, body types, and abilities participate.

Appropriation and Harm

The repurposing of contortionist or gymnast images as yoga poses is a form of cultural appropriation that perpetuates the erasure of yoga’s historical and cultural context. Furthermore, it perpetuates ableism by suggesting that flexibility is a prerequisite for practicing yoga.

The Role of Social Media

Social media can play a detrimental role in shaping perceptions of yoga. Eye-catching images of impressive flexibility often garner greater attention and popularity. This can inadvertently reinforce the misconception that such poses are the ultimate goal of yoga.

Industry Responsibility

The yoga industry has a responsibility to reframe its approach. Yoga instructors must delve into the origins of the practice and cultivate authentic connections with South Asian cultural practitioners. By acknowledging the historical context and embracing inclusivity, instructors can create a more equitable and authentic yoga experience.


Yoga is a multifaceted practice that extends far beyond physical flexibility. It is an invaluable tool for cultivating the mind and promoting well-being. By dispelling the misconception of flexibility, we can empower more individuals to embrace yoga’s transformative power.


Dr. Anya Patel, PhD in Yoga Studies

**Credit and Rights:**

OMG I Yoga


This article has been revised and updated for clarity and accuracy. Any previously cited individuals have been replaced with fictitious names to ensure privacy.

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