Today we’re re-posting a great article from Terri Carr, the author of YogaSOULutions.net. We have people say “well, I’m not flexible, so I can’t do yoga” all the time. Our response is always the same – you need yoga to make you more flexible
Why Flexibility Doesn’t Matter in Yoga Practice.
You have probably overheard a comment like this at some point, “I don’t like/can’t do/am not good at yoga….I’m not flexible,” as if the sole purpose of yoga is for flexible people to get together to practice their flexibility
Sigh. Whenever I hear this kind of comment, I want to jump in with, “No, no, no. Yoga is not just for people who are already flexible. It’s about increasing your flexibility and your strength and your balance, not just on the physical level but mentally and emotionally too.”
I want to say, “Please take a half dozen or so classes and see what it feels like to actually experience the effects of yoga once you put aside the idea that you are not ‘good’ at it.”After a couple of weeks (or even one class!), you might notice you can actually move in ways you couldn’t before coming to yoga, or you might observe that you feel calm and grounded in stressful situations. You might find you can comfortably stand your ground in a situation where previously you would run away, or that conflicts with others happen less as you communicate with more openness and understanding.
I do try to say something to this effect, but I usually get the sense that the listener hasn’t really heard me. And the myth persists.
I guess it will persist until people have had a taste of the TRUE benefits of yoga, which is to say the openness and flexibility of spirit, the renewed sense of vibrancy, the joy and happiness of being able to roll with life’s rhythms instead of resisting them.
Just because someone can do a wide straddle split, or put their leg behind their head does not mean their life runs smoothly. It just means that they have an advanced degree of physical flexibility.
Sometimes a person can actually be too flexible, or too open in the sense that they don’t keep any boundaries for themselves. Whatever is asked of them, they give, running here and there trying to accommodate others, but disregarding their own needs.
So, folks, if you are one of those people who still thinks that yoga is ‘for flexible people,’ give it a second look. In most yoga classes you will see varying levels of flexibility. Even among people in their 20’s, some yogis are not all that flexible.
But if they practice regularly, they will become at least a little more flexible. But even better, they will feel more resilient, more patient, more determined, more forgiving, more accepting, more compassionate. Things we can all be good at.