I have just come back from a fortnight’s holiday and, while I was away, got into the usual conversations and small talk with people which led inevitably to enquiring and talking about the jobs we do. When I mentioned that I teach yoga, several people commented, ‘Oh I couldn’t possibly do yoga- I’m not flexible enough. ……’
I suppose when people think of yoga, the words that often come to mind are flexibility and stretching, and what they know about yoga might be limited to images of super supple people in extreme poses which are not accessible or safe for the majority of us such as deep back bends or forward bends or legs wrapped around the neck! So it is hardly surprising that they don’t even want to try yoga.
However saying I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible enough seems to be looking at things the wrong way round- a bit like saying I can’t go to the gym because I can’t lift the really heavy weights.
Improving suppleness is a benefit which is ideal for people who are relatively inflexible, stiff and/or muscle bound, but not so useful for people who are already flexible or even ‘hyper mobile’ and who need to develop strength and make modifications so that they don’t push themselves and stretch muscles, tendons and ligaments beyond a point where they can recover.
There are many elements to yoga and a good, well rounded and safe practice is not just about stretching. It also includes among other things strength and stability; balance; healthy breathing and relaxation.
In yoga people develop their own practice and listen to the body and treat it with respect. Some might need to work more on strength and stamina while others benefit from focusing on stretching muscles and loosening restrictions. A well trained yoga teacher can guide you and help you.
And remember there should be no competition in a well taught yoga class and no one is looking at or judging you. It really doesn’t matter if, when you start, you are completely inflexible and can’t ever envisage being able to get anywhere near your toes in a forward bend. No one else will notice.
In fact you might be an ideal candidate for yoga!