“I would practice yoga, but I'm just not flexible.”
This is the number one reason people tell me that they don't practice yoga. Even people who are genuinely interested in yoga and who know of the many benefits that yoga offers, will often say “I'm just not flexible; I can't do yoga.” This limiting belief closes them off from experiencing an incredible tool called yoga. So, I'm here today to bust this myth!
Before I started practicing yoga, I could not even touch my feet! I was not flexible. In fact, I have clear memories of being in elementary school and feeling so embarrassed on fitness test day because I could not even come close to touching my toes on the sit and reach test. I'm not sure if they still have fitness test day in gym class in schools anymore, but the sit and reach was where we would sit on the ground with our legs extended straight in front of us, feet flexed with the soles of our feet on the inside of a wooden box. The box had a measuring tape on the top of it. The exercise was to fold forward and reach our fingertips as far as we could on the measuring tape. I could barely even reach the box!
Well, many years later, I started practicing yoga at the local YMCA. I still could not touch my toes. Actually, I could barely even do half the poses in class, and I was too scared to even try the other half of the poses like shoulderstand! Still, I went to class because I was interested in it. My grandfather was a yogi and I wanted to try it. Needless to say, I fell in love! I always felt so great after class. I felt peaceful. I felt more comfortable and relaxed in my body. And so, my point is this - most of us are not that flexible when we first start practicing yoga. We do it anyways, and the flexibility naturally arises through regular practice.
Our regular daily life is restricted to such limited ranges of motion. Think about it, we wake up, get out of bed, get ready for our day, sit in our car, drive to work, sit in our chair at the office, and then drive right back home. This limited mobility tends to stiffen up our bodies. Even if we do exercise after work, our muscles can tighten up especially through repetitive movement exercises, like running. Simply through the practice of yoga, the flexibility comes. Now, I've been practicing yoga for more than 15 years and I can easily touch my toes, but this was not the case when I first started.
So, I'm here today to say that you do not need to be flexible to start your practice of yoga. As a result of your practices, the flexibility will naturally arise. I invite you to give it a try! At Shakti Vidya Yoga, we offer live, virtual yoga classes throughout the week. I invite you to join us. Even if you don't try it out with us, find a local studio, gym, or online videos to give it a try!