I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard that from folks who are interested in yoga, but don’t think they can do it. Of course, y’all have a right to your own opinion, but I have to respectfully disagree.
Here’s the thing. There’s no right or wrong in yoga. From an anatomy standpoint, each of our bodies is built differently. Some of us were born with more flexibility, some with less. Our bodies have a tendency to lose flexibility over time. It happens to the best of us. (Which is to say, all of us.)
If you think you’re not flexible enough to practice yoga, I encourage you to bring your fabulous self exactly as you are. It’s all good.
Tips for your first class (or reminders for yogis already practicing):
- Make sure you’re hydrated. Hydrated muscles will respond more easily to what you’re going to ask them to do. Also, take a water bottle to class so you can drink as your body warms up.
- Show up at class. 🙂
- Talk to the instructor ahead of class and tell him/her you have concerns about your flexibility. Ask if he/she will offer modifications/options for the postures. (Every instructor I know does that in every class they teach.)
- Breathe deeply. The instructor will cue you on how to do this in different ways. Breathe into your muscles. Help them relax.
- Let go of expectations. Notice how your body moves. Modify, according to the instructor’s cues. Notice how it may feel differently with a slight adjustment to your alignment.
- After class, ask the instructor for gentle postures you can do at home, in between classes.
- Away from your mat, stretch, hydrate and Breathe. Be kind to yourself.
- Stick with it. Yoga is a practice. It’s not a “I went to a class and I’m still not flexible” kind of thing.
Over time, my practice has taught me that flexibility for yoga isn’t just about our bodies. It’s also about flexibility of the mind. It’s about our willingness to be open to the things that come our way in life – the good, the bad and the ugly. Moving through the postures (asanas) is a way to cultivate our flexibility.
I encourage you to read my last post, which is about turning criticism into curiosity. Acceptance of our bodies just the way they are, acceptance of our circumstances just the way they are…that’s yoga.