Have you ever heard someone say this? Have you said this yourself?
“I’m not flexible enough for yoga!” is probably the number one thing I and many other yoga teachers hear.
When it comes to yoga, It’s so easy to assume you need to be flexible like the models you see on Instagram to even try. But that is not true! The truth is, yoga is for everyone. It doesn’t matter how tight you are, if you have injuries, if you have a bigger body, tiny body, a brittle body, or missing limbs. There’s something in yoga for you. If you disagree, hang tight. I'll address it in a bit.
The truth is, it's safer for you to start doing yoga not flexible.
If you’re doing yoga for the first time, it’s actually better that you start off with less flexibility than more. It’s much safer for your joints. In my last video "I'm Not Flexible" Here's Why I talked about how some people are naturally stronger than they are flexible and how some people are naturally more flexible than they are strong. When you’re less flexible your muscles are better at supporting your joints, like your knees, and in a bone bearing movement modality like yoga, this is very important.
When you go into yoga super flexible, or hypermobile, what tends to happen is you'll likely put the weight of the pose into your joints. For example, locking your front knee in Triangle Pose. Because of the natural state of your muscles, you put pressure and your weight on your joint instead of using your muscles to support yourself. And this can lead to long term problems, pain, even complications if you develop a habit in improper form.
So, if that’s true then why do people have this belief?
When you think of yoga, what’s the image that comes to your mind? Chances are the first thing you see is a thin, super fit, athletic person doing an intense handstand, or backbend, split, or some combination of these. You especially see this on platforms like instagram, where a simple yoga pose doesn't get as much likes. And because of images like this that make up 90% of yoga in marketing, it makes a lot of people feel intimidated and excluded from practicing yoga.
When it comes to health, self-care, and transformation, people are motivated by aspirational images that represent what they could be
I’m not knocking the people who posts photos like this. Marketing and promotional images are what they are because people are captured by what inspires them. When it comes to health, self-care, and transformation, people are motivated by aspirational images that represent what they could be. And for me, whatever gets a person to make healthier, more loving choices for themselves, isn’t all bad. The downside, however, is that it does not represent what yoga actually is or what it really looks like. Therefore, it leads people to have a perception of yoga that creates this limiting belief that yoga isn’t for them.
Being a yoga teacher I work with a lot of people on their relationship with their body, and have worked with a variety of body types. I can confidently say that most people can’t do the splits. Most people can’t even touch their toes! And touching your toes is not at all a measurement for health. The acrobatic moves you see a lot of yoga models do was something that came from years of regular practice and dedication where being able to do impressive moves like that are part of their goals and agenda. It’s not something you need to have a part of your yoga practice unless you want to.
Yoga is not about performance... The goal of yoga is consciousness...
My advice for if you’re scared to try yoga because of what media has told you, is to remember that yoga is not about performance, it’s not even about the poses you do. The goal of yoga is consciousness, creating a mind-body awareness to help you eventually achieve a higher state of awareness. At the very least, yoga helps you create a more positive relationship with yourself and the world around you. So don’t focus on what you look like. No one else is. Focus on how you feel and embracing the physical challenges that might come in your practice.
Another reason why people believe they're not flexible enough for yoga is that it's true - to a degree. Let’s say you’re a body builder or lifter that never stretches at the end of their workout. Or maybe you’re just super tight because you work at a desk all day, and you’re super stressed, and you never move other than walk from one place to the next. You look to yoga because you hear it’s really good at helping you stretch and become more flexible. You go to a power yoga or vinyasa class, and everyone is moving so fast that you can’t keep up. By the way, this also applies to anyone with injuries. So, you walk away from the class not feeling the best about yourself, and walk away with the belief that because you are so tight that yoga isn’t the right movement modality for you.
If you are not flexible enough for yoga, you're probably in the wrong class
A power yoga or vinyasa class, by nature is very fast paced. So, if you’re a beginner, let alone someone who has an injury or is super tight, going into an all levels class, you’re going to need sometime to not only learn, but to keep up as well. What I suggest for you is avoid a flow based class like power and vinyasa. Choose a style of yoga that is much slower and alignment based like iyengar or hatha. Those classes prioritize doing the pose correctly and let’s you hold the pose much longer than a power vinyasa.
So, now you know the truth! Let me know in the comments below if any of this applies to you, or if there’s something that I’ve missed. Share with us your experience, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit the notification bell so you can get more videos like these in the future.
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