Do You Have To Be Flexible To Do Yoga?

How many times have you suggested to family members or friends that they ought to try a yoga class sometime?  You immediately dive into a conversation about all of it’s benefits, the strength you can gain both mentally and physically, the mindfulness you cultivate, and how it can literally benefit you in all aspects of life.  Then you hear it, the single most popular phrase almost everyone blurts out who has never given yoga an honest try:  “I’m not flexible enough.”  I’m not flexible enough.  That’s like saying you don’t want to lift weights because you aren’t strong enough.  You don’t want to take a cooking class because you aren’t good at cooking.  You don’t want to ride a bike because you can’t balance well enough.  I could go on and on.  Hopefully, the pattern above helps you to hone in on the unifying aspect that ties all of these analogies together:  Growth. So, let’s talk:  Do you have to be flexible to do yoga?

The short answer:

[bctt tweet="No, you don’t have to be flexible to do yoga. But be willing to embrace “growth”. "]

The long answer:

Walking into a gym for the first time can yield terror for many Screen Shot 2015-07-05 at 3.33.48 PMpeople.  The many different machines, stations, weights, and equipment can prove to be daunting to those who’ve never worked with a personal trainer, or haven’t done the proper research on technique.  Similarly, a kitchen could be you or someone you know’s worst nightmare…All of the tools and equipment, devices, recipes, and ingredients might overwhelm someone who is used to microwaving their dinner most nights of the week.

[bctt tweet="Like in yoga, a mere willingness to embrace growth is all that is needed in order to “succeed”. "]

This applies to almost any new task in life you are unfamiliar with.  Walk into a yoga class, and sure, you might feel as if you’ve walked into a class with people who have just finished a month long tour with Cirque Du Soleil.  The first thing to do is not get discouraged or self conscious.  Most likely, the people you see warming up for class with forearm balances and crazy backbends have been practicing yoga for far longer than you could guess.  It’s important you realize first and foremost that with yoga, each person is on their own unique journey.  Where you are with your practice is different from the person to your left and the person to your right.  Simply showing up to a yoga class is enough to get your instructor fired up about sharing the world of yoga with you.  Like all physical activities, the more you show up and follow through with a class or workout, the more your body and mind benefit.  Practicing Yoga can be an excellent tool to use in order to increase your flexibility, however this is not the only reason we practice, nor should this be the only reason you go to a yoga class.

When you do take your first class, or are feeling the urge to get back into the yoga world (which you should!), walk in with the mindset of growth.  Like a kid walking onto a playground for the first time, they are bewildered by all of the magical and infinite possibilities that this space contains.  Would a curious child stray away from the monkey bars because they are too high?  The slide too steep?  Now transfer this playfulness to your inner self.  Embrace your inner curiosity, and approach your next class with the mindset of a child.  Embrace “play”.  Be willing to fall down, laugh at yourself, dust yourself off, learn, and grow.  With this, you’ll begin to understand what you can and can’t do, and in general grow more knowledgeable about your entire body along the way.

Finally, once you understand your own limitations, it’s important to really harness in and start taking your practice to the next level and trying new things.  Like many workouts and exercises, there is an edge for your body.  Once you are comfortable enough with your practice, in order to grow you need to begin playing with pushing yourself to your edge.  See how far your body will take you until you begin to find your edge.  This is where true growth occurs, and this is where you will begin to notice that indeed you can gain not only flexibility, but strength and endurance in life as well.

[bctt tweet="Through yoga, you can gain not only flexibility, but strength and endurance in life as well."]

Image Credit:Brian Ng