I can’t practice Yoga, I’m not Flexible enough.
I’d be rich by now if I charged a dollar for each time I heard that line. I don’t think people understand the purpose of Yoga or what is Yoga outside of those pretty pictures that you see online, which is why they ask this question.
Well Let’s start off by explaining what Yoga is?
The word Yoga originates from the Sanskrit word yuj, which means to bind.
It can also mean “union”, of the mind, body and spirit.
That’s the basic definition of it. So, it’s a way for ANY person to learn how to bind the mind, body and spirit. It all goes together. However a person chooses to do that, it’s exactly that, their choice. It’s a journey to self-discovery. You pick a path that is comfortable for you and your needs. There isn’t a particular way a person should start. You just do. Some are inspired by the physical practice and others are inspired by the spiritual. It all depends on the person and what they’re seeking in their current life.
Now, back to the whole “I’m not flexible for Yoga” thing. Well, don’t you think the whole reason why people go to classes is to become flexible and strong? If they felt like they didn’t need that, they wouldn’t be any need for classes. You go to gain flexibility and strength. Think of going to a Yoga class as your first time going to the gym. The very first day you show up, you’re not going to run 5 miles on the treadmill or pick up 200 Ibs weights. You go every day until you build the strength and endurance to get to that point. You have to start from the bottom to get to the top. That’s like anything in life. Same thing goes with yoga, you’re not going to get into poses comfortably if you haven’t done them a day in your life. It just doesn’t work that way. In addition to that, you can’t stop practicing either, you have to consistent or it becomes pointless. Again, back to the gym example, you can’t go to the gym 3 times a week for a month then stop and expect to have the same strength and endurance months later? No, you start all over again! Right?. IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU LOSE IT, pretty much.
Many get discouraged throughout their practice because they don’t see results right away. They set expectations of when they should accomplish a pose and let their ego get in the way. Well it takes time for your muscles to get use to stretching a certain way. Our bodies are so accustomed to moving a certain way our whole lives; it will be hard to make it do something different. You have to be patient and persistence and the results will come. And most importantly, let that ego go.
Often times, what really stops us from progressing or advancing in our practice is our EGO. We think we can do everything that we try and when we can’t, we get discouraged. But instead we should take it as a challenge to push us passed our limits and comfort zone.
I will leave you with this advice, if you go to a class and there are some things that you can’t do, it’s okay. It happens to almost everyone including teachers like myself. Understand that the process gets better with time. Think of Yoga as a “University”. There are many classes and majors that are available for you top choose from. You pick and choose what you want to take to get a bachelors degree. You choose your path and end up with a bachelor’s degree like everyone else in the University. Does that mean you’re less of a student because you choose not to take certain classes? No, it just means, it didn’t interest you. You use the same concept with Yoga. You pick and choose what poses to practice and how you practice. And that is okay; there will be poses that you will never want to do. You pick and choose what you want in your yoga journey because it is just that, your journey. There are so many poses, modifications and variations because there are different types of people with different bodies and interests. So there will be something for everyone. That’s what makes yoga universal. Doesn’t matter your size, weight, age, injury…etc. anyone can practice Yoga.
Your practice is supposed to be enjoyable and comfortable. Once you lose that, you’re no longer practicing yoga. You have to make sure that you are bale to breathe comfortably in a pose or you’re no longer in the pose. At any time during a class, if you feel like your body is tired and needs to rest, do just that. Go to child pose and meet the class wherever they’re when you’re ready. Trust me, I still do that. I have no shame in my child pose game. If my body is telling me to rest, I listen to it.
I hope this helps many of you understand how Yoga works a bit and makes it less intimidating for you.
If you need further guidance on how to start your yoga journey, you can read previous posts in the blog or purchase The Starting Point Guide.