Those of us who teach yoga hear a lot of excuses.
“I can’t do yoga because I don’t have time.”
“I can’t do yoga because I don’t have yoga pants.”
“I can’t do yoga because I’m not a woman.”
The one that I hear more than all the others is, “I’m not flexible” as if there is this belief that in order to do yoga you have to be flexible to begin with, and being inflexible is the reason they don’t get on the mat to begin with.
Do you really think all those super bendy people gracing Instagram with their beautiful yoga poses started out being super bendy? Some of them probably did, but most of them did not. Most people are not very bendy when they come to yoga.
There are two basic problems with the argument, ‘I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.'” says Shana Meyerson, Founder of YOGAthletica “First of all, you don’t skip yoga because you’re not flexible. If you’re not flexible, that’s why you need yoga in the first place. Second, flexibility is an important component of overall health, especially as you get older. If you don’t do yoga because of inflexibility, you will become tighter and tighter over time, and more and more susceptible to injury as a result. What’s more, the less flexible you are, the more benefit you get from the yoga stretches.”
“Yoga is not about being flexible,” Katie Brauer told me. Katie is the COO of Yoga Six Studios. “Anyone can do it, no matter what age, fitness level, flexibility, even if you are injured. It is simply, movement and breath. The approach of Yoga Six programming and class offerings is making yoga accessible for everyone and giving them the gift of this ancient, life enhancing practice through a modern day approach.”
Kim Jones, yoga instructor and owner of Urban Tranquility agrees. “The first thing is that yoga is not solely focused on flexibility. Breathing is key in yoga practice! If you keep telling yourself that you aren’t flexible you will hold your breath in various asanas and build more tension which will result in you seeming even less flexible than you are. Focus on breathing in the posture and you will find yourself relaxing and your flexibility improving.
“The second thing that I share is that sometimes flexibility can be an indication of a lack of strength. Though you find yourself struggling in postures requiring flexibility you may be able to easily engage in postures requiring strength. We all have areas to work on.”
If you’ve only got 5 minutes, you can still do yoga to increase flexibility. This video from Tara Stiles is a great place to start.