One of the most common myths that blocks people from starting yoga is the worry that they are not flexible enough.
It has become widely believed that flexibility is a requirement, a prerequisite of yoga.
This is not the case. If anything, flexibility may naturally improve as a result of yoga, but it is neither essential to the practice, nor a goal!
The media (more specifically, Instagram) portrays yogis as being super flexible and strong; able to do the splits, backbends and more. Whilst improved mobility can be a benefit of practising, it is in no way, a requirement.
It doesn't matter if you can't touch your toes.
It is important to remember that your body is completely and utterly unique to you. No one else has your body.
You are not in competition with other bodies, nor are you fighting a battle against your own body.
When it comes to flexibility, some people are naturally very flexible, but most of us embark on our yoga journey for many different reasons, and over time, flexibility is something that comes too.
But whilst flexibility may be a by-product of yoga, yoga is not about flexibility. So whether you have flexibility or even a desire to be flexible or not, you CAN do yoga.
There is more to yoga than the physical practice
While the physical practice (asana) may be the main reason you start practicing yoga, there are so many other aspects to yoga that are as much a part of the journey.
Yoga has managed to slip into a 30 minute slot on a gym timetable. A stretching or recovery exercise. The perception has become acrobatics, physical abilities, headstands and sun salutations, overpriced protein shakes and expensive leggings. Commercialised. Completely misunderstood. Inaccessible to most bodies. Not affordable for most pockets. Exclusive. Offputting.
But yoga is, at its core, a spiritual, not a physical practice.
You won’t know until you try
Even when it comes to physical yoga, there are multiple styles, speeds, and variations of postures to suit all bodies. Stiff bodies, large bodies, never exercised a day in their life before bodies....
If the thought of being the most inflexible in the room is putting you off, we want to reassure you that it truly doesn't matter.
Give it a chance and you’ll see, there are people of all ages, all abilities, flexible and inflexible.
Everybody starts somewhere
If flexibility is a goal of yours or if there is a certain posture you want to work towards, just remember, we all started as beginners. You can't reach your goals or improve your practice if you don’t try.
All yoga teachers and yogis started off exactly where you are. At the beginning.
What to do if you’re not flexible
One of the most incredible things about the diversity of human bodies, is that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses when it comes to yoga. One person’s open hips come with tight shoulders, another person’s flexible hamstrings are counteracted with stiff joints. It’s all relative!
And the best part about being inflexible is that you get to understand what asana is really about.
The struggle is not the journey to the goal.
The struggle is the goal.
Breathing through discomfort, breathing into areas of tightness in the body: this is the work of yoga.
We want to diminish the stigma around flexibility in yoga in the hope that more people will start their spiritual practice. After all, it is called a practice for a reason.
At BeWell our mission is to share simple tools, accessible for everyone, rooted in ancient yogic history to bring everyone back to their unique magic & balance. Want to know what we're all about? Why not join us in one of online classes, or take our free short online course?
If our message resonates with you and you are ready to take your yoga journey to the next level, we also offer Yoga Alliance certified 200hrs Yoga Teacher Trainings, both on- and off-line.