A huge misconception about yoga is that you have to be naturally flexible to practice yoga. So many people hesitate to try yoga for this reason. However, yoga is an ongoing process of synchronizing your body with your breathing.
Flexibility has little, if anything to do with it. You do not need to be able to bend into pretzel shapes, nor do you even need to be able to touch your toes. As long as you are breathing, you are doing yoga.
Yoga is a practise.
The aim is not to meet an end goal, but to embrace the ongoing journey. What you bring onto the mat on Day One does not necessarily indicate what you will end up with down the line. Beginning yoga is much like taking on any new endeavour. As long as you remain curious and open to learning, you will progress.
In practicing yoga, you stretch muscles in new and different ways. These muscles will adapt and will naturally become more flexible. Soon your body will open up and you will find a natural strength and flexibility in your musculature. Progress will flow effortlessly. All you need to do is show up on your mat – aware, breathing and present in the moment.
There are dozens of types of yoga, so it is easy to find a style that suits your unique body and your unique needs. Try different kinds and sample what’s out there. Yoga suits all body types and all flexibility types. Quite literally any body and every body. As long as you have a body and a sense of curiosity, yoga is for you.
If your poses begin to feel like a strain, stop. Wherever you are comfortable is where you are meant to be. Use of props can be hugely helpful in trying new poses and making you comfortable. Blocks, straps, bolsters – these are tools that are meant to be used. Do not shy away from them in an effort to “get it right by yourself”. You are not any less of a yogi for using props to help. Once you get into the pose you’ve been trying, any feelings of inadequacy will soon float away.
If you are beginning yoga, here are a few quick tips to help you on your way:
Just start practicing! Get on your mat and go.
- Pick one yoga pose and work on it. Here you can measure your progress.
- Got tight hamstrings? Forward folds are your best friend. You’ll be able to touch your toes in no time.
- You don’t need to dedicate hours to yoga. Just 5-10 minutes of stretching can completely invigorate your day.
- Pay attention to your breath. It should flow effortlessly. If your breathing catches or strains while in a pose, you are going too far. Stop and come back to where you are comfortable.
- Try different classes and different styles. Find a type and a teacher that work for you.
Beginner or advanced, flexible or not, practising yoga has one overarching message. As soon as you step on the mat, remember:
You are here, you are breathing, you are enough.