I wish I could get Lululemon credit for every time I have heard someone say this to me. There are a million excuses people come up with for not attempting yoga, but this one is particularly irksome, because it’s just not true. Whenever I hear someone bemoan or accept his/her inflexibility as fact, I like to tell the story of how I first learned about yoga.
I was first introduced to yoga by my former football player father. A stocky guy by nature, a life of extreme activity took a toll on his knees and hip, leading to a double knee replacement and a titanium hip, limiting his flexibility greatly. I was 10 years old when we first started taking classes with a local swami, who was, in my 10 year old mind, 1/3 grandpa, 1/3 teacher and 1/3 wizard. He was so majestic and regal. My dad’s mobility was very limited, but this did not prove to be a problem in the restorative yoga class we took with Swami Jaidev weekly. The soft lights, booming yet reassuring voice of Swami, and the gentle movements in a heated room became an addicting source of relaxation and peace of mind. Even from my child’s perspective, I knew something spectacular was happening in that room. Yoga is soooo much more than being able to put your foot behind your head.
If flexibility is what is holding you back from trying yoga, I challenge you to question whether this inflexibility is physical or perhaps mental. So often, I see students of all ages, limiting themselves in class, because they believe they are not “a flexible person” or a particular pose could never be possible for them.This holding back is rarely physical. There are so many students that have the strength and even flexibility, but fear of failure or making a fool of oneself holds them back. Be silly. Fall on your face. Have a sense of humor with yourself, and get back up again and try again. I can’t thank my dad enough for teaching me this at a young age.
If you are new to yoga, and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all of the different types of yoga to choose from, I recommend reading Meagan McCrary’s book, Pick Your Yoga Practice. She breaks down the most popular types of yoga ranging from Bikram to Restorative. I truly believe there is a type of yoga and a special teacher for each and every person. It is just a matter of taking the time to find him/her. Sometimes, finding that special teacher that you resonate with, might not even match up with the type of yoga you usually prefer. I have been a lifelong athlete, and almost always gravitate towards inversion/arm balance heavy power classes. However, some of the dearest and most influential teachers have been yoga therapists that teach restorative classes, where I barely break a sweat.