When I tell people that I teach Yoga I often get one of two responses: “I LOVE YOGA!” or “I haven’t tried yoga because….,”
“I’m just not that flexible.”
This is probably the most common response I get. When I hear it, I have to reel in my ego, silently ground myself and take a deep breath to resist my westernized, snippy comeback of “You do yoga to get flexible!”
(Insert Obligatory Batman Meme Here, wink-wink)
Instead I find myself searching for gentle words that are just as true, but without the silent eye roll. While the above answer seems so obvious to me, I have to remember that most people have this idea in their heads that they have to be flexible before benefiting from yoga.
This idea that you have to be flexible to do yoga is perpetuated by the yoga industry’s depiction of perfectly bendy people performing extreme yoga poses in exotic and beautiful landscapes.
I promise you, those yogi’s didn’t start out that flexible! The only people that are that flexible before starting yoga are small children, professional dancers and circus acrobats. Oh, and most of us rarely get the chance to practice being bendy on camera in gorgeous vacation spots. Some of my best yoga sessions have been in the tiny 6×6 yoga space I cleared in my 900 square foot apartment.
Everyone I know has tight hamstrings and IT bands. Runners have the tightest IT bands I have ever seen. Men, on average, have more tightly wound muscles in their calves and the front and back of their thighs than most women do. The list goes on when taking things into consideration like how many hours a person spends at a desk, working at a computer or driving a car.
If I do yoga first thing in the morning, my knees have to stay bent if I want to touch my toes in standing forward bend. But by then end of the practice session, I am more flexible than when I started. This trend is true throughout the yoga journey. Start out tight and immovable–end up flexible and ready to move on!
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” ~Bruce Lee