“I am not flexible enough for yoga. I am too big, too old, I don’t have the body for it. Yoga is not exercise. Yoga is only for women. I can’t be still for long enough. Stand on my hands? Foot behind my head? Never going to happen.”
All of these are preconceived notions that keep people away from a yoga mat. I hear them over and over and over again–and I have even said one or two myself–but I am here to tell you, none of them is true.
Here is a very basic truth: the only limitations in our lives are the ones we create. Quite literally. Believe that you can’t do something, and you’re right. Any issues, problems, complications (health, injuries, financial, professional, and personal situations, even simple logistics) that wrinkle our plans—those are obstacles to work through. These are opportunities to overcome challenges, if we have the right attitudes. They are only limitations if we choose to see them as such.
Furthermore, let me just say–saying you are not flexible enough for yoga is like saying you are too dirty to take a bath. You come to yoga to become more flexible. Can’t remember the last time you touched your toes? Does your whole body groan when you try to lift your arms over your head? It may not happen your first class, or your second, or fifth. Keep practicing and you will feel those changes start happening in your body. There is no age cap on flexibility; it is not a ‘one and done’ ability that gets lost and is gone forever.
Whatever your other athletic pursuits, yoga is a full body practice of stretch and strength, and it will absolutely aid you in your other activities. Lift weights, bike, run, triathlon? Spend a lot of time in the garden, or working on the house or improving your golf swing? Do you travel in the car or work long hours at your desk? Yoga will help release the tensions, overwork, and even abuse that happens in the shoulders, low back, quads, and hamstrings. Increased flexibility and mobility in the muscles and joints will help you perform better.
Yoga will stretch out muscles and ligaments; it will help open up your body. And getting that physical tension out of the body, it just feels better. Also, as we get older, mobility and flexibility keep us young, able-bodied, comfortable, and independent.
One last truth (for today): yoga is meant for everybody and every body. Perhaps not everyone can do every pose or every style, but that is the beauty and literal flexibility of the practice. You can modify; you can intensify. The practice does not stay static; it changes with you. It challenges you. All the reasons you think you can’t do yoga or why it isn’t for you are in the fact the very reasons you should.
Be flexible in body, be flexible in mind. No limitations.