Over the past eleven years of teaching yoga, I have heard a lot of excuses for why people don’t give it a try. Some of them are legitimate concerns that could easily be addressed and overcome with the help of a skilled instructor. Others are comical cover-ups for a simple fear of the unknown. But some are just downright illogical. Top on this latter list: I can’t practice yoga because I’m not flexible.
Yes, genetics, to a large extent, will determine the flexibility of an individual’s ligaments and therefore impact the mobility or their joints. No matter how much one practices yoga, this won’t change significantly. But muscle is a different story and the yoga mat is the perfect place to develop flexibility. Using the excuse that you can’t go to yoga because you aren’t flexible is akin to saying you can’t go to a restaurant because you are hungry. Using props and modifications, anyone can practice yoga and reap its healthy benefits. And keep in mind that yoga isn’t just about stretching. In addition to flexibility, yoga cultivates physical strength, a necessary counter-balance to ensure maximum mobility.
Perhaps even more important, yoga helps cultivate flexibility of your mind. Like our physical bodies, our minds often gets rigid, stiff, and stuck in certain beliefs or thought patterns. This can cause pain that rivals our physical tightness and discomfort. A safe and supportive environment is created in the yoga room to provide students with an opportunity to explore this aspect of themselves while providing tools for working with mental tension. True flexibility is reflected in a fluid body AND mind and can be achieved with a regular practice of yoga. So what are you waiting for? Give yoga a try! At the very least, please, please, please come up with a better excuse.