What If I’m Not Flexible? Can I Still Do Yoga?

This is a very common question that people ask about starting a yoga practice. Among other myths and misconceptions about yoga, the notion of flexibility BEFORE rolling out your yoga mat is frequently entertained. Let’s take a closer look at this question to demystify the idea that you have to be flexible in order to practice yoga.

The Question of Flexibility

There is an interesting contradiction when it comes to flexibility and yoga. First of all, most people have some knowledge that yoga will help with flexibility. They know or have heard that yoga is a great way to stretch out their tight muscles to experience greater mobility and agility.

However, attending a yoga class continues to remain at the bottom of the “to-do” list even though they are aware of the benefits. This may be due to embarrassment or intimidation about trying something new. Thinking that they will be the ONLY inflexible person in class and appearing incapable of doing the poses is a common fear. It is alright to be nervous about trying something new like yoga. It is understandable that you don’t want to look awkward in class or feel like you’re going to do something wrong. 

The truth about the philosophy and practice of yoga, especially in these modern times, is that yoga is open to every person. You are invited to take a yoga class no matter what state of mind or body you’re in at the present moment. Whether you’re new to yoga, old or young, male or female, flexible or stiff, yoga is for YOU. You will be welcomed as a new student. Everyone that has ever stepped onto a yoga mat also had a first time. With some commitment and consistency, they were able to reap the benefits of yoga, and so can you.

Yoga is about arriving exactly as you are. If you’re feeling stressed, nervous, or scared, that’s all normal. If you think you’re out of shape or not wearing the right clothing, these things don’t matter when it comes to yoga. The important thing is that you arrive and have a personal intention for the practice. Maybe you want to calm your nerves, feel less stressed. Perhaps you just have a simple goal of being able to touch your toes with ease.

The Many Benefits of Yoga…Including Flexibility

One of the many byproducts of practicing yoga is actually flexibility. There is no need to already be flexible when you begin a yoga class. Even if your goal isn’t about getting flexible, it’s something that will happen regardless of your intention. Because of the consistent movements and yoga postures, the body warms up to an increase in overall functionality.

Not only will you become more flexible with consistent practice, but you’ll experience other obvious and subtle changes in your body. You build strength, tone your muscles, and improve your posture. You’ll also realize you’re calmer in stressful situations, you’ll get along better with friends, family, and colleagues, you’ll have a more positive view of the world around you. Most importantly, you’ll gain a great connection, appreciation, and love for yourself. That is the main intention of yoga, to have a great awareness of yourself that allows you to live with joy, love, and gratitude. (And you’ll be able to touch your toes, too.)

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10 Best Yoga Stretches

If you have tight hamstrings and would like to lengthen this often tight band of muscles, try this yoga posture. Start by standing with a slight bend in your knees. While hinging at the hips, fold forward to touch your toes. If you are unable to touch your toes, feel free to rest your hands on your shins or knees. While maintaining the slight bend in your knees, shift your weight forward a bit toward your toes. This will emphasize the stretch in your hamstrings. Hold the posture for at least 10 breaths.

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