In response to my encouraging people to try yoga I often hear, ‘but I’m not flexible’. It seems to be a common misconception that one must be flexible in order to do yoga. This couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, this is precisely one of the reasons why we should do yoga.
Whether we are active or sedentary our muscles have a tendency to shorten over time. This shortening can eventually lead to discomfort or even injury. I will never forget the demonstration my first yoga instructor gave to teach this lesson. He said if we don’t work to maintain our flexibility we will eventually become a shuffler when we are older. He proceeded to shuffle his feet as he walked across the room to illustrate his point. I’d watched my grandparents walk in this way and had assumed it must just be a natural consequence of aging. The light bulb had turned on-I could maintain a youthful range of motion indefinitely!
General flexibility is one thing we can attain through yoga; however, it can be discouraging or even intimidating to look around a class and see the extreme flexibility some folk’s exhibit. It’s a human tendency to compare; however, this is fruitless where yoga is concerned. Many factors determine an individual’s maximum range of motion, much of which are genetic. Our bone, joint, ligament and tendon structure all play a role in our flexibility.
Yoga gives us an opportunity to proactively maintain our health and enjoy the rare moment to free our minds from the busy act of comparing. We can relax, turn our focus inward and feel satisfaction from knowing we are taking care of ourselves!