One of the most common misunderstandings about yoga is that you have to be fit and flexible to do it. Even though people, in general, have a better understanding of yoga’s benefits than they did maybe 10-15 years ago, there is still this idea that if you can’t touch your toes, you can’t do yoga.
Not true! In yoga, start where you are.
We do yoga not because we are strong, supple, and clear-minded but in order to become more strong, supple and clear-minded.
Jig practicing yoga
Literally everyone, can do yoga, as my inspiring friend Jig shows. He is paralysed from the waist down but that doesn’t stop him practicing. (Read his story)
The biggest obstacles to yoga are the ones in our own head. Let’s look at four common barriers, and positive messages to break them down.
“I’m not flexible enough”
This is a huge one. People have this idea that the aim of yoga is to become a human pretzel. Well, it isn’t. Every single time you practice you are increasing your flexibility. You don’t need to do dramatic postures, you just need to be willing to try. Think: “Today, I’m going to move one-half-millimetre further” — that’s all you need.
“I’m not strong enough”
To look at Instagram, it seems everyone who does yoga can practically levitate. Not true, and not important. Your body develops strength at its own pace, with practice. If you can get onto the mat, you’re strong enough to begin.
“I don’t have good balance”
Balance is a skill that, like any other, you need to practice. As kids we played games that challenged our balance, as adults, we rarely do. Yoga is a chance to relearn the skill of balance. You don’t have to be able to stand on one leg for five minutes, or even five seconds, to begin. You just have to turn up and try.
“I’m not coordinated”
Again, social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to promoting the idea that yoga involves super-complicated choreography. Yoga is a sequence of movements that you can take as slowly as you like. A good teacher will guide you through each individual posture, and through the sequence, so you never need to be confused or anxious. There is no pressure, and if you need to take a break, you can.
Yoga has benefits for every single body. Don’t let misconceptions about what it is, or who it’s for, hold you back from experiencing the joy and energy of regular practice.
Questions? Comments? Share in the comments!