"I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible”. If I had a dollar for every time I heard that line…thinking you need to bend your body into a pretzel to do yoga is one of the biggest yoga misconceptions of all time. It’s akin to saying you’re too dirty to take a bath; or you can’t take a swimming lesson because you don’t know how to swim; or you’re too out of shape to start working out.
What I really hear people saying is, “I don’t want to embarrass myself”; “Please don’t judge me”; “I’m uncomfortable with my body”; “I’m afraid to look stupid”. Let me reassure you now that your level of flexibility has nothing to do with how good you are at yoga and if someone were to judge you in class, it's a reflection of them - not you. In that moment he or she is not be practicing yoga no matter how flexible he or she is.
In case you missed it, click here to watch the Yoga Myth Buster video: "I Can't Do Yoga Because I'm Not Flexible", featuring Annakin Slayd.
Hip Hop artist Annakin Slayd proves you don't have to be flexible to do yoga.
Hatha yoga is and ancient system of postures, lifestyle principles, breath work and meditation designed to help us connect our mind, body and spirit. It’s a practice that develops equanimity and compassion. Flexibility is one of the many positive side effects of a regular yoga practice – not the goal.
You could be stiff as a board, yet focused inward on the sensations of your body and your breath without judging or reacting to what you feel and, in that moment, you’re further ahead than the dancer next to you picking her toenails and inwardly criticizing herself for not getting a pedicure, while her torso lies effortlessly flat across her legs in a forward fold.
Yoga is not a performance – it’s a practice of self-acceptance. Do it regularly and you will inevitably become more flexible; and as you connect with yourself and cultivate a deeper love and appreciation for your body, you may also find that you stop caring as much. It doesn’t matter why you start yoga, in the end all the benefits will come. The only pre-requisite is showing up!