“I am not flexible.” As a yoga teacher, this is the number one answer I hear people say in regards to why they do not practice yoga. Perhaps you nod in agreement. We have all seen the “stop, drop, and yoga” poses all over social media. Photos of extremely bendy yogis twisting themselves into complicated poses or standing on their hands. Who wouldn’t be intimidated by that! These yogis likely have been practicing for years. YEARS. Beginners: let me assure you, you are not expected to partake in extreme bending, balancing, and handstands all on day one. Rather, what if all you had to do first is breathe? That’s it, just breathe. If you can breathe, you can yoga (that about covers the entire human race). Here are three reasons to start your yoga practice now:
The least flexible receive immediate benefits. Wait, what? Sounds counter-intuitive, right? As you move through your practice, your body will wake up to a new way of moving and new muscle memory will be created. Your muscles may feel tight and resist (you know, the ones you didn’t know existed). That is okay and perfectly normal. Listen to your body and go only as far as you can without feeling pain or strain. Then relax. Inhale. Exhale. The benefits? The gift of the present moment. By focusing on your breath you immediately bring yourself into the here and now. What better place is there to be than in the now? Other immediate benefits - you’ll likely be less stressed out and sleep better that evening.
Yoga is not just for the body. It’s for the mind too. Yoga was originally intended to enable your physical body to sit in hours of meditation. Much of yoga practiced in the Western world has shifted to a highly physical exercise. While there are significant physical benefits, yoga was not originally intended to be externally focused nor a competition for the best looking pose. Yoga is a moving meditation, it is a time to go within, let go of your thoughts, and quiet the mind chatter. This is meditating! The benefits of meditation have incredible short and long term benefits including longevity, stress management, and aligning yourself with who you truly are.
You will gain self-confidence. Trying new things increases our self confidence. After your first yoga class, you will be further along with your practice than you were before class; you are now a yogi! You did this! You will never be a first-timer again.
So, now you see yoga is not really about how flexible you are. It is a practice to work at slowly, one day at a time. Over the past fifteen years, yoga has transformed my life, forever altering my outlook of and interactions with the world. Had I never stepped on a yoga mat, I would be without so many of these beautiful and enriching experiences. Go on, step on a mat. See what happens.
You’ve got this. Are you ready to embark on your yoga journey?