You Don't Have to Be Flexible to Enjoy Yoga


Myth: Those who participate in (and actually enjoy) yoga are abnormal contortionists born with high pain tolerance and spines made of jello.

Truth: You don’t have to be flexible to enjoy yoga. Really.

It’s a common misconception that those who enjoy yoga feel that way because they are flexible enough to do all the extreme stretches. Quite the contrary. Those who enjoy and regularly practice yoga become better and better at touching their toes. And yoga-love is not just for bendy downward-dog pros. Check out these reasons why you should consider taking up yoga (even if your name + “flexible” = an oxymoron):

  • Yoga instructors don’t care how flexible you are and most yoga classes are designed so that you can work at your own pace. If you’re concerned about your ability to do some of the more advanced moves then ask your instructor for tips on how to modify the positions until your flexibility improves. (Note: In every yoga class that I’ve taken the instructor has offered tips on how to modify positions before anyone had to ask. Most yoga teachers are aware that not everyone can do the positions fully at first.)
  • Being slim might make flexibility easier to come by, but you don’t need to be skinny in order to do yoga. Don’t buy into the lie that yoga isn’t for those who are overweight. Certified yoga instructor Abby Lentz has a DVD named Heavyweight Yoga and teaches classes with the same title. Overweight herself, Lentz’s goal is to show others that they don’t need to wait until they are slim and lithe in order to benefit from yoga stretches. Lentz emphasizes the importance of props for those with limited agility. (For example, if it’s too difficult to lower yourself to the floor during a yoga move then hold onto a chair or the wall for assistance.)
  • Those who take up yoga and stick with it are usually surprised by how drastically it changes their bodies. If you allow yourself to be turned off by the stereotype that yoga is just for skinny gals with super-stretchy muscles then you will miss out on yoga’s transforming benefits. Studies show that yoga drastically increases the body’s range of mobility, improves muscle tone, builds strength, betters respiratory function, and prevents back pain.  Not to mention the fact that yoga improves mood, relieves stress, and brings about a state of calm. Hollywood celebrities, such as Jeremy Piven, swear by these health benefits and regularly take yoga classes.

Bottom line - if you haven’t tried yoga then give it a chance (your lack of flexibility will only get worse as time goes on). Yoga is a surefire way to improve your overall health and to reacquaint your fingertips with your toes.  And who knows - you might be the most flexible person in your yoga class.

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