I am too inflexible to do yoga!
How many times have I heard a friend say this? It always leaves me mystified. Imagine if hungry people looked at food and said, “I am too hungry to eat!” or if dirty people looked at a shower and said, “I am too filthy to bathe!” We would wonder what on earth they were talking about. But with yoga, people say it and mean it and seem to never think twice about it.
I can’t touch my toes. I never could- even when I was a little kid.
Okay. Maybe this is more to the point. Back when you were young, your physical education teacher made you line up with all your classmates and try to see who was the most flexible. Since you were in the lowest ten percent of the class in flexibility, you were scarred for life. Yoga became something for other people, but not you.
Yoga is between you and your mat.
Unlike almost every other physical activity in the world, yoga is non-competitive. Yoga is all about you. The less time you spend noticing what everyone else can do, the better. The more attention you give to your very own self, the better you will be at doing yoga.
Modifications are available.
Poses have levels. Imagine a difficult pose as one that has five floors. Perhaps the first time you attempt a pose, you will only be on the bottom floor. This is good. Stay there. Learn to handle yourself gently and be where you are and be stable. Next time you attempt the same pose, floor one will be a no-brainer and you can go on and try floor two.
Props make it easier.
All those straps and blocks and bolsters and blankets are not for cheaters. They are there to help your body experience ease in a pose that it cannot quite support itself in yet. That is okay. You are slowly resetting the positions that feel comfortable in your body, so that the unfamiliar becomes familiar.
That is what the teacher is for.
So you feel like a dork in a particular pose, or it is causing discomfort or pain. You can ask the teacher for help and she or he will help you modify it or choose another pose that is working in your body that day- even if that particular pose is not working for you.
The whole point is to get used to being okay with where you are right now.
The greatest benefits of yoga are not physical. Getting into poses that allow you to join Cirque Du Soleil in a starring role is cool- no doubt about it. But yoga offers benefits like your inner light shining through for you and all those around you to see. So you feel like a dork. You might look like one, too. But learning to stand there and breathe through it and just be with it is powerful. You might learn to laugh at yourself a bit- and even to let others laugh along. Now that’s a nice pose to be in.