flexibility and yoga
I often hear saying "Yoga is not for me, I am not flexible" and I understand that one can think of that. Indeed, if you look on the net or on Instagram, hashtag #yogainspiration or #yogaeveryday, the poses are rather impressive. We have the impression that doing yoga is only for people who are very flexible. Yet Yoga should not be reserved for former dancers and gymnasts, because its benefits can really change your life. So the real question at the bottom is "why do you want to do yoga?".
You can do yoga without being flexible
I personally did not do ballet or gymnastics. I'm not particularly flexible. I do not know how to make the big gap and I did not touch the hands on the ground when I started to make the tweezers or Uttanasana.
In real life
You enter the pose according to your physical abilities of the moment, because we do not feel every day the same. You're in a mindless pose, without thinking about what you're going to do next or what you've done before. And this does not require to be flexible, finally if be flexible of the mind. 😉 OK, not getting to do the poses that the teacher shows is sometimes frustrating, but by force of practice our body gets used and softens little by little.
The philosophy of Yoga
Yoga is a practice for meditation. The asanas were created to allow men to stay for hours in meditation in the position of the Lotus. When you pose, you need to be focused on your breathing, your body and your mind. The goal is to unite these 3 elements. Yoga is also based on breathing (pranayama) and there is no need for great flexibility. For breathing exercises, it is good to be seated, tailored or kneeling, even against a wall at the beginning if necessary. Having the right column allows a better use of our lungs. Even if nowadays, sitting with the right back becomes more and more difficult. Indeed, the use of the mobile phone we bend the back to the level of the cervical in a way too regular. We quickly realize these little things by doing a yoga class. Working his breathing is more difficult than it seems, it requires a great concentration. Because we breathe every moment without really thinking about it. And as soon as you have to apply to inspire and exhale accurately, it gets intense.
By practicing, we become more flexible and we take pleasure in discovering how. We become so attentive to everything that happens in our body, it is magical to feel his body relax, stretch and open. We also avoid injuries better because we are very attentive to the signals that our body sends us. Being flexible sometimes becomes the only goal, and it's OK. We want to be able to make these beautiful poses so know that it will require a lot of stretching work in parallel to your yoga practice.
The real question
Why do you want to do yoga?
As I have well detailed here, yoga practice brings many benefits to our body and mind. So the motivations should not be missed! For my part, I started to yoga because I quickly saw the beneficial effects on my stress. I was feeling better and managing my life better every day. The reason you practice yoga can be to be more flexible and it's great. But as I mentioned in my previous article, we often come to a yoga class for 2 reasons:
- to recover after an injury or physical pain (mainly back)
- to reduce stress and feel better, sleep better especially
Don't forget that doing yoga is learning to unite your mind and body. Learn to listen to what you feel internally and externally, in your physical and psychic body.
Doing yoga is more "easy" when you are flexible
In many yoga poses, the stretching of the back of the legs (hamstring muscles), the opening of the hips (especially the famous muscle psoas) or the rear bending of the spine are sought. Without some flexibility in these areas, some postures will be more difficult to achieve. So yes, the more flexible, the more postures are accessible. Namely that the extreme poses that you see on Instagram are often made by former ballet dancers or gymnasts. Because having used his body to stretch very often since we were small makes a big difference. But with a lot of work and training, even starting late (me at more than 30 years) one becomes much more flexible. Being flexible allows above all to be able to make more asanas (postures). But Yoga also includes many other things as a philosophy of life: pranayama, breathing exercises, dharana, concentration and dhyana, meditation. In fact it's like when you make a trip. If we take the plane, we are faster to destination, but we did not really experience and became aware of the way to get there and the distance traveled. If my body is supple, it requires less effort to get into the poses. The benefits of the learning process can be lost. This is the time that forces us to focus on our sensations and learn to listen to our bodies. We're trying to figure out how our bodies work. By being flexible, if I do the pose quickly and then there. So it's not really Yoga anymore. But learn to become flexible and get into the pose, Yes!
Being flexible is a sign of good health
Flexibility gives us mobility in the magnitude of our movements. Not being flexible is often a sign of accumulated tensions. The back and shoulders are areas that are often painful because rarely stretched.
Advice if you are not flexible
Start with beginner classes and choose a style of Yoga according to your desires or needs, your abilities and your affinities. Choose your yoga style here.