One of the most common fears I see people have when I talk about yoga is that they don’t think they are flexible to be able to do it. I find this deeply frustrating, and think the Yoga industry and Instagram have a lot to answer for!
When you look up Yoga online, you are confronted by images of young, slender, incredibly flexible people, mostly women, with their bodies in a variety of complex and intimidating contortions.
It is no wonder people look at Yoga and then think ‘I can’t possibly do that’.
I have been practising Yoga for 10 years. I did gymnastics as a child, and might well have a touch of Hypermobility Syndrome (excessive flexibility in my joints)
If you, as a total beginner with no dance or gymnastic history, came to my class able to perform the postures I teach the way I do, I’d be amazed.
I recently asked in a poll in my Facebook group about reasons people have for not attending Yoga classes. Most people said they feel that their aren’t flexible enough.
The Strictly Come Dancing effect.
My parents, maybe like you, look forward to the annual return of Strictly Come Dancing, and enjoy watching the contestants battle it out. They develop deeply considered opinions on the style, standard, quality of music, costume, choreography, training and more. My mother even started dancing lessons for some years before health issues got in the way.
And she isn’t alone. Mature Times reported that more people are seeking dance lessons since the arrival of Stricly into the country’s consciousness.
Now I am sure that very few of the people who sign up to learn beginners ballroom dancing saw Anton Du Beke dancing and assumed that if they can’t already dance like him then there is no point trying?
You wouldn’t think there is no point going to guitar lessons if you can’t play the guitar, or not learn to kit if you can’t already knit. If you wanted to learn anything new, you would assume the role of the beginner and accept that you can’t do it yet.
So why is it different for Yoga?
Any Body can benefit from Yoga
I think part of the problem is that Yoga is still quite a new thing in the west, and has been misunderstood. It has gone from being the domain of the hippies to a multi billion dollar industry that relies on the visual impact of these contortions and gymnastics to make an impact to encourage people to buy classes and products. It is marketed almost exclusively as a form of exercise, and has been blended with so many high impact exercise forms that it is often hard to distinguish from aerobics.
This has made it seem quite intimidating to many people. And yoga should never be intimidating.
Yoga does not require flexibility. You don’t have to be able to touch your toes, or perform the postures to the same degree as your teacher. I think that because Yoga is marketed with so many perfect postures, we think that it requires perfection regardless where you are with it.
And yet this is the exact opposite of what Yoga truly is.
Yoga tells us that we are actually perfect as we are. That by being in human form we are already pretty damn amazing. That one of the most important things we can do is to accept who we are, where we are, and at the level we are at right now. We need to grow and evolve through life, and if we aren’t as healthy as we could be, we are wise to take action to improve that, but you have to start with acceptance of where you are now.
If you have a stiff body, accept that as your reality right now. Be grateful for the movement you have, but look at what you can do to make it better.
You need to become more flexible
Flexibility isn’t a prerequisite for Yoga, but it is for a healthy life
If you aren’t flexible in your body, you really NEED the benefits that Yoga will give you. Inflexibility in the body. An inflexible body can lead to reduced circulation, greater risk of injury, back problems, reduced range of motion and greater stress.
When you practice Yoga regularly, you will gain greater flexibility. You will also gain strength and balance, both of which are also vital for wellbeing. You do not need to have these in order to begin. If you are very inflexible, your teacher can make adjustments to the postures for you to be able to practice. I have several students who sit on chairs for some of the practices, who rest their legs on chairs for the relaxation, who sit out of some practices and focus on their breath.
In the tradition I was trained in, the Yoga of Swami Gitananda, we practice loosening movements known as Jattis at the start of each class. These practices are hugely powerful and will lead to a marked increase in flexibility if practised regularly. You can see a video of these Jattis that I recorded on International Yoga Day.
They are benefiting hugely, and I see their flexibility increasing on a week by week basis. Movement that wasn’t possible for them a few weeks ago is now developing and their sense of wellbeing is developing with it.
You don’t have to go to a class
A lack of flexibility can be offputting because you don’t want to look out of place in a yoga class. Well, as a local class teacher, I can assure you that this won’t be the case – very few people in my classes at least have high levels of flexibility, although as I mention above, they are all improving.
If, however, you really feel uncomfortable about the idea of going to a class, maybe Beginners Yoga Club is the solutions for you?
BYC is an entirely online Yoga studio with live classes delivered through video conferencing, so you can see me live, and I can see you if you choose. The classes run weekly, and I record them, so you can access them at other times to suit your schedule. No more worrying about how you will make it to class. Now you can fit the class in to your own schedule.
In addition to the general class, we also have a monthly Pranayama (breath control) class. In this I will teach you to breathe better. This help to increase your lung capacity and efficiency of your breath. You can learn to manage your emotions by managing your breath. I will write another post on the many benefits of learning to breathe. There is a resource library with videos, ebooks and audios that you can access at any time. I will update this from time to time.
There is also a Facebook group where you can get to know your fellow students, ask questions, share experiences. You will also have regular access to me, your teacher.
Beginners Yoga Club is a fantastic opportunity for you to explore Yoga in your own space and time, and at just £19.99, for 4 classes, a workshop, access to your teacher and the other resources, it is tremendous value for money!
One of our members, Joe, just had his first class, and has this to say
“I had my first live yoga class tonight with the fabulous Esther Nagle, who somehow managed to make me feel like I’d been to the gym and a relaxing spa day all in one 90 minute session.
Favourite Yoga posture so far… definitely the Warrior! -/\-”
If you would like to know more about Beginners Yoga Club, take a look here to find out more, and get your first 30 days for just £10!
Drop me a message if you have any questions at all, and I look forward to welcoming you to Beginners Yoga Club