One of the biggest myths around yoga is that you have to be flexible. While yoga is an exercise that involves stretching of the muscles, and in Vinyasa, the connective tissue, one certainly doesn’t have to be flexible to practice it. In fact,
“many beginners who initially dip their toe into yoga do it to gradually become more flexible over time and to improve physical health and longevity.”
Take it from me. Ever since I was young, I had been into athletics. As a kid, I played soccer, softball, and basketball, and that lasted well until I graduated high school. I didn’t play sports in college, but I remained active by doing outdoor activities, working out, and the likes. I was coached in sports that often had a good solid period of stretching as part of our warm-ups, and combined with being in my late teens, well, I was flexible, energized, grounded, and all the other wonderful things that accompany youth.
Working out and being active on my own was all well and dandy. It kept me healthy, and I even avoided the “freshman 15”.
But here’s the kicker- ya girl stopped stretching.
I would work out at the gym for about 45 minutes a few times a week, and I’d dedicate maybe a minute or two of that to stretching. I know, I know- every fitness professional is probably cringing at the thought of that. I am, too, knowing what damage it had done to my body.
I got into yoga about a year and a half ago. It was something that would be casually mentioned to me, I’d read about its benefits, and I even had friends who were into it. Knowing I was being a jerk to my body by not stretching enough after workouts, and by letting myself become stiff as a board, I wasn’t sure if I could even do yoga. “This will be so embarrassing for me,” I thought.
Now I obviously couldn’t jump right into doing the Firefly Pose (Tittibhasana), but I could do Cat/Cow, Warrior, and Downward Dog, and eventually, I could do more intermediate poses.
“Yoga was alright. I found myself getting a little bored with it, but so many people swore by it, so I knew I was doing something wrong.”
Queue my spiritual awakening.
Just after I started yoga, I had a friend recommend a book to me that completely changed my life and opened me up to my true spiritual self. I always knew my spirituality was there, and I always knew there was some divine energy guiding my life and spirit. What I didn’t do, however, was address it, practice it, and let it flow into my life to start being happier, more positive, have more faith in outcomes, and banish my fear of uncertainty. My spiritual awakening developed over the course of the year, reading more books from Gabrielle Bernstein, Bob Proctor, Jen Sincero, and other spiritual people who’ve harnessed source energy to spread love, live their best life and bring their mind, body, and soul to the highest.
“Now that I was doing yoga regularly, had become more flexible, and had invited in the spiritual element, I was ready to branch out and see if there was anything else I could be doing to take my practice even higher.”
Queue my first yoga class.
Just an FYI, doing a yoga class is a heck of a lot different than doing a yoga YouTube video or busting out poses on your own from a book or an online magazine. Oh yeah, yoga instructors WORK you. And it was...ah-mazing.
My first class was an hour-long Vinyasa yoga class for “beginners.” Let me tell you, even though I had been doing yoga for a little while, I felt like a beginner in that class. Yoga instructors take the time to make it an entire experience for you which makes it so different to practice in a class. So we started with an opening mindful meditation, we were holding, relaxing, and “breathing” into poses, and we ended with a nice Savasana where she even provided an ice cold washcloth for everyone to drape over their eyes. It was phenomenal.
“I walked out of there feeling grounded, more flexible than I was when I walked in, and overall just light on my feet.”
It helped take my practice higher and made me want to push myself to improve my flexibility even more (safely). It made me want to learn more about how I can strengthen my spiritual connection to make yoga a unique, experience for me, Mikaela. I wanted to find my yoga.
Bottom line, you don’t have to flexible to do yoga. You don’t have to spiritual, you don’t have to be athletic, you don’t even have to do it in a class. Yoga is your own unique practice that naturally guides you to your highest self the more you do it. In my case, I became more flexible, yes, but I also became more spiritual and opened myself up to new experiences. For some, it could help heal scars from past injuries mental and physical, improve their joint health, or just allow an escape from daily stress.
You don’t have to be, or have, anything special to do yoga. Just begin your practice and let it naturally become your own.