Perhaps, you have seen this line that makes the rounds on social media from time to time: saying you are not flexible enough to try yoga is like saying you are too dirty to take bath. Basically, that statement is true. It is through yoga that we gain more flexibility; it is by taking a bath that we become clean. Unfortunately, lack of flexibility is still one of the most commonly used excuses to avoid beginning the practice of yoga.
The Inflexible Mind
Avoiding things is always easier if we have an excuse. Assumed lack of physical flexibility seems like a good excuse not to do yoga. Some people who use this excuse may have other reasons they are not interested in yoga, but use the excuse because it’s convenient. For those that really are worried they are not flexible enough, they have a misunderstanding of the purpose of yoga. For both of these groups, looking at the possibilities of what yoga offers with an open, more flexible mind might bring them to the yoga mat.
The Challenge of Too Much Flexibility
In reality, naturally flexible people need to be more careful and aware than the rest of us when they practice yoga. Though they move more easily into many of the poses, they are at a higher risk of over flexing their joints, causing short term injury or long term damage to tendons and ligaments. The person with a flexible body type should move with greater awareness and work to improve the other areas of their practice. Less flexible people, while they may have a harder time attaining the final version of some poses, are less likely to strain or injure their joints.
Flexibility is Only Part of the Equation
Several other physical traits and abilities are equally as important as flexibility in the practice of yoga. These include strength, stamina and balance. Through the physical actions of yoga, muscular strength increases. Most yoga poses focus on the muscular actions needed to align the body and maintain the asana. Maintaining the poses, as well as repeating them, increases stamina. Balance is also an important component of yoga. Like flexibility, it is not required to begin yoga, but improves with practice.
All four of these components are of equal value in yoga. Some of us are naturally strong, but not flexible, or vice versa. We should not let our perceived lack of ability in any one area keep us away from yoga. Through the ongoing practice of yoga, we improve in all four areas and become more balanced overall. The next time someone tells you they are not flexible enough for yoga, share your experience that flexibility is only one part of yoga; lack of flexibility is all the more reason to try yoga.