Do you need to be flexible to do Yoga?
There is a misconception that in order to try yoga, you need to be flexible. With so many of our social feeds full of women in extreme end-range yoga poses it’s easy to see why we could pick up this misconception. Yoga will simply help you gain flexibility with many other health benefits.
Flexibility is a great side effect that develops from practicing yoga, but is definitely not a prerequisite. Most new clients who start yoga are not flexible, nor is there any expectation or need for them to be. You can start yoga at any time, from any starting point.
Yoga is different to exercise. It works on a whole body approach, balancing the physical, energetic, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects in our life.
During yoga the mind is guided inwardly, to tune in to what sensations are felt, and where they are felt, developing a deeper awareness of your body and better understanding of how your body moves.
Postures and movements are used to create a balance of strength and space internally. Repeating movements over a few weeks allows that awareness to develop and deepen, moving your body mindfully helps build this strength.
A case study assigned 66 elderly participants to either practice yoga or calisthenics (a type of body weight exercise.) After one year, total flexibility of the yoga group increased by nearly four times that of the calisthenics group.
It just goes to show it’s never too late to try yoga. It can improve flexibility, posture, balance and strength, along with many other health benefits. As with anything in life, it requires effort and progress comes over time.
Depending on your initial level of flexibility, props such as blocks, bolsters, or straps are used to add support to your body. They help you find more length in each posture, by releasing tight muscles.
Movement patterns become refined and your body moves more efficiently. Movement becomes easier and more fluid. Flexibility is just one of the many benefits you feel.
“Julie and yoga have changed my life. I used to have all sorts of niggles and stiffness typical of an office job. Attending yoga regularly has made it disappear, giving me increased flexibility and strength. Julie really listens when you share these personal little challenges, supports you in working to conquer them. Julie teaches you how to listen to your own body, encourages you to explore, and above all, have fun doing it. I look forward to Yoga with Julie every week.” Pam D.B
So remember, yoga isn’t about touching your toes, it’s what you learn on the way down there.
Farinatti PT, Rubini EC, Silva EB, Vanfraechem JH. Flexibility of the elderly after one-year practice of yoga and calisthenics. Int J Yoga Therap. 2014;24:71-7. PMID: 25858653.