Yoga 101.1: I can’t touch my toes…am I disqualified?
Somewhere along the way in the past 6 years, yoga has become a defining trait of mine. It has not been purposeful, although I suspect the yoga-themed, inspirational quotes from Pinterest that have overtaken my FB, Twitter and blog may have something to do with it.
C’mon, that’s a good one, right? We could spend hours unpacking that little gem!!
Questions fly at me constantly. I will get the occasional snarky “How is yoga? Feeling relaxed?” Or I am asked to contort my body, on the spot. Thanksgiving became a yoga pose challenge this year. My mother-in-law chirped “Can you do that pose?” when a commercial popped up showing a yogi in eagle pose. Really? After Thanksgiving? The best part was the critique of proper “form” as I wrapped my skinny jean legs around each other, struggling to hold in all bodily noises…. sigh.
But more often than not, the questions seem to come from a place of subtle interest. Like if I could answer a few basic ones, maybe, just maybe, they would take the chance and give this yoga-thing a whirl. Is it hot at Y2? Why is it so damn hot at Y2? What if I can’t do this or that? I’m not flexible – can I still try yoga? Hey, look at this picture….can you put your legs behind your head? (ummmm….no.)
So here we go….all things yoga answered. Little gems to pass along to all those friends who are teetering on the edge. Forward, share, do what you do. Hey, maybe you will learn a little bit, too.
“Do I have to be flexible in order to start yoga?”
(our own teacher Johnna Smith…who is exceptionally bendy!)
Of course not. And you don’t have to know the poses. Or have the “right” yoga clothes. Or be able to do the entire class without a break.
Listen, no matter how long anyone has been practicing (not doing…practicing…get it?) there are certain poses that just aren’t accessible. Yet. It doesn’t mean we don’t try them or work on them or do other poses to get us closer to the elusive ones….
For me it is all about the shoulders and chest. Tight tight tight. They do not rotate and stretch. Yet. I can’t clasp my hands behind my back and have my palms touch, let alone raise them one inch. Yet. After six years of work, my fingers are more closely laced. If I use a towel my hands are closer together. Progress. Patience.
If I compared my shoulders to 95% of the other folks in the room, I might start to get a bit frustrated. Most people can walk in and do more than I can (I blame years of swimming and tennis and copious amounts of perfectionist stress for my shoulder situation). But I don’t compare. (ok, I have learned not to compare….)
(Y2 teacher Liz Bundon assisting a student in a hamstring stretch)
And here is the kicker…they are not judging me, either. No, really. No one cares about my shoulders or your ability to touch your toes in forward fold. I am just simply not that important. Neither are you (sorry, it’s true).
My advice for the non-flexible? Bring it. Bring every bit of that to the mat and see what happens. My guess is that you are going to find that while you may not be able to touch your toes because of tight hamstrings, you will be able to rock another pose. Seeing the progress in the difficult places will come.
Off the mat? The practice of self-acceptance… of moving away from perfection and focusing on the work to move forward and improve. Learning to stop the comparisons.
Ta Da! Yoga Magic.
Next up – Yoga 101.2 – Will I get a good workout doing yoga at Y2? (insert snicker….)
Want to share your story? Heard or saw something amazing today? Dying for an answer to a yoga question?
I would absolutely LOVE to hear from you. While I have a lot of yoga Kool-Aid in me, my well can always use a bit of refreshing. We can even make this anonymous if you aren’t into the whole fame thing….something I clearly do not have a problem with. Let’s chat about it! firstname.lastname@example.org or just grab me at the studio! (I’ll be the one with my notebook by my mat so I don’t miss a single bit of magic to pass along to you.