March 1, 2012

I Don’t Do Yoga, I’m Not Flexible. ~ Kelly Larisey

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard, “I don’t do yoga, I’m not flexible,” I wouldn’t be rich, but I would be able to continue my daily bhakti chai habit.

Photo credit: Cara Brostrom

Yes, flexibility is a benefit of yoga asana, but not a prerequisite. It doesn’t matter if you are unable to touch your toes or unable to come into a lunge – your body will learn how to do this after you start “doing” yoga.

There is still quite a bit of backlash from Equinox’s viral video of Briohny Smith’s beautiful yoga practice. With that said, how are we supposed to spread the love of yoga to new students when the public is seeing advertisements of perfect, flexible bodies performing such advanced postures? I get the message that is trying to be sent, but I am not sure if the message is being received correctly by the general public.

When starting anything new, it is important to start without any preconceptions.

It’s hard, but necessary. Think back to the time in your childhood when you were taught how to ride a bike – beginning a yoga practice is no different. The most important piece to be aware of when starting a yoga practice is to be flexible in the mind and heart – meaning, start with an open mind and open heart. From there, everything will blossom.

Once you begin practicing, you’ll begin to see a transformation in your life off the mat, it might sound cliché, but, it is so true. So, get on the mat! Go. Now. Take three classes and then tell me what you think. You’ll have no clue what adho mukha svanasana is, but, you’ll get it, I promise.

A couple nuggets of knowledge for you to take with you to your neighborhood yoga studio so that you won’t feel like too much of  a yoga newbie:

  1. Do us all a favor – don’t wear any perfume or smell good lotions
  2. Bring a mat or be prepared to pay a mat rental fee
  3. Bring a water bottle (full of water, of course)
  4. Bring a towel, especially if the class is heated
  5. Take your shoes off before entering the studio
  6. Be prepared to discuss any bodily injuries with your teacher
  7. The Sanskrit name of yoga postures all end in “asana
  8. Yoga classes are all composed of five defining poses (forward folds, back bends, balance, inversions, twists) that can be performed in four different positions (standing, sitting, supine, prone)

After your first class, you’ll be hooked – you’ll walk out of the studio feeling wonderfully, walking taller, standing taller, and enjoying the yoga-high.

Benefits of a physical yoga practice include (but are not limited to):

  1. Stress reduction
  2. Increased and enhanced fitness
  3. Increased flexibility and strength
  4. Body-mind balance
  5. Pain relief
  6. Enhanced breathing
  7. Weight management
  8. Improved circulation
  9. Focusing on the present
  10. Inner peace, calmness, clarity
  11. Happiness
  12. Not to mention, you will also be able to handle hard decisions and the ebb and flow of life with compassion, grace, and poise

Yes, beginning a yoga practice can be a bit overwhelming, scary, uncomfortable, etc, but, isn’t one of the ends of yoga practice learning how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations?

Read more: The Joys of Subbing & Accuracy & Inaccuracy in Yoga Practice: It’s all About Perception. 

Photo credit here.


Editor: Tanya Lee Markul

Kelly Larisey is a yoga teacher at The Little Yoga Studio in beautiful Boulder, Colorado. She has been practicing yoga for the last six years. While Kelly was attending graduate school for counseling and guidance, she found the transformative effects of her yoga practice greatly benefit her work with students. She immediately enrolled in a year-long yoga teacher training program to weave together her two passions. Finishing both her Master’s and her RYT 200 in July, 2010, Kelly and her husband relocated to Boulder to immerse themselves in the Boulder lifestyle of mindfulness, sustainability, and outdoor recreation. Kelly’s yoga practice has helped her maintain balance, peace, and calmness. Her love of yoga is contagious – she enjoys spreading the yoga love! Feel free to contact her at [email protected].

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