July 14, 2013

Can’t Touch Your Toes Either? ~ Manon Newberry

Will I be the only yoga teacher who can’t touch her toes?

If you’re a yogi, you’ve had someone tell you, “I can’t do yoga because I’m not flexible.” I hear this a lot, and people don’t know what to say when I tell them I’m not flexible either.

Just the other day, a co-worker said “Really? You still can’t touch your toes after all the yoga you’ve been doing?”

I smiled and said something about everybody being different.

Yoga is not a magic pill. Do yoga and be happy. Do yoga and find inner peace. Do yoga and be flexible.

It doesn’t work that way.

I am not flexible and that is okay.

It took me a long time to get here, but now I have made it, and I quite like it. Last year during a hatha class, I was struggling to get close to the floor in dragonfly pose when it occurred to me that it didn’t matter. I realized having my nose touch the ground would not make me happier, smarter or a better person. It would just make me a person who could touch the floor with her face.

That doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with my tight muscles and sometimes wish I could raise my leg higher in standing splits, instead of hanging out in what I like to call “standing right angle”.

I enjoy hot yoga because it loosens me up and makes me feel freer.

Yoga is a very personal practice, so how deep I get in my dragonfly pose really doesn’t affect other people. However, I’m starting my yoga teacher training in a couple of days and it’s bringing up some of my old insecurities about my un-flexible self. Insecurities that I thought had gone away.

Will I be the only yoga teacher who can’t touch her toes?

What if someone asks me to demonstrate a pose and I can’t do it? Will people take me seriously as a teacher if I can’t do the poses to their full extent? I have no problems falling out of side crow or fallen angel. In fact, I enjoy poses which challenge my strength and balance. One of the reasons I wanted to become a yoga teacher was to help people realize that it’s okay to fall down.

Falling down can actually be a lot of fun. I am, as my teacher Ichih Wang says, blessed with stiffness. A lot of people struggle with flexibility, and maybe they could use a teacher who understands what they are going through. I need to remind myself of the girl who decided there were more important things in life than getting her nose to the ground.

I’ve made friends with several of my yoga teachers, and when I told them I was going to do my teacher training, each one of them had lovely things to say. Not a single person mentioned I am not flexible because it is not important. I don’t expect my yoga teachers to be perfect; therefore, I can’t hold myself to a perfection standard either.

I am happy being me, even if my toes are out of reach.



Manon Newberry is a teacher, yogi and writer living in Québec, Canada. She likes to read, dance and travel. She loves trying new things and then sharing them on her blog.



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Assistant Ed: Dana Pauzauskie/Ed: Bryonie Wise

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