When I started leading yoga classes, I would invite my friends to come and the most common excuse to not do it was “I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.”
I spent a lot of time trying to convince my friends that yoga had nothing to do with touching your toes or putting your feet behind your head—but it was rare that I could ever get that message through to them. They had seen these fancy pictures of someone’s yoga practice online or they had heard of this cliche and that was that.
That was how they saw yoga.
I will never stop trying, though. I will never stop inviting them to do yoga with me just as I will never stop inviting you to do yoga with me. I think yoga is for everyone. Tara Stiles, proclaimed yoga rebel says, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.”
Flexibility is more in the mind than something that they body can do for us. It is an idea that allows us to bend and not break. It is the super power of being able to see our boundaries in a yoga class and do something that feels more right for us and our body even if they instructor told us to do something else. It is the freedom to move our own way.
But, how do we start?
How do we get flexible?
This exercise is for the mind, but it can help the body is so many ways.
First, let’s get warmed up. I made this video for you, but you don’t have to do it. I have some other exercises for you today, too.
If the video does not resonate with you, then please don’t do it.
Take the best and leave the rest.
Take what works for you and forget everything else.
To keep things simple, start by standing nice and tall in mountain pose. Then, inhale the arms all the way out and up overhead. Look up and connect the palms. Then, exhale and dive down, bending at the waist.
There is no need to actually touch the floor. I recommend doing this exercise with a chair in front of you or just some kind of stable surface that you can hold onto. Hold onto the ledge of a table or counter or onto the back of a chair. Inhale and stand up nice and tall while still holding onto the chair or table. Then, exhale and bend at the waist, still holding onto the chair or table. Let your body become an L shape.
The important thing for this exercise is to round your back as you inhale up to stand and to lengthen the back as you exhale, forming a line: like an L.
This warms up the body and also helps bring focus onto the breath, bringing you into the present moment.
That’s all we really need to do to be flexible.
Ask yourself, does it really matter if I can touch my toes or not? Ask yourself, do I feel good breathing deeply, focusing, and moving my body?
Flexibility is being okay doing something else if one thing doesn’t work.
Flexibility is being so present in this moment that you are able to step back and view the situation with compassion and understanding from all of the perspectives.
Flexibility is love of self.
To get flexible, commit to a life that puts yourself first instead of trying to mirror the life of someone else (or they pose they take in yoga class).
There is only one you and we need you in this world.
Author: Stacy Porter
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: via the author