When I encourage people to try yoga or explain that I am a yoga teacher, the most common response is “I can’t do yoga because I am not flexible.” This is like me saying, “I cannot play basketball because I am not 6 feet tall,” or “I cannot run because I don’t have special, expensive sneakers designed for running.” It does not mean that we cannot participate in these activities, but, perhaps, we don’t have the natural talents or luxurious tools. Some people were born tall and others naturally flexible. We don’t invest in expensive equipment until we have invested our time. One of the beauties of yoga is all it requires is your body. You don’t need a fancy mat or fancy clothes…You can even do yoga naked.
So when I hear this response, it is just an excuse. A misconception. Yoga is not for only flexible people. Developing a flexible body is a result of practicing. So is strength and balance.
Yoga translates as union. It is a union between your body and mind. Between your spirit and the universal energy. It is the coming into being and the ceasing to be.
We move our body to the flow of our breath. We are not thinking about the laundry or work or the date we are going on tonight, we are thinking about our lungs inhaling and exhaling. Nothing in your mind. Empty your mind. Breathe. In. Out.
In order for us to go further in our practice, to gain more body control, we have to learn to cut our thoughts. Because we need concentration when we are upside down balancing on our hands. We need to teach our hips to relax when we’ve been in pigeon pose for over two minutes and our leg is going numb. Each time we hit the mat, we meet our threshold. We say hello to the wall and it is up to us to see if we can push it. Push the boundary even if it’s only a millimeter a day. Or don’t push it at all. Only you know what is best for your body.
Yoga is listening to your body. It is listening to your mind. It is surrendering. Letting go. Relaxing. Sweating. Breathing. Releasing. Existing. Healing. You can learn a lot about yourself by getting on the mat 1 hour a day. Because for that one hour all you are focusing on is moving your body and breathing. Your mind will wander. You will get frustrated. You will feel uncomfortable. This is why yoga is called a practice. Keep trying and those drops of bliss that you feel will turn to liters. And it will pour out onto the rest of your everyday life.
Be one with yourself. Learn about your body. Learn about your mind. Practice yoga.