Do You Have to Be Flexible to Start a Yoga Practice?
As a yoga instructor, I often hear my friends say something along the lines of “Oh, I’m not flexible enough to do yoga” or even, “I’d love to try yoga but I can’t touch my toes.”
The idea that you have to be a naturally flexible or bendy person to start a yoga practice is a MYTH. In fact, often the opposite is true and beginners are drawn to yoga as a tool to increase flexibility. This was true for me when I first began practicing yoga. As an aspiring rock climber, I saw yoga as a tool to help increase strength and flexibility to improve my climbing. Now, I’ve been practicing yoga for over 10 years and while my flexibility has significantly improved, I’m always encountering new challenges in my practice. Through the years, I’ve learned to meet these challenges with patience and self-compassion. I actually love that after all this time, I’m always learning something new!
The most important thing about participating in any yoga practice is to learn what works best for your body through the use of props and modifications.
At my teacher training, instead of calling blocks, straps and bolsters ‘props’ we actually called them ‘pose enhancers’ (doesn’t that sound nice!?) to emphasize how important it was to encourage our students to incorporate using props in their practice. Props make challenging postures more accessible by allowing your body to experience correct and safe alignment while building strength and flexibility.
A modification is changing at least one element of a pose to enhance other components of the posture so that the body can safely experience the full benefits. For example, bending the knees in downward facing dog might help draw your chest and shoulders into alignment, actually, deepening the posture and increasing the benefits. Modifications also recognize that each body is unique and yoga postures are not ‘one size fits all.’
Here at Yoga House, one of our core values is to make yoga accessible to everyone. So we want to put an end to the myth that you need to be flexible to start practicing yoga and eliminate any stigma surrounding the use of modifications or props.
If you are new to yoga or have always wanted to try it, we encourage you to check out one of the following classes, which are great for beginners, and experiment with using modifications and props to enhance your practice!
Great Beginner Yoga Classes at Yoga House
- Gentle Yoga Mondays at 2:30
- Silver Sneakers Tuesdays at 8:30
- Candlelight Flow Tuesdays at 6:30
- Yin Yang Flow Wednesdays at 8:30
- Yin Restorative Fridays at 10:00
- Tai Chi Fridays at 2:30
As you develop a consistent yoga practice and explore which modifications and props best support your body in each posture, you’ll feel better and see progress!
How to Prepare for Your First Yoga Class