The number one reason people tell me they can’t do yoga: “I’m not flexible enough.”
To respond to this, I would like to reference a lesson I learned from Getting Things Done, by David Allen. A book on time management, in his introduction he discusses the reasons why people often avoid planning for the future: they don’t have enough time. His response is that you’ll never have enough time. Waiting until you have enough time to plan ahead is like saying that you’ll wait you lose some weight to go on that diet.
Saying you can’t do yoga because you’re not flexible enough is the exact same thing. Let me tell you right now: being inflexible is the whole point!
I get it, going to a class full of young people (mostly women) who are already fit and flexible is intimidating, so here’s a few tips:
- Only look at your fellow classmates if you’re unsure what you’re supposed to be doing and need to follow along. Comparing is exactly the opposite of what yoga is all about. Also, they might be doing it wrong, or pushing their bodies out of alignment for the sake of going further into the pose.
- Keep your focus internal – yoga is about your personal experience in the pose.
- Remember that every body is constructed differently and that your bone structure has a huge impact on how your body will look in a pose. Again, this makes comparing kind of pointless.
- If you can afford them, take private lessons. You’ll learn the basics and feel secure moving on to group classes if you want to.
- Try a DVD or online yoga class – I can honestly say from experience that you will not learn as much or go as far without an in-person instructor, but you can at least familiarize yourself with the basic poses on your own. Just be careful – it’s much easier to injure yourself if you are a beginner practicing alone at home!
- Most studios offer beginner level classes that will be full of people just like you!
- Listen to your body! No yoga instructor will get upset with you for taking a child’s pose if you need a rest, and always pull back a step if you feel any pain.
- Let your instructor know if you are a beginner, either to yoga as a whole or to the particular style of yoga taught in that class. They will know to keep an eye on you and offer modifications if you need them, without singling you out in front of everyone.