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Yes, You can do Yoga!

Debunking yoga myth #1: why inflexibility is not a barrier to practicing yoga…so begin your practice today! By Avery Rich

Reading time: 4 minutes

As a yoga teacher I hear this line all the time: “I’m too inflexible to do yoga.” Well, I’m here to set the record straight — yoga is for every and any kind of body! To be fair, yes, yoga challenges our flexibility, and yes, this can perhaps be scary. But let’s take a closer look at why your level of flexibility or inflexibility is no barrier to practicing yoga.

There is no posture an inflexible person cannot do

Inflexibility in the body is not a barrier to doing yoga. Aside from the fact that many yoga poses do not require any flexibility at all, the ones that do challenge our flexibility are designed. to be modified to what you need. For example, Uttanasana, which is a standing forward fold pose, does not require us to be able to fold forward and touch the ground. On the contrary, there is encouragement to take your hands to blocks or a chair; another option is to grab opposite elbows in the fold.

There is no emphasis placed on having to bring hands to the ground, which would be extremely challenging to most bodies. We are also encouraged in the practice to use props to accommodate postures in order to allow all bodies — including the so-called ‘inflexible bodies’ — to find ease in the poses. Uttanasana is just one example of such a pose; if you name a pose, whether it addresses flexibility or not, there is a prop or an adjustment to accommodate it and make it accessible to every body. Yoga is for everyone!

We have to start somewhere

There are some people who are naturally flexible; they always have been and they always will be. I remember a girl I went to school with who was easily able to do the splits. I recall admiring this because this was something my body just could not do (aargh those tight hamstrings!). In reality, the majority of people are not naturally flexible and it something that has to be worked on. Does this mean they simply are not cut out to do yoga? On the contrary, we have to start somewhere. The more we work at opening our hamstrings, for instance, the more the hamstrings will open.

The same goes for other tight or inflexible areas in the body, including the hips and the shoulders (the list goes on). If we ignore our inflexibility and become resigned to just never being able to find space in the muscles and joints, as we grow older, we will simply get tighter and tighter. To go one step further: this tightness will become more and more problematic, even potentially leading to injury. Ignoring tightness in the body, or being resigned to it, won’t help and may actually bring harm to our bodies.

Will I ever see any results if I am inflexible?

he quick answer to this question is yes! Of course, there are no guarantees in life for anything. Can I guarantee you a certain amount of results? No. But what I can tell you is that the more you work at addressing inflexibility, the better you will feel and your physical body will respond to the poses. It takes time, but it does happen. I have been doing yoga for a long time now and I can say that my hamstrings at the start of a yoga class do not feel like the same hamstrings by the end of that same class; I feel more open and it’s very noticeable to me. The same goes for my hips, my shoulders, and perhaps most importantly, my mind.

Yoga is designed for all bodies, so the next time you think the limiting thought that “I am too inflexible to do yoga” remind yourself that, in fact, yoga is just what the inflexible body actually needs!

Yes, You can do Yoga!

Avery Rich a yoga instructor based in Winnipeg, Canada, and founder of the Journey Into Yoga podcast, in which she explores and demystifies yoga and its many postures. Visit:

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First published in November 2009, OM Yoga magazine has become the most popular yoga title in the UK. Available from all major supermarkets, independents and newsstands across the UK. Also available on all digital platforms.