Yoga is not for me
When I tried to introduce yoga to my friends who rarely exercise, telling them how yoga would benefit their health, most of them replied, "I'm not flexible enough." Interestingly enough, when I recommended yoga to athletes or friends who exercise regularly and diligently, most of them also replied, "I'm not flexible enough to go to yoga classes."
With all that you see in the media these days, yoga is generally portrayed (and thus, perceived) as "flexibility", "putting the foot behind the head", "touching the toes", or "closing the eyes and meditating". Yoga is essentially an approach to life - the flexibility that you gain through your yoga practice is only a by-product. There is actually so much more to yoga: it calms your mind, and with a calmed mind, we are able to enjoy more peace in our everyday lives.
I used to be very involved in weight training, exercise, and being obsessive about maintaining my weight at a certain level. I would read many books about diet and exercise, work out 6 to 7 times a week. I thought that by maintaining a perfect body image, I would be perfect and my life would be perfect. Yes, I achieved a toned, beautiful outer shell, but underneath, I was not happy. At that moment, yoga came into my life. I started to include yoga in my exercise routine and found myself happier, and more content with who I was and what I had. My body started to change, from tightness all over to gaining more control over a range of motion. I always say to my students, "I didn't start off being flexible when I first started my yoga practice, but it was all the time and the dedication that did the trick."
The word yoga means "to unite", "to join", or "to yoke". Yoga is to balance the strength and flexibility, to balance our yang and yin, or the sun and the moon. Most of us tend to lean towards one side of the spectrum - some people work out 7 days a week and some work out one day in 7 years. Some hope that by changing the outside, they will change the inside - and some are afraid to change anything at all. But living an extreme life with either too much or too little stimulation will eventually lead us to injuries or illnesses. The physical form of yoga (we call it "asana") can bring our bodies into a more balanced state. People who start off stiff will gain flexibility and the ones who start off flexible will gain muscle strength.
Yoga is not just for flexible people, it is really for everyone. My teacher Baron Baptiste once said that "yoga is not a magic cure-all, but the way it challenges our bodies, moves our stuck emotional energy, clears our mind, and inspires us to seek and live in truth can be a catalyst for amazing growth". Yoga is about teaching us how to be more receptive to what we don't know in our lives and embrace the present. When we say things such as "I'm not flexible enough", deep down we have already made a decision that we will not be open to things that we don't know about. In order to grow, we need to step out of our comfort zone and step into the unknown. If we need to know exactly what to expect in order to move ahead in our lives, we will be paralysed. Life is unpredictable and yoga teaches us how to handle the unpredictability.
To see whether you will enjoy yoga, the best way is to try it (at least 10 times in order to really feel the effect) before you decide. Keep an open mind and open heart to the options in your life. Remember - we don't transform by thinking, we change by being and doing it with a pure intent.
Enjoy your yoga practice :)
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