Sunday, May 27, 2012

Don't Be Shy About Your Flexibility

I've been saying it for years and I'm still saying it. "You don't have to be flexible to do yoga." And still people explain to me how they're not flexible enough to come to a yoga class. I try to encourage people as much as I can and then I leave them alone.

It's really okay to be as flexible or as inflexible as you are. That's how you are right now. If you come to class and can't stretch as far as the person next to you in class, so what? I know that it might feel discouraging to some people, but that's really only if you're comparing yourself or feel like there's someplace in the pose you're supposed to be that you're not in already.

On the other hand, there are some naturally (or with practice) super-flexible people who've also asked me if it's okay to be in class doing their extra-bendy expressions of the poses. Of course! If you have to loop around extra to get that same stretch, please do. Sometimes these people can feel left out if the focus is on beginners who aren't naturally flexible.

The trick as a teacher is to support the people who are less flexible so they don't get hurt and so they aren't shy about using props or being as stiff as they are and to encourage the more flexible people to find their stretch and not be shy about being so stretchy.

It's one of the reasons classes have become so specialized. What happens in my experience is we do the same poses in different selections of people who are more similar, but because the people who come have self-selected to be in the group, they have more in common at first glance. Even though we could all just be in one big room doing "yoga," we separate ourselves into beginners and intermediates, power and yin yang, hatha and ashtanga, and then people wonder where they "fit in." For some teachings, it's better to have people there looking for the same thing from the class, and in other scenarios it really doesn't matter.

1 comment:

Imtiajnipu said...

Yes, flexibility is important. As a Yoga Instructor working at Anamaya Yoga I know that sometimes trainees put themselves into unhealthy comparison and some how feel inferiority complex. So from the very first class we try to encourage them to practice NON-JUDGEMENT. Another way I find very effective is make them share their feelings and problems related to practicing Yoga with each other.

Monirul Hoque
Yoga Instructor