A few weeks ago a friend and longtime participant in my yoga classes called me after our daily virtual practice excited to share what came up for her during class.
“Finally, all the things you’ve been saying for years have clicked! These are the things I wish everyone knew about yoga.”
Without further ado… here are the the three things my friend and I would like you to know if you’ve been thinking about trying a yoga class.
1) You don’t have to be flexible.
Oh, do we pay lip service to this one!
Many a yoga teacher has uttered this phrase and, while they no doubt meant every word, it may have been hard to believe them when they were folded in half like a suitcase a mere moment prior.
And still, it is true. You do not need to be flexible.
To quote a teacher of mine, Judith Hansen Lasater, “No one’s tombstone ever read ‘he was able to touch his toes’.”
Whether you can or cannot touch your toes is simply not that interesting.
And sure, yoga can, and likely will, help you increase your flexibility, but more than that it helps increase our ADAPTABILITY. A mindful movement practice like yoga helps us better respond and adjust to new conditions.
For example, in my classes we do a lot of foot and ankle strengthening so that when you’re out for a walk and land on the curb or a root in a funny way you have strong, mobile, adaptable feet and ankles that can better handle a misstep which just might save you from a painful sprain.
So you’ve got tight hamstrings – so what! What’s more important is that you’re able to move around your world with ease and confidence.
2) There is no winning.
And the flip side of the coin is there is no losing. This is not a sport. Yoga is not a competition. There is no score or grade.
All you have to do is show up- whether that means showing up to practice on your own at home, in a studio, in a park, or virtually through your computer.
You can show up for 5 minutes, 25 minutes, or an hour.
You can do yoga with wet hair and no make up on.
You can practice in silence or with music- with a set sequence or no plan at all- inside or outside.
You can do yoga in expensive matching clothes or that free shirt you got for running a 5k in 2009.
All you have to do is show up.
3) There is nothing getting stronger won’t help.
A while ago I was helping a friend with a project; she was giving a presentation and I was assisting as her ‘cameraman.’ The camera was actually a MacBook Pro, and at one point I was to just stand still holding the computer chest high facing her. It was a simple task but those things sure do get heavy after a few minutes.
Halfway through I thought, ‘This is why I lift weights and do yoga!’ I have no doubt that before I began strength training I would have been trembling as I tried to hold the computer still. And without my mindfulness practice, I’d likely have been thinking, ‘How much longer?’
To be able to lend a hand and help a friend – this is one of the reasons we want to be strong.
Getting stronger allows us to pick things up, move things around, and brings things to us. Another way of saying that is – when we are strong we are better able to meet our needs and take care of ourselves and others.
Meeting our needs and taking care of ourselves builds confidence. Confidence allows us to explore and try new things.
There is literally nothing that getting stronger won’t help.
You can build strength in yoga and you can also bring the feeling of yoga and mindfulness to your strength training.
If you’re not sure how, when, or where to start, just start!
Take advice from the world of improv and use The Start Anywhere Rule: “You can begin to make progress on some dream or dreaded task at anytime.”
There are tons of yoga options online, for pay and for free and lots of wonderful local teachers and studios. And because lots of options can make deciding where to begin even more difficult so you can start right here.
Here’s a 30 minute gentle flow from my online class library.
Have fun and enjoy the challenges and wobbles that often come with trying something new!
About the Author:
Meredith Amann is a certified Ashtanga and Yoga Tune Up® and Health Coach. Meredith works with yogis and movers of all ages, from 3-year-olds in her PK classes, high school athletes, as well as adults and seniors. Off the mat Meredith can often be found on the tennis court – as an athlete she is passionate about improving performance, enhancing mobility, preventing injuries, and quieting the monkey mind. Meredith has appointments available through Anchor under Yoga Therapy and Health Coach. You can also learn more about Meredith at yogawhileyouwork.com.