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I'm not flexible enough to do yoga

Updated: Jun 29, 2018

This lament is often heard by Yoga Teachers, as many people genuinely feel that an extraodinary level of hypermobility is needed to practice Yoga. Why do people think this? In a nutshell: social media. As happy as yogis are that more and more people are discovering Yoga's wonderful life-enhancing benefits, the image-centred push from social media, which has been part of the success story in building Yoga's profile, alas seems preoccupied solely with photogenic asana (postures). As lovely and awe-inspiring as these images may be they simply reduce Yoga to gymnastics (which seemingly also needs a bikini, a coastal precipice, and a foot dangerously close to your ear). Whilst that may be appealing to fit and healthy 20-somethings, it kinda leaves the rest of us out in the cold. Is Yoga only for fit, young, bendy people? Thankfully the answer is a resounding 'NO!' As we say in the IYTA, "Yoga is for every body", and we mean it. How? Yoga is a system of practices, a way of life in which an individual uses tools and practices to bring awareness of all the layers of their being - mental, physical, emotional, energetic, spiritual - in order to seek integration and connection of these layers. So more than the just the asana, we need to look at the 8 fold path of Raja Yoga:

Yamas - disciplines concerning our dealings with society and the world

Niyamas - disciplines pertaining to ourselves

Asana - physical posture

Pranayama - regulated breathing technique

Pratyahara - withdrawal fo the senses

Dharana - state of mind where mind is oriented to one point

Dhyana - meditation

Samadi - state of meditation in which only the object is meditation is apparent

Definitions courtesy of 'The Heart of Yoga, developing a Personal Practice', T.K.V Desikachar, Inner traditions International, Vermont, 1995

So now in that context there is something for everyone - and we can see how the perfect Downward-facing Dog is really a pretty small part of this amazing big picture. So next time someone feels yoga is not for them you could ask them "Can you breathe? If so then you can do Yoga."

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