The myth prevails to this day. However, you’ll be thrilled to learn that yoga isn’t just about flexibility.
We’ve all peered into a yoga classes at our local fitness centers and had our jaws drop at some of the contorted positions in which yoga enthusiasts twist their bodies. The fear that your instructor would have you perform a scorpion or headstand pose on the first day of class canceled your aspirations on the spot.
John Campbell, a yoga instructor in New York, likens people’s initial reactions to yoga to that of someone who has never seen a car before but suddenly is a spectator at the Indianapolis 500.
“You might be like ‘Oh my god’ because the cars are moving so fast and creating a lot of noise. A person might look at all of this and think, I could never do that.” However, Campbell says, “once you became familiar with automobiles and are introduced to everyday vehicles, it’s easy.” The same is true for yoga.
If you’re thinking, But I’m a guy, and therefore not flexible, think again. Many of the top yogis and yoga experts are men. They are generally less flexible than women, says Campbell, but that doesn’t matter at all in yoga.
Yes, some people are naturally less flexible than others, but that fact is no different than someone being tall or short. This notion makes no difference as to whether or not you can perform yoga. You may do yoga for years, say experts, and your flexibility may not change.
The importance of yoga is about a state of mind, not flexibility. Part of yoga is learning to accept yourself and others wherever you are. “Flexibility can be a pleasing reward of practicing yoga but it’s not a prerequisite,” Campbell says. So, if you happen to be a person without a lot of flexibility, that’s okay.
There’s another important point to remember: The most difficult poses you may have encountered are for only advanced levels of yoga. If you’re willing to set aside the flexibility myth, you’ll find that most yoga studios and gyms offer beginner classes. If you’re a guy who still clings to the belief that you are less flexible, there are a number of yoga classes that cater to men.