Most of us go to a yoga class (or practice at home) because we want to make a positive change in our lives. However, there are a number of very pervasive and extremely toxic myths about yoga that can really impact your experience of it.
This is one in a series of posts covering the most toxic myths, and how they might impact you. If you notice any of these cropping up – on or off the mat – consciously notice the thought process, and give yourself permission to release them from your experience of yoga!
Toxic Myth #1 – You have to be flexible to do yoga
Oh, me oh my, this one is H.U.G.E. If I had a dollar for every time someone said to me “I can’t do yoga, I’m not flexible”- trust me, I would be a very rich lady!
Yet people say this to me. All. The. Time.
And it drives me a little crazy. Not least because if you are a little inflexible, then doing something like yoga is (obviously, duh!) going to help you in that department.
But the main reason it bothers me? Is because it underlies the assumption that yoga is all about being flexible.
If you’re a regular student of mine, you already know that I myself am not flexible. Yet, somehow, I am a yoga teacher… Hmm, how’s that?!
It’s because yoga isn’t really anything to do with being flexible. Moving the body and doing the poses (asana) is one small part of yoga. The much larger part of yoga is about breathing, mindfulness, kindness and compassion.
And the tiny part that is about the body – it really, honestly, truly, does not matter one little jot whether or not you are flexible. It’s the actual moving itself that matters, the intention behind it, the fact you showed up for yourself and had enough compassion for yourself to take a few minutes out of your busy day.
Why is this so toxic?
Because this myth prevents so many people from trying yoga. It stops thousands, probably millions, of people from learning how to love themselves a little more, how to breathe their way through stressful situations, how to heal themselves.
And this makes me sad, especially given the slightly (extremely) bonkers state of our world these days. Imagine how different things could be if some of those slightly (extremely) bonkers people did yoga, rather than running around being bonkers…
So… next time you’re on the mat and you notice your inner critic commenting on your flexibility (or lack thereof !) give yourself a break and remember that yoga is absolutely nothing to do with flexibility at all. Remember: I am a yoga teacher and I am not flexible!
Oh, and next time you’re talking to a friend who says “Oh, I could never do yoga, I am not flexible enough” – give them the gift of explaining why this is actually a MYTH! You never know, it might be the one thing that changes their mind…