Maybe You’re Flexible Enough?

This sounds so TRUE to me, what do you think?

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard people say something along the lines of, “Oh, I can’t do yoga – I’m not flexible enough,” when they hear I’m a yoga teacher. I can see why many people think that “practicing yoga” is only achieved when you accomplish a pose that might be featured on the cover of a yoga magazine. The models tend to be very thin and very flexible people twisting into impossible-looking shapes. I had a student in one of my classes who was hypermobile, and I often caught my other students asking her how she got so good at yoga—there’s just a sense that more flexible is better when it comes to yoga. 

Unfortunately, hypermobility is a real problem that can lead to joint instability, chronic pain, and sometimes even costly and painful joint repairs. See Baxter’s post Are You Overly Flexibile? Hyperflexibility, Joint Hypermobility Syndrome and Generalized Joint Hypermobility for more information about all of these conditions. He includes a section on yoga recommendations for people who are overly flexible, including increasing strength, avoiding excessive joint movement, improving proprioception, and cultivating equanimity. I particularly like the last two suggestions, because often we move too deeply into a pose simply because we don’t have a sense of where our limits are, so improving our proprioception gives us a better sense of where we are in space so we can figure out those limits. As for cultivating equanimity, the yoga practice, or a particular pose, may provide a sensation that is different from the stress we’ve been crushed under all day, to the point where we don’t actually notice that it’s hurting us. Finding a balance in life can help us to find a balance in our yoga practice.  

With these tools in place, we can approach a yoga practice from a more balanced perspective. Instead of forcing the yoga upon our bodies, trying to achieve an outward image of perfection in a pose, we can focus instead on how the yoga feels, and more importantly, how we feel in the world as a result of our yoga practice. I do like to repeat a quote from Alan Finger that says: “Don’t practice yoga to get better at yoga; practice yoga to get better at living.”

By Bridget From Yoga for healthy aging blog.