A friend of mine recently expressed an interest in getting started in yoga. She’d never tried it before, but she said she’d always wanted to.
“Great,” I told her. “You’ll love it!”
“I just need to lose some of this weight first,” she answered, telling me that she couldn’t possibly do yoga until she’d dropped thirty pounds.
Wait… what? Barring any medical restrictions (and even then, there are modifications for almost everything), being overweight is never a reason not to do yoga. In fact, it’s just pretty much just the opposite: yoga will make you more in touch with your body, more comfortable with your body, and help you lose the weight that you need to lose. And if this guy can do it, anyone can.
“Okay,” she conceded. “But I feel like I’m so old…”
Tao Porchon-Lynch is still teaching yoga at 93 years old. There’s no such thing as being “too old” for yoga.
“I’m not flexible either,” she persisted. “At all.”
Can I talk about flexibility for a minute? A lot of people think that you need to be flexible to do yoga, and/or that people who are already flexible are going to naturally be better at it. I used to think the same thing. And while it’s true that yoga will help you become more flexible if that’s something you’re desiring, flexibility in and of itself means nothing.
I’m a naturally limber person. I’m also a naturally clumsy person. I have a hard time telling right from left. I don’t always know where my body is in space. Sometimes I find that being flexible actually hinders more than helps when I’m learning new poses… my arms and legs tend to lose the integrity of the pose and just start doing their own crazy wayward things. I have to consciously focus more on awareness, remind my body to listen to my brain, and bring everything back to where it’s supposed to be.
When I was at my training retreat in July, I was somewhat of a mess. I was injured, discouraged, hadn’t done any yoga (or really, any physical exercise at all) for an entire month, and I was ten pounds out of my personal comfort zone. I was out-of-balance, out of touch with my own body, and just generally disconnected. So I know that feeling of, “I can’t do this!” I do.
But here’s the thing: Yoga forgives all of that. It takes an overweight, out of shape, inflexible, too flexible, old, young, ailing body and meets it right where it’s at. It makes it stronger. It makes it healthier. It makes it more coordinated. It makes it more in tune with both mind and soul. It makes it beautiful, from the inside out.
Even for a naturally limber and naturally clumsy person like me.