We’ve all seen photos of super-bendy folks contorting their body into the shape of a pretzel. Pretty intimidating if you can’t touch your toes or have trouble turning your head to the right.
What is yoga?
Yoga originated as a practice to prepare the body for meditation. In Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra, yoga is defined as the quieting of the mind. Yoga practice is composed of many things. Breathwork, meditation, chanting. Your flexibility will not limit your practice of these aspects of yoga.
But mostly we associate yoga with the physical (asana) practice. When we’re talking about how flexible you need to be to start yoga, we mean asana.
The Physical Practice of Yoga or Asana
Let’s be honest.
When I say “yoga,” you picture this:
Am I right?
How am I supposed to walk into a yoga class when the folks are doing THAT and I can’t even touch my toes?!
Some folks are naturally flexible and super twisty poses come naturally for them. But some of us can’t touch our toes. And that’s okay.
I’ve been practicing yoga for years, and a lot of the time, I can’t touch my toes in a forward fold. And that’s okay. Yoga’s not about twisting your body into the perfect pose. Yoga is breathing better, calming the mind, and yes, increasing your flexibility. Even if that means just coming a millimeter closer to touching your toes.
How flexible do I have to be before I can start yoga?
Not. at. all.
You can start breathwork to deepen your breathing at any time.
You can start meditation to calm your mind at any time.
And yes, you can start the physical practice of yoga at any time, even if you can’t come close to touching your toes. Maybe you will be able to one day. Or not. Either way is perfectly okay.