One of the most common statements I hear as a yoga instructor is, “I am not flexible and my physical balance isn’t very good.” Two objections to this statement — You do not have to be flexible or have great balance to partake in yoga and the word “CAN’T,” should be removed from your vocabulary. Yoga is not about flexibility or having perfect balance. It is about showing up on your mat. Breathing. Doing your best with your breath and setting clear intentions.
It isn’t really all that germane whether or not you can touch your toes or stand on one foot. In fact having to be flexible to engage in yoga is a myth. Yoga is so much more than a physical practice. You can be or become mentally, emotionally and spiritually flexible and more balanced. This is paramount in enhancing your personal growth and yoga practice. Going with the flow of life can be adventurous. This of course is if you are willing. How would you identify yourself? Do you find it hard to laugh at things that challenge your opinions or routine? Do people in your life describe you as inflexible or unbalanced? Or, perhaps you are open-minded, flexible and have the ability to be light-hearted and silly.
Our own flexibility, mental and spiritual balance can be a teaching moment to others such as our family, children, friends and our co-workers.
Consider the next time something new is proposed to your emotional flexibility? This is the perfect time to be honest with your self. When a different plan, idea or concept is brought to your attention are you reactive or open? If you go with the proposed plan are you angry and resentful? Do you find yourself desiring to cling to the original plan? Do you feel stressed or aggravated? Possibly you have never pondered these questions.
Recognize next time you are approached with a new idea or concept – can you be flexible in your thinking? Think of coloring outside the lines. Doing something that renders you uncomfortable (of course with out being dangerous). This will likely be an adventure because it is something different. You will recognize that you will bring greater awareness to accepting change with out judgment of self.
Consider waking up earlier to begin your day with a short yoga practice. Moving through a few yoga postures can be exactly what you need to gain a jumpstart to your day.
Simply follow these steps towards cultivating openness and emotional flexibility and balance:
1. Try something new every day ~ Take a different route to work or try a new food.
2. Slow Down ~ Take a few moments to catch your breath. Be fully present!
3. Listen ~ Most of us do not listen. If you are good listener you can be emotionally available.
4. Meditate ~ Try doing this before you leave the house. Visualize your day.
5. Think before you speak ~ Pause and be sure you understand what the person is conveying to you. Hence, think of your response before you react.
6. Gravitate to your yoga mat ~ Just get on your yoga mat!!!
Conquer the myth that you have to be flexible physically to begin a yoga practice. This is generally the number one reason people do not show up to practice. Once you cultivate a regular practice you will gain greater flexibility/balance physically and mentally.
Bronwyn Ison is the owner of Evolve Yoga and bronwynison.com