Lessons from the mat, blog – Katlin Tilly
Debunking the Biggest Myths of the 21st Century
Number 4 – You have to be flexible to do yoga!
If you walked down the street today and took a survey of who does yoga and then why or why not, I am confident the majority of answers would be “no, because I am not flexible enough”. Where did this belief come from? Why has society become so convinced that to do yoga we must be flexible?
As a yoga teacher trainer, I am still fairly early in on my yoga journey. And it wasn’t that long ago that I could have been that stranger on the street saying no I can’t do yoga because I can’t touch my toes. So as part of my path to becoming a yoga teacher has been the realisation that I want to help introduce more people to the wonderful world of yoga. Make it more accessible, less intimidating and break some of the stigma surrounding it. Yoga can be such a rewarding practice for both yourself and others around you. I think it is only right that more people have the opportunity to experience it and see if it is actually right for them. Regardless if they can touch their toes or not!
Last week I found myself sitting on the beach looking out at the waves admiring all of the surfers. I then looked around to see people taking their dogs for walks, reading a book, building sandcastles and just swimming through the waves.
At that moment I realised, practising yoga is just like going to the beach…If you cannot surf you do not automatically assume you cannot go to the beach, right? Of course not!
There are so many amazing reasons to go visit the beach. Yes, surfing might be a cool skill to work up to but it is not the be-all and end-all of visiting the beach. You can treat surfing as some of the more advanced yoga poses or asana. People find their own reasons to visit the beach, so find your own focus for yoga. Perhaps it is to find mindfulness, build strength or simply have an hour to yourself each day. Although you might continue to do different poses while you practice yoga, it is not all yoga is made up of.
So if yoga isn’t just about putting yourself into weird poses, what is it then? Yoga has existed for thousands of years so there are many different interpretations and I encourage you to do your own reading and form your own definition. But here is some insight into the knowledge I have collected. The word Yoga (meaning to yoke) is connected to the word “Awareness”. Through awareness, we can connect the mind, body and soul to make us more present.
The poses are used to allow body and breath to guide us to an increased awareness of ourselves. Therefore it does not matter what poses you are doing or how you look in those poses. The focus should be to bring mindfulness to each movement.
So what if your reasoning for doing yoga is for increased flexibility or strength? Well, excellent! Moving through the yoga flow will help you with this. However keep in mind that every person’s body is unique in its make-up, proportions, past experience and potential injury. For this reason, it is always best to try not to compare yourself to others when practising. It is about you and your journey.
I strongly believe yoga can be a powerful healer for anyone. It is such a diverse practice with many different interpretations. So the next time you think of yoga try to think beyond the ‘perfectly’ toned person wearing lulu lemon with their body in knots. Give it a go, and spoiler alert, you might even find a bit more inner peace from your practice!
Congratulations Katlin on completing your Yoga NRG Level 1 / 200hr Teacher Training
Thanks for sharing your journey with us