A Short Soapbox: You Can (and Should!) Do Yoga

I’m going to take a break from chakras this week to address something that I have heard from lots of people in various contexts:

“Yoga just isn’t for me.”

I’m not saying that everyone has to try yoga or love doing it, but I AM saying that it is, in fact, for you. Unless a doctor has specifically told you that you should not do it, there is yoga that you can benefit from.

Cat says less excuse, more yoga.

You don’t have to be young, flexible, athletic, vegan, religious, rich or -insert whatever preconception you have about someone who does yoga here-. All you need is a willingness to learn and an open mind.

Let me say it one more time: Yoga is for everybody.

I will absolutely admit that there are plenty of yoga studios, YouTube channels and video series that feature New Age, “crunchy” people, and this can be really off-putting. However, there are just as many reasonable and approachable teachers out there, so if you’ve had a bad or weird experience, I encourage you to try again!

Yoga is a particularly great form of exercise because it’s so customizable and has such a broad reach. You can make it as relaxing or intense as you want it to be, and you don’t have to invest in studio memberships or expensive equipment unless you want to.

I believe that everyone can derive physical, mental and sometimes spiritual or emotional benefit from incorporating yoga into their lives.

It’s about more than just movement and physical exercise, however. It also teaches you about how your breathing patterns can affect your well-being, and it can help you to develop a better relationship with your body. That might sound a little silly, but stick with me.

If you’re at all like me, you tend to only focus on what you can’t do or what’s wrong (e.g. – I don’t think to drink enough water until I’m thirsty and feel like crap, which means I’m already pretty dehydrated, or I get mad at myself for being tired after lifting 20 lb. weights because I “should” be able to do more.).

When your focus is just on the idea of practicing a set of movements and doing them to the best of your ability on that day, it frees you of the expectations that you’re more likely to put on yourself if you’re running on a treadmill or doing squats. (I like doing squats, and you should totally do those other things too if you want, I’m just not talking about them right now!)

But I’m not good at yoga!

Spoiler alert: neither am I.

I had a teacher once that told me it was called a yoga practice for a reason, and that the goal wasn’t to be “good” at it. She said that you should obviously do your best to improve and adjust, but that you should let go of the notion of “getting good.”

If I’m not supposed to be The Best™ then WHAT IS THE POINT?!

It sounds cheesy, but it was helpful advice. Once I stopped worrying about whether I was as good as the other people or the teacher, I was able to focus better and found that things became much easier.

I still lose my balance (often), and there are still plenty of poses that I can’t do very gracefully, but I’m okay with it. It’s about the process more than the end result.

I’m not flexible or athletic enough!

I was a dancer for a long time, so I am fairly flexible. I am not athletic though, and likely will never be. I also have short arms and thick legs, which make a lot of poses more challenging than they might otherwise be.

However. Even if you are uncoordinated, stiff and totally not athletic, you can do yoga.

Most people don’t realize that just about every pose can be heavily modified to suit their needs. Yoga shouldn’t hurt. If you’re in pain when you try a pose, that is usually a sign that you need to modify it!

You don’t have to contort like a cat to do yoga.

Tools like straps, blocks, blankets, bolster pillows and chairs are all intended to provide support so that you can do a pose in a way that helps your body. I’ve seen very large people, very frail, elderly people and people who are recovering from injury do yoga well with the help of tools and modifications.

Don’t be afraid to Google pose modifications if you’re at home or ask an instructor if you’re in a class. Most instructors are happy to demonstrate and help you figure out how to make things work better for you.

In future posts, I’ll actually be covering several of the main poses you’ll find in a beginner class and discussing ways to modify them for various issues.

Yoga is too fussy and girly for me.

Okay, fair enough. Yoga might feel too “girly” for some people, but I’ll argue that it doesn’t have to be this way.

There are yoga classes and videos specifically for athletes, and there are also programs like Les Mills’ BodyFlow and the super fun, intense and unconventional DDP Yoga that bring more of a grounded, workout-esque feel to yoga.

Dude, even pro wrestlers and high-level athletes do yoga.

I love both of these programs, and if you feel like yoga is a little too fussy for you, I encourage you to give one or both of them a try.

Tell Me Your Thoughts!

I’ve only covered a few of the most common things that I’ve heard people say (or even said myself!) about yoga.

I believe that it’s something that just about anyone can derive benefit from, but do you agree? Tell me why you do or don’t love yoga! What are your reasons for loving or leaving it?

Tell us, precioussssss.

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