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Too stiff for yoga? Definitely not

Updated: Jun 26, 2023

My yoga teacher once told me “saying you’re too stiff for yoga is like saying you’re too dirty for a bath.”

Flipping the idea that yoga is only for super bendy people on its head (see what I’ve done there?) can be quite a challenge. Yoga can help improve flexibility and build strength whatever your starting point - but if you’re finding it tricky to sit cross-legged while the rest of the class is racing through poses it can feel miserable.

Before you decide yoga’s not for you, here are 3 questions to ask yourself that could help you feel happier about giving it a try.

1. What do I want to achieve?

Knowing why you’re practising yoga and what you want to get out of it can make a huge difference. Try to think beyond becoming stronger or more flexible. How will your life improve if you practise once or twice a week? Perhaps you’ll have more stamina to do the things you love, or it’ll help you to relax at the end of a long day?

2. How will I know it’s making an impact?

Talk to your yoga teacher about measuring the difference your practice is making and a realistic timescale to work towards. If you’d like to increase flexibility, think about everyday things you’d like to be able to do as a result of your yoga practice. I’ve worked with someone who wanted to put on their socks more easily. Having milestones like this to work towards can be really useful and goes beyond the shape you’re making on the mat.

3. What type of class will help me get there?

The joy is there is a class out there for everyone, but the choice can be overwhelming and the different types of yoga baffling. Once you know what you want to get from your yoga practice it’s much easier to choose the right kind of class.

If you’re thinking that you’re too stiff for yoga (which you’re not by the way!), try looking for a teacher who uses props like chairs, belts, blocks and bolsters to make sure you’re in the right pose and reduce the risk of injury. And hold off on classes like vinyasa where you move through poses quickly, these won’t give you the precision and alignment you need to increase your flexibility safely.

And remember… yoga is not a competition

Focus on yourself and your own journey. The person with their leg around their head has a different story to you, and may have been practising for years. You have your own unique reasons for being on the mat, if you’re clear about those it’s much easier to stop comparing and enjoy what your body is doing.

We all deserve to live a great life, but what great looks like changes over time and sometimes we find ourselves stuck living in a way that isn’t right for us anymore. I support women to live a happier life: through prioritising their wellbeing, doing more of what they love, and focusing on what really matters to them.

I offer yoga and coaching together, and separately. What would be a good fit for you?

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