Anyone can do yoga; that does not mean anyone should stand on their head or master purna vrishchikasana and touch their feet to their head. I mean anyone can practice yoga in the sense that you can increase your body awareness and increase your ability to move with purpose. I have heard many excuses for why people haven’t wanted to take yoga.
Here are a few reasons you may have come across:
I’m not that flexible (super common one that many yoga teachers hear. FYI you don’t need to be flexible to get the benefits of yoga)
I can’t sit for that long and/or it seems really boring
I’m out of shape
I have an injury
I wanted to share my experience in first delving into the yoga world, which was a game changer and happened a few years before I went through teacher training. It happened in 2010 after I injured my back while biking in a half pipe, which resulted in a bulging L5-S1 and rabdomyolysis in my right hamstring. In my typical fashion, I thought “no big deal. I’m fine,” but in reality, this was a very serious and debilitating injury. I was in constant pain and couldn’t not sit, stand, lay down or anything. Even putting on pants took way more effort than it should have. After my incident in the halfpipe, I thought the pain would just go away, but it became evident that I needed medical attention, so after 24 hours I went to the hospital. After an MRI, my doctor recommended physical therapy, and she gave me a prescription for strong painkillers that I never filled or used, thanks to my parent’s guidance.
I lived in a lousy studio apartment across the street from a “Hot Yoga” studio. It was something I noticed for 2 months every time I entered and exited the building. Every day I would see it and think to myself that I’ve got to try it sometime, since it was such a convenient place to go and learn something new that I knew nothing about. None of my friends talked about practicing yoga, and I did not see many advertisements for it. But when it’s right in your face, like literally a sign saying “YOGA,” it is hard to ignore. Finally, the day came, and it was a spontaneous decision to go take a class. The circumstances were less than ideal, and I probably should not be sharing this information, but I’m going to anyways in order to explain to you why anyone CAN do yoga.
It was Saturday morning and like most college students that have recently discovered alcohol, I was painfully hungover.
I had the flu and therefore was feeling under the weather, but not bed ridden.
I had a recently broken back.
I walked into this hot yoga class with a coffee and no water.
Moment of silence for my idiot self...
The funny thing is, that even though it was difficult to try all the new poses, I felt great after class. I recovered fine, hydrating myself and resting from the flu. My range of motion was extremely limited in class, but after practicing 4 times a week for a month, it began to get better. I’ll never forget when folding forward, I finally could touch my knees. Yes. My knees. Not my toes… my knees. That’s how bad of shape I was in, not just “out of shape” but my body was physically broken after my injury.
For the record, I would never tell someone that they should practice yoga while dealing with such a
serious injury. That is definitely up to individual discretion and should be approved by a doctor. I just think it should not be ruled out. What I’m trying to get at is it is possible to practice yoga, no matter what condition you are going through. So if you have any interest in trying yoga, go for it and do not hold yourself back with any excuses. Although, please do bring water to your class, and talk to your yoga teacher about why you have come to class. Or ask a qualified teacher, someone you trust or me about getting started.
Here are some great sources I’ve come across while researching who has been benefiting from yoga. The third one is my favorite because I blame yoga for why I am rarely sore from running, and why I recover very quickly:
Veterans and people suffering from PTSD and neurological trauma