“I’m not flexible. I can’t touch my toes. I’m not suitable for yoga.”
With yoga expect to touch your toes – often in the very first class. Give your body some loving care by lubricating and activating core muscles, hips, and hamstrings. Yoga awakens the body to its optimal capacity.
My first yoga teacher Kaila Kukla drew inspiration from Erich Shiffman, an early Western student of yoga. Shiffman writes “People often ask me how I became interested in yoga and whether or not I was flexible when I first started. Yoga is not merely touching your toes, standing on your head, or folding yourself into a pretzel. It’s about how you do what you do, and how you live your daily life on a moment-to-moment basis.”
Yoga is not merely touching your toes, or standing on your head, or folding yourself into a pretzel.
I played hockey for the first time in ten years and felt pain all over my body. At age twenty-five I felt like an old man. Someone suggested an Epsom salt bath and a massage. I also took a yoga class. It was all new to me then. I didn’t know about different kinds of yoga. My body felt like it had been hit by a truck after a simple night of hockey. I was twenty-five and starting to feel old.
When I started yoga it felt amazing. I had no idea what I was doing but I didn’t know that back then. A few years into it a teacher approached me with a horrified look. She said that if I kept doing downward dog the way I was doing it I would injure myself. I had been going sporadically to yoga for a few years and considered myself somewhere beyond a beginner. I assumed that after a few years I must have been pretty good. I felt refreshed after classes and it felt like work. I later realized there is no natural progression in yoga unless there is natural progression. As my teacher Darby says, “Right practice makes towards progress.” Doing yoga right is not intuitive or natural and does not come just by practice alone. It takes a good teacher.
Ganesh Mohan dropped by Fireflow. His father was a student of Krishnamachrya, one of the single most important teachers responsible for bringing yoga to the west. We spoke about how yoga works to brings one more into the body in a way which makes the body more balanced. It is not about extreme flexibility although flexibility will be a result of regular practice.