There are four words that are by far the most frequently-heard ones when it comes to bringing up yoga in conversation with a person outside of any yoga studio. Guess what they are. Guess-- really! Go for it. Those special words are: “I’m not flexible enough”. How many times have you heard that? Be honest. :) What’s interesting about this statement is that the speaker of those words typically has the very best of intentions-- they’re trying to connect about the subject, or to be humble (or to very kindly share that they are not interested in trying yoga out). Whatever the reason, the interesting thing that remains, to me, is that yoga is about so much more than physical flexibility.
While our physique can and does change throughout the course of our lives, mental flexibility does, too. Emotionally, we are creatures in a life that is destined to change, destined for obstacles in the pathway of projects and relationships; in our natural state, humans are in a constant state of becoming attached then unattached and attached again to people/places/situations/emotions. So while we may know that when changes happen there are always going to be new challenges to face, and that this is just a part of being a human and being on this life’s journey, we may still have difficulty with change. Why is that?
I once heard that if you really, truly feel like you’re an enlightened being, go and spend a week with your family. The thought here is that no matter how much you may feel like you’ve evolved, no matter how much you may feel you’ve grown into someone who has a better handle on emotion or change, you may still encounter difficulties. Even if you’ve become more flexible (mentally, physically, emotionally), there may still be moments or even periods of time that you struggle, and patterns take over.
What I’m here to say is that this is okay. You are okay. Your ability to be flexible, or not, to be okay with change, or not, is okay. You are on your journey, one that is unique to you. Another quote that I love is from Audrey Hepburn, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle.” You really never know what someone else may be going through.
Flexibility, to me, is about learning to be okay with where you are at in your process. Whether you’re able to fully straighten a leg in a pose, or not (see the above photo), no matter whether you could have done it an hour or a week prior, it doesn’t matter. Flow with it. Smile in it. Laugh with it, laugh at it.
The thing is, our bodies are different every single day. I say that to students all the time in class, it’s almost like a mantra I recite to myself and that’s why I find it so helpful when guiding a yoga class. What I really like about the picture taken here by Steve Dianetti that accompanies this blog post is the rawness, truth, and honesty of it. Although I have been practicing yoga for over a decade, it some days feels like my legs are never quite strong or flexible “enough” for some poses. This can even change moment to moment, or day to day!
It’s not easy to stand up (on your hands, or otherwise) and say “yes”, fully accepting what you are seeing, feeling, and expressing. It is on yet another level to be open to the possibility that things are always in flux, and it’s how you respond to that flexibility (mental/physical/emotional) or lack thereof that really makes us who we are. You are free to be. I hope to see you on the mat one of these days, show me and share with me where you are in your journey. I can’t wait to hear it.