Updated: Oct 8, 2020
by Indira Das-Gupta
If I had a pound for every time someone has asked me if they are too stiff for Yoga I’d probably be driving a Porsche rather than a second hand Ford. You can never be too stiff for Yoga! It’s kind of like asking if you are too dirty to shower! In fact it’s a total myth that Yoga is only for super bendy people (although even just a cursory scroll through social media could lead you to believe otherwise - but that’s for the next blog!). You might find it easier to make pretty shapes if you are naturally flexible, or even hyper mobile, but that is not what Yoga is all about.
In fact being stiff could be seen as an advantage as you are much less likely to go beyond your healthy range of movement and injure yourself. Someone who is hyper mobile can easily get into poses without having the strength to support and stabilise their muscles. So you could say round one to the stiff would-be Yogis!
Another advantage of being stiff is that you will notice the benefits from your Yoga practice pretty quickly. If sitting down on the floor is really challenging or you experience lower back pain then even some gentle Yoga just a few times week can really help in a relatively short space of time. Every journey has to begin with a single step. You might not be able to do a handstand or the splits but who cares if you feel better and your quality of life has improved?
I have a little secret:
I’m not naturally bendy and I can’t do the splits either. Nor do I have any desire to do the splits. My body just isn’t built for it and I’m cool with that. But Yoga has made me so much stronger, not just physically, but mentally. Basically, Yoga makes me feel better and when we feel better we do better
The reality is that most of us don’t have bodies like your average dancer/circus contortionist/gymnast - take your pick. Part of this is to do with the anatomy we are born with, our mainly sedentary lifestyles can also cause a whole host of issues. But the point is that Yoga can increase your strength and range of movement. It can also help in so many other ways - by giving you the tools to deal with stress better, improving the way you breathe and simply by teaching you to be more aware of your body and how you move it.
If you think you are “stiff”, maybe you even feel a bit embarrassed about your degree of stiffness - don’t let that put you off coming to a Yoga class. Don’t be embarrassed! It’s nothing to be ashamed of. You won’t be alone and with persistence and patience you will soon start to increase your range of movement and feel much better. One of the many wonderful things I love about Yoga is that it’s not competitive - at least it shouldn’t be! Who cares if the person next to you can touch their toes and you can’t. It might actually be easier for them - it certainly doesn’t mean they are “better”at Yoga. And as a Yogi, who is far wiser than me, once said: “Yoga is not about touching your toes but about what you discover on the way down there.”
If my blog resonates with you or got you thinking then please follow me @indiranorthlondonyoga on Instagram