“I am too flexible to do yoga”. I must admit, this comment threw me. I was used to hearing “I am too inflexible to do yoga”, and the answer to that just rolls off the tongue, “The practice of yoga makes one more flexible, one does not have to start by being flexible.” I remember that I had stared at the commenter openmouthed, my mind in a whirl at the unexpected point of view. She is very flexible, and can contort her body into many different positions, and hence believed that doing yoga would not benefit her, as she would not get “more” flexible.
I have often thought about her comment since I heard it, and I can see where she is coming from. I have often noticed a tendency in (some) teachers, (many) students and practitioners to try and push past boundaries and set up a challenge to go beyond current capabilities. I believe there is really no need to “push”, but let us not digress in that direction.
There seems to be a commonly held belief that if one can do a pose/asana without straining, one cannot be getting any benefit from it. If it is not a challenge, then one needs to find a variation that is. This probably stems from the belief of “no pain, no gain” that seems to resonate with everyone. Even I, though I know that even doing a few simple asanas every day, with discipline and accuracy is good enough, tend to book myself into classes that I find “more challenging” because I want to “progress” on my yoga journey.
One does not practice asanas, in order just to become more flexible, or stronger, or even just to improve general or specific health issues, though they are all great results as well. The scientifically measurable health benefits are only part of the story, after all. The experiential results are personal, often indefinable, and always multifaceted. Whether one just automatically does the posture perfectly or trains for a long time to get there, the health benefits derive from the posture itself not the difficulty of attaining it. Neither is it necessary to have to push oneself in anyway in order to derive the benefits of an asana. Very simple postures, like Tadasana, which are relatively easy to “master”, have numerous health benefits, just the same as the harder ( for some) to master: postures like Suptavirasana or Grabhasana. The mental benefits, which are less measurable scientifically are where the story begins to expand, and once what I like to think of as the benefits of the soul, kick in, are when the extended yogi life begins.
One begins to experience the results at the physical level almost immediately one starts learning yoga asanas. (Disclaimer: an once a week practice will take a long time to show persistent or consistent results. A very long time.)Through discipline, dedication and regularity, multiple rewards show up, wherever your body is on the flexibility, or strength scale. So, one is always in a good state to start, or continue yoga.