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Am I flexible enough to do Yoga?

Whoever said that in order to take up a yoga practice you have to be flexible?

I have spoken to numerous people who have said, “How can I do Yoga, I can’t even touch my toes?!”

I patiently explain how their logic makes no sense. Surely, the aim of taking up Yoga is to enhance and develop your mobility and flexibility? I know for sure that it’ll be a challenge to see any improvement if you take little or no action at all!

Yogarei believes that the practice of Yoga can be as slow or as fast as you want it to be depending on your current body conditioning, mental state and your personality type. You can have a slow Hatha practice to really work on opening up the different muscle groups in the body, or a Mindful, meditative practice to develop your awareness, patience and focus or you can have an active Vinyasa practice. Generally, we think a combination of a slow, deliberate practice initially (especially for beginners) is a good way to start becoming aware of your Self and to start by grounding down to build your strength upwards. Eventually, you can develop your practice and complement it with Vinyasa classes.

So perhaps it’s challenging to touch your toes at the moment. So what? Fold forward and rest your palms on your thighs and avoid focusing on the student in front of you who can touch his toes. Push your weight down to the Earth and breathe to open up your hamstrings. Focus on your breath and your practice and eventually you’ll feel yourself exhaling further down your legs to your shins. Take your time and be persistent in your practice. Dedicate an hour or two a week for yourself. And Yoga is a great way to do that as it will start to balance out the speed at which we live day-to-day.

Practice patience with yourself. Love yourself. Be compassionate with yourself. 

An expectation of Yoga teachers... BUT IT'S OKAY

There seems to be this expectation floating around that if you're a yoga teacher or a practising Yogi/Yogini then you 'must' be really calm or you 'must' be really flexible. My question is, why? Why should I be really calm and why must you expect that I'm really flexible? 

I, just like you are on a constantly evolving journey of the Self and the world. So I will have days when I'm flustered or frustrated and everything in the world seems to be pushing against me. I may have days where I struggle in a balance pose or just can't get my nose to meet my knee and I know I can do this!  

I try to avoid or limit the expectations I have of others in life, but I definitely have expectations of myself. I sometimes need to remind myself to let go of these and without defaulting to complacency just accept the present moment. Let is be as it is right now. Maybe my energy is low, or maybe it's my hormones, maybe my body is telling me to take it easy. It's easy to let the outside world force you to be a particular way ALL THE TIME due to their expectation of you as a yoga teacher or an active Yogi/Yogini. These are the times when you need to remember that it's your journey. That you're human with vices and flaws and are constantly evolving. As long as you are mindful and practice non-harming to others and therefore yourself it's quite frankly, none of their business if you can't do the crow pose or the splits or if you're have a rant day. 

It's okay if we we're still working on the life plan, the career plan, the family plan. It's okay to set free the expectation we have of ourselves and have a day off constantly striving to live a balanced life. Try and tip the balance and give yourself a 'you' day. Lounge around or get dressed and meet friends for cocktails or have an extravagant meal (that yes may not be that healthy!). It's okay. Be compassionate... we're only human. 

Here at Yogarei we understand we all have good and bad days, emotional and energetic blocks. There's signal failure on your tube line or you may have missed the bus on your way to work, rushing in all flustered, ranting and raving... and that's okay. Take a deep breath, pay attention to yourself and let it go.

Can we really always be cool, calm and collected? Or should we just try and be ourselves or the best version of ourselves that is possible at the time? Be as flexible as is available to you in your practice and be a calm or ranty as you want. Be mindful, accepting and compassionate to yourself and others when they are going through this and try to avoid judging yourself because you 'should' be like this or that. Just be.

You have to grow from the inside out. None can teach you, none can make you spiritual. There is no other teacher but your own soul.

Swami Vivekananda