So many people get frustrated about their flexibility as they start doing yoga. I always take a moment to talk with them about this. Flexibility is not the end all, be all of yoga. In the grand scheme of things, yoga is much more a philosophical practice than anything else. But even in terms of a physical practice, flexibility comes in third behind stability and mobility.
That trifecta of Stability, Mobility and Flexibility plays out again and again in class. We need the strength to hold ourselves in a pose. Then we move from one asana to another. Finally, we can explore the stretch and openness that comes from increased flexibility.
What flexibility does provide, though, is access. It’s not an end in and of itself. The more freely we can move, the more parts of our practice we can explore. Simply put, by increasing your flexibility over time, you’re able to do more things.
And this is where the physical yoga becomes a more philosophical one. If you think of flexibility as a state of mind in addition to a state of being, you start to see the potential. It allows you to consider multiple solutions to any given problem. You’re not locked into a ‘stiff’ state of mind. You become flexible in your approach to things. And again, I’ve seen this play out again and again in my own life as well as with my students. When we start to open up to new possibilities, we become willing to try new things.
So, yes, it can be frustrating to go into your first few yoga classes and feel like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. Of course. But that’s a phase and, more importantly, it’s a state of mind.
Flexibility gives you access to so many things, way beyond the poses you do on your mat.