As a yoga practitioner and teacher I’ve heard a gamut of reasons (both from myself and my students) regarding why they don’t practice yoga or even try it for that matter. Most often a reason is connected to an experience, whether they remember it or not. While I want to honor where reasons come from, I don’t want you or anyone else I love to continue to believe blanket statements without a little inquiry. But I’m jumping the gun. First, let’s delve into what some of the “reasons” are that people don’t do yoga. Then, we’ll get into the juicy stuff.
1. I’m too stiff & tight.
2. I’m not a pretzel.
3. I’m too fat.
4. I’m too injured.
5. It goes against my religious beliefs.
6. I’m a guy, a dude. Guys don’t do yoga.
7. I can’t handle all those chicks in tight clothes.
8. I’m too busy.
9. I’m too old.
10. I’m too weak.
So, what do you think? Can you relate with any of these? I know I can. So, if a reason is connected to an experience and that experience may or may not have anything to do with the present moment, what’s a girl (or guy for that matter) to do? Time to use the art of inner tracking, that’s what! A reason turns to an excuse if you haven’t gone through this kind of process with yourself. Ask these few key questions. Remember, this applies to anything in life, not just yoga.
1. What is holding me back from saying yes to this experience fully?
2. What am I afraid of?
3. What could I gain from this experience?
The answers you give to these questions will begin to illuminate what is behind your reason/excuse. And for those of you that already have inner tracking down to an art and science, it is often action that is required instead of inquiry. As much as Nike is a controversial company I like their slogan, Just Do It!
Now, going back to the above list, I want to tackle the first two beliefs (stiffness, tightness, lack of pretzel) because they are unbelievably common and definitely erroneous, at least in my yoga classes. Here are my thoughts:
You don’t have to be flexible to do yoga! Hark the herald angels sing! Yoga is just another word for awareness. So, if you are muscularly tight, yoga can help to open you up. If you’re already flexible, yoga can teach you how to use your muscles and not hang out in your joints. When I started doing yoga I was a joint hanger. I didn’t realize what a disservice I was doing to my poor joints. When my teachers began to show me how to turn on the musculature around my joints, yoga suddenly became a much better workout!
See, there are two types of people out there. People who have dense connective tissue and those who have more fluid tissue. Those of you who have trouble touching your toes pretty much all day, are dense connective tissue people. You need lots of heat in your body to get a good stretch. The heat penetrates the cells and liquifies the tissue, literally making it easier for you to stretch. In an hour and a half Forrest yoga class you are going to get warm, you are going to get happy, and you may surprise yourself at how pretzelly you can become!
Just to be clear, I’m not dogging on concerns here. Concerns are valid. For instance, if you are indeed overweight and have health concerns, you do need to be careful. You need to choose the right kind and level of class to attend. You might want to check with your doctor and get a general health exam.
And if you’re a dude, let me say this. Real Men do Yoga. Eddie George, Barry Zito, and Kevin Garnett all practice yoga. It makes them better athletes and helps them get in the zone faster. If you’re concerned about what’s going to happen to you in a yoga class full of women wearing skin tight pants and shirts that show cleavage, maybe you might want to consider doing a men’s yoga class. Or going to a class for older tweaky people to start:)
The point is, excuses are just that – pretend reasons you give yourself or others so that you don’t have to grow or try something that might benefit your life. And if you’ve decided that you don’t like yoga, for whatever reason, that’s cool. Especially if you’ve actually tried it. Yoga isn’t for everyone. But it is an ancient and powerful form of self-inquiry and health. And it just might be for you. You won’t really know, till you do it!
And by the way, yoga is not a religion. Yoga literally means Union. Union to what? Well, this is America! You choose!
Think you’re too old? Check out this video. I dare you to keep up that excuse:)
Share your reasons and excuses below. Tell me your thoughts and feelin’s. I’m always up for a good story!