I’m too inflexible for yoga!

I’ve actually lost count of the number of times someone has said to me, “I’m too inflexible for yoga“. The first time I heard it, I found it quite surprising. Not because I was shocked that this particular person was inflexible, but because it was the main reason I started practicing yoga. It seemed odd to hear it as a reason not to practice it.

If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Do I need to be flexible for yoga?” the answer is “No.” Yoga can help improve your flexibility and range of motion, but you don’t need to be flexible to begin with. This is often something just achieved over time and with practice.

I started practicing yoga over 10 years ago because I was terrible at stretching and yoga forced me to spend some time stretching out my body. It was very much a physical practice for me at the beginning. I couldn’t touch my toes and I often woke up in the middle of the night with a cramp in my calf or hamstring. I decided to start yoga as I hoped it would reduce the cramping and help increase my flexibility – which it did, with time and practice. But when I begin I definitely wouldn’t say I was flexible.

My first regular yoga class was a mixed class with students ranging in age from 23 to 75. We all had different flexibility levels, we all looked different in the pose, we used different props and sometimes even took different poses to accommodate our needs. Maybe I was fortunate as it was clear to me in this class – yoga wasn’t about the shape you were making, it was about moving in a way that felt good for you and your body. And this is bound to look different to the others around me. And that didn’t matter. Some days I could do all the poses on offer, sometimes I couldn’t. Even now I often can’t do all the yoga poses in a class – but that’s ok. I’m still getting the benefits my body needs.

“I’m too inflexible for yoga” – where did this idea come from?

The more and more I heard people say, “I’m too inflexible for yoga”, or ask, “Do I need to be flexible to do yoga?” the more I started to wonder, where has these ideas and questions come from?

For me, when I started, yoga was a gentle class, where I was given the opportunity to focus on my breath, unwind and stretch my tight muscles in a way that felt good to me.

Though it may have existed, at the time I wasn’t familiar with power yoga, and never really considered handstands or arm balances to be connected with yoga. There was no Instagram, there was no fancy yoga pants (tights) and there was no beautiful yoga studio. It was just, me, in my sweat pants (trousers for the English), slowly working my way towards touching my toes, in a big, old (non-fancy) sports hall.

I’m not sure when the yoga image changed. I almost feel like I missed the transition. One day I woke up and realised, yoga is everywhere. And though I think it’s great that there is now so much choice and variety within the yoga world. I find it sad that social media (amongst other things) has altered the perception of yoga to make it seem like only fit, flexible, healthy people can take part. Well, I’m here to tell you it’s not true. You do not need to be flexible to do yoga. However, if you practice regularly, you will see an improvement in your flexibility over time.

Anyone can do yoga. What is important is finding the right class and teacher for you.

If you are worried about being inflexible, then maybe start with a gentle yoga class. If you don’t like getting on the floor, you could try chair yoga. Don’t like “Downwards Dog” pose, try ‘wrist-less’ yoga or ask your teacher how to modify poses to reduce wrist pain

Just remember which ever class you choose, it doesn’t matter if you don’t look like the other students in the class – we’re all built differently, and even our bone structure can impact the poses we do.

Back when I started yoga, there was little choice and little demand. Now with so many different types of yoga classes, there is likely to be a class out there for you. The hard part is finding it. So if you don’t like the first class you attend, don’t let that put you off. Get back out there and try a different one.

Gentle Beginners Yoga Class

So inspired by this, for this Wednesday’s weekly yoga class I’ve put together a gentle beginners yoga class and also this beginners yoga guide to help prepare you for your first class.

This class is a beginners class, but there are still a few poses that you may find a little challenging, as I think it’s good to have a little bit of challenge. But I’ll be giving lots of options and modifications for different poses throughout the class. Take what option feels good for you.

Wednesday’s weekly yoga class: Gentle Beginners Yoga Class

Now everyone is different. So if this class still doesn’t meet your needs, don’t let that put you off. Maybe even drop me a line or comment below and we can talk through some options together.

Standing Yoga Sequence for Beginners – 10(ish) min class

This 10 minute standing yoga sequence for beginners, can be practiced with or without shoes (preferably without – but with this lovely sunshine you might like to practice in the garden). It can be practiced at any time of day and by anyone – complete beginners or more experienced yogis welcome.

This was my very first yoga video, which I filmed at Filwood Community Centre after teaching my Monday night yoga class. Since then I’ve put together a beginners yoga playlist on my YouTube channel and I will add a couple of new beginner classes each month. Subscribe to my channel to keep updated.

Once the Coronavirus is under control, I will restart the in-person beginner classes at Filwood Community Centre. And I’m looking at starting a regular Family Yoga class. Let me know if you’d like to be updated when either of these happen.

I’ve also put together a beginners yoga guide and if you sign up to my email list you also will get access to FREE beginner yoga checklists to help prepare you for your first online or in-person yoga class.

Stay safe everyone! Enjoy the sunshine and I hope you like this practice!

Kelly X

Standing Yoga Sequence for Beginners Class

Props: All completely optional – the sequence can be practiced with or without props.

  • Yoga mat (if you have one)
  • Yoga brick (or hard back books/ a box)
  • A towel/ pillow (for padding for the knee)

As always, if you feel any pain at any point during the practice, please gently come out of the pose. Listen to your body and only work within it’s limits. You can always drop me an email if you have any questions.

Standing Yoga Sequence for Beginners – filmed at Filwood Community Centre

If you enjoyed this class and would like more, check out my Beginners Yoga for Flexibility sequence. Or sign up to my email list to be notified of my weekly Wednesday classes.

Beginners Yoga for Flexibility – 10 min class

This is a 10 minute beginners yoga for flexibility sequence, which you can practice at any time of day. It is however particularly great to practice first thing in the morning, as we will work on moving the spine improving overall spine mobility.

This is one of the first yoga videos I’ve filmed, so please bear with me as I hopefully improve with time.

Since creating this class I’ve put together a free Beginners Yoga Guide to help prepare you for your next yoga class (whether online or in-person). I’ve also created a beginners playlist, which I’ll be adding a couple of new, free classes to each month. Subscribe to keep updated.

Enjoy and drop me a message if you have any questions.

Thanks! Namaste!

Kelly X

Beginners Yoga for Flexibility Sequence

This is a gentle, floor based sequence to wake up the spine and build flexibility in the body. You won’t need any special props – just a yoga mat, if you have one. And maybe some extra padding for the knees if you’re on a hard surface.

As always, yoga can be challenging, but it should never be painful. No one knows your body better than you do, so please make sure you listen to your body and work within your limits. If you do feel any pain, then slowly make your way out of the pose.

If you enjoyed this class and would like more, check out my Standing Yoga class for beginners. Or sign up to my email list to be notified of my weekly Wednesday classes.