No, you do not need to be flexible to do yoga. However, what you need to be is to be patient. Stretching happens when you can fully relax your muscles (no forcing) and your body/mind can best be relaxed when you breathe. In through your nose and out through your nose. Slowly and deeply. Consciously.
Conscious breathing takes effort. It makes you connect with yourself. As you focus on your breath, the mind can’t wander. No “shopping list”, no “what I am going to cook tonight”, and no “who is picking up the children tomorrow” type of conversations. Yoga will allow you to enjoy your own company and free yourself up.
Deep breathing will flush the muscles with fresh, oxygenated blood, help you settle your mind from running thoughts, expectations, and all whats the result of “chest breathing”. Anxiety, feeling overwhelmed, stress, etc. Yoga is accessible for everyone, regardless of your shape, size, form, gender. Flexibility is the result of a regular yoga practice. Enjoy the journey!
What class should I attend as a beginner?
Based on my teaching experience, I would recommend hatha yoga and restorative yoga as a start. With time as the individual grows, move on to slow flow and yin, then vinyasa, power, and hot classes.
So definitely start with a slow-paced class. Take each session at your own pace and always listen to your body.
The body needs time to adapt, so is the mind. Yoga isn’t just an exercise, it’s a path. It will slowly transform your life and more likely you as a person as well.
I can’t touch my toes!
Forward fold (Uttànasana) is not about touching your toes. Believe it or not.
Find a comfortable hip-width apart for the feet, to feel grounded and stable. Arms down by your side, you are in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
Inhale through your nose and lift your arms overhead, elongate (lengthen) your spine and as you exhale through your nose, hinge forward from your hips. Bend your knees (as much as you need to) if your lower back is tight.
Allow the upper body, arms, shoulders, neck, and head to be heavy and enjoy the stretch in the entire backside of the body. Stay in this pose for 3 to 5 breaths. Take an inhale, push through your feet and roll yourself up to Tadasana.
How far your hands are going, is not important at all. Enjoying the journey that leads you to your toes is more important. Working with your body is more important. The key is to let go and soften with each exhale.