Do I need to be flexible to do yoga?

 
 

To those people who think they’re not flexible enough for yoga. All I can say to you is… Bollocks. This is more of an excuse not to try than anything.

To be super clear - yoga is not about flexibility. Nor is it about physical strength. I began yoga because at the age of 21, I needed help from my partner to get dressed. My back was in so much pain (all the time) that I was verging on crippled. This can be in part attributed to Scoliosis and sitting at a desk for most of my life (school, uni, work, dinner…). Touching my toes would have been a miracle for me.

Whilst it’s a common misunderstanding to have (that you must be flexible and strong for yoga), I am a perfect example that this is not the case. Yes – when I began my practice many years ago, I struggled. I was exhausted with each and every asana. Never before had a practice pushed me to the limits the way yoga did. But with sheer commitment to myself and to healing my body, I too can now touch my toes and beyond. I can do strong backbends, balancing asanas and standing asanas. Of course there are MANY areas I need to work on, but this is all part of the journey. To keep exploring. To keep challenging myself. To find new areas of weakness that I can seek to understand a little more and in turn come to know myself a little better. This is the power of the practice.

Something to also remember is that commonly, the more advanced practitioners have lost their flexibility or strength to do some of the more basic (not simple) asanas. Their joints have become stiff or their muscles too tight. When I ask a person who can do strong handstands to sit straight for 2 minutes, it near kills them (figuratively speaking). Physical strength is not a sign of whole body awareness and control. So never be intimidated by those practitioners. It’s highly likely you’re much stronger and more flexible in many areas they now struggle with.

Remember – this is about your journey, not someone elses. Don’t compare yourself to others. Just accept your body as it is, embrace that you need to start somewhere and just begin. With consistent practice, from here, you’ll fly.

I would love to hear what’s stopping you from beginning your practice? And if you’ve started yoga, what made you finally take the plunge and get going?

Sending huge hugs and love to you all.

Jessica xo

Stillness amongst the crazy - taking time out to remain sane

With a hot cup of tea, snug socks and my mat - I couldn’t be more comfortable right now. Outside its raining and I’m sitting here, after this mornings Hatha practice, taking time out to collect my thoughts. Not a bad start to the day if you ask me.

Over the past few days there have been a number of people I’ve come across who manage to ooze stress and anxiety, and to be honest its challenging not to be affected by this. Being back in the real world means facing real life issues, one of which includes meeting and being around people who are stressed, possibly angry etc. This could be at the supermarkets, via phone calls whilst trying to find a space, in traffic. There isn’t the same ‘laid back’ attitude which exists in India. People are consumed by many social pressures, financial pressures etc which in essence breeds illness. My challenge - remain centered amongst this and do not allow myself to also become victim to such pressures. This isn’t to say I won’t feel stressed at times - I’m only human and that’s life I suppose, but something I need to work hard on is maintaining that ‘witness’. To be aware of how I’m feeling, constantly checking in to make sure I’m choosing my emotions rather than allowing them to choose me.

Yesterday I wanted to (in fact I did) cry. I had a momentary lapse in control where I felt completely overwhelmed by life here in Australia, specifically the ridiculous pace that people (which was once me) work/move/talk. Coming from the presence of the most centered person I’ve ever met, Bharath, it’s upsetting to see how vastly different my life/surroundings has since become. Restaurants playing loud trance music, people inhaling their food at lunch time.. it may sound silly but this sort of life has become foreign to me. Don’t get me wrong - India is the loudest place on the planet - but it’s a different sort of loud. Maybe it’s the pace of India which I miss? Or maybe it’s because I can’t understand anyone 99% of the time which means my world is ironically silent there? I’m not sure. I will meditate on that. All I know, is coming home has been/is the ultimate challenge for me. Who would have thought!!

Today is committed to more hall searching, insurance organising and finalising my website. It may all sound boring to some but for me, this is such an exciting day. Things are finally happening. Granted its slow as Im struggling to find a space, but i know it will all fall into place.

Until next time, be sure to take time out for yourself - away from the craziness of life. Sit quietly in a room, breathe and collect your thoughts. Your body and mind will thank you for it.

Namaste xx