Yoga for Every Body
“I’m not flexible enough to do yoga.” I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard that comment. My response is always, “Every Body can do yoga.” As my yoga teacher says, “If you can breathe, you can do yoga.” In other words, you don’t need to twist, stretch or bend into the shape of a pretzel to reap the benefits of yoga.
Muscular vs. Skeletal
Everybody’s body is unique. We are all built differently. I have yet to see the perfect body and am confident I never will.
Take flexibility for example. There are as many degrees of flexibility as there are bodies. But it’s important to consider why one person may be more, or less, flexible than another. HINT: It’s not always tight muscles.
It could be muscular but it could also be skeletal. Muscular, of course, is related to muscle tension and the tighter the muscles, the less flexibility. We can stretch muscles to make them more flexible and yoga is a great tool for doing that. However, each person’s ability to become more flexible is unique.
On the other hand, all the yoga in the world won’t help if it’s skeletal because that relates to the bones we were born with. Peoples’ bones come in a variety of lengths, shapes and sizes and fit into their sockets differently.
When bones touch or hit each other it’s called compression. It feels like things (muscles, bones, skin) are getting smashed together in an uncomfortable way. It’s a very different sensation from the “stretching a muscle” feeling and will definitely affect flexibility like muscle tension does.
How do you know if you are experiencing muscular tension or skeletal compression?
Yoga advises us to bring our attention inward and observe without judgment. A simple enough idea but it can be so challenging to implement. But, remembering this advice will keep you from pushing past your limits to potential injury. Here are some suggestions for protecting yourself:
- Observe: How does the posture feel in your body? Observation will keep your mind focused. It will also tell you if you’re feeling a gentle muscular stretch or potentially damaging compression. If the posture is painful or feels “pinchy” back off and adjust the posture or stop completely.
- No Comparing: People not only look different on the outside while doing a posture but also feel the posture differently on the inside. Your yoga practice will be more fulfilling when you bring your attention inward and allow yourself to experience without comparing yourself to another person or some “ideal”. Some questions to consider as you do each posture include:
- Where do I feel the stretch?
- Where do I feel tension or tightness?
- Is the sensation comfortable or not?
- How can I modify the posture to experience it in a different way?
- Observation Without Judgment: One of the great goals and gifts of yoga.
Yoga, which includes postures, breathing techniques and meditation, is for Every Body. It is reassuring to realize that you will experience yoga in your very own unique way. And, that you have observation to help you discover what that uniqueness is. Enjoy the exploration.
Health is a precious gift and my goal is to help you live a healthier, happier life through yoga. Every private session is uniquely designed just for you. For a free telephone consultation call me at 303.818.4181. Discover whether personalized, private yoga instruction is right for you.
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