I'm Too Stiff To Do Yoga

Yoga is an incredible form of exercise. It makes you stronger, more flexible and teaches you how to breathe better. Most importantly, it teaches you how to be in the moment. It's the perfect complement to weight training and cardio workouts. It relieves muscle soreness and makes your joints stronger as intensive cardio and weight workouts can have an impact on your joints.

Even with all the rage that yoga is right now, there are many who have never done it or don't see themselves ever doing it. I do think that yoga being such a big trend right now could actually be one of the reasons people don't want to do it. They see really buff men and women twisting themselves into insane shapes and doing impossible things like headstands and handstands, and they get scared.
They think that that's essentially what yoga is- being crazy flexible, having superhuman core strength and being able to balance on mountains and paddle boards.

And when I invite people to do my BodyBalance classes, they often say- I'm too stiff to do yoga. This is so far from the truth and probably perpetuated by what they're seeing on social media.

If you think you are too stiff to do yoga is exactly the reason why you should do it. You need to make yourself less stiff and make your muscles more flexible. Yoga is not about being able to twist yourself into a pretzel or do splits. Like absolutely any other exercise, it's about trying your best. That's all. If you can't touch your toes, no problem. If you can't stand too long in a warrior pose because your legs start to burn, it's no big deal.

You have to start somewhere. Even if that means you're taking a break for half the class and just breathing because the pose was too hard for you to do. Don't look at the others around you and compare yourself to them. They could have been doing it for a long time, or their body is simply more flexible than yours. Hey, I've been doing yoga since I was a teen and I still have tight hamstrings and shoulders. That doesn't make me want to give up.

When I hear someone saying they're too stiff to do yoga, it translates to me as them being too conscious to do it. That they're scared people will judge them for being so stiff. Get over your fears and insecurities of being the least flexible person in the class. Other people are not even thinking about you, I promise you. Everyone is thinking only about themselves, even if they might be looking at you.

And if you think that we as instructors are judging you, we don't. Or at least, those who do should really not be instructors. We know that it's normal people like you {and us} who need yoga the most. We're here to help you become better, not laugh at you. As an instructor, it makes me happy just to see my students trying. Even if you can't do the pose fully, it's still effective because you're trying. You're at least stretching those muscles that you've never stretched before.

Your body is not perfect and most possibly, it never will be. So don't worry about your imperfections and get into a yoga class for the benefits it gives you. Those amazing stretches in your muscles. The feeling of strength in warrior poses. Coming right into the present moment. And the quieting of the mind in the meditation/ relaxation at the end. And I promise you, you will get better. Your body will become more flexible. You'll become stronger. Your balance will become more stable, and you'll start to breathe from your belly.

So the next time you think, "I'm too stiff to do yoga.", immediately say to yourself, "And that's exactly why I need to do it."

Read more about my views on health, diet, body image, the different types of exercise, and how to get the body you love, in my book Loving Yourself In Style. Available online and in bookshops in Bahrain.

Shabana Feroze

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