I have been practicing yoga for almost 10 years now, and I have heard every excuse in the book for not getting on the mat.
I often hear people tell me that they "wish they could do yoga, but…" What follows is generally an excuse that is in no way a legitimate reason not to practice.
The excuses most people have for not practicing yoga are actually the reasons why they SHOULD be practicing yoga. ~Ali Washington
Let's look at these excuses people use to avoid stepping on the mat, and let's counter them!
1. I am not flexible enough to do yoga.
Flexibility is actually quite a unique skill to cultivate. It is different than strength or stamina in that opening the body tends to be a much slower progress. This is exactly why yoga is an awesome tool for increasing flexibility.
Stretches are woven in and out of postures in the flow of asanas, and muscles engage in a very different way during asanas than in traditional static stretches. You are far less likely to get bored with this active routine, will most likely stick with it long enough to see results, and will actually open the body faster using these methods.
Remember that the entire purpose of the asana practice is to open and strengthen each area of the body, so that you can sit in meditation longer! Yoga is the best place I know for developing flexibility.
2. I am not strong enough to do yoga.
Much like flexibility, developing strength in yoga class is a fun and unique way of getting to your goal. Rather than trying to build muscle in a gym setting, yoga simultaneously builds strength, flexibility, and body awareness, which means you are becoming far less susceptible to injury.
Getting your strength from yoga will also serve you in a very practical way, because yoga asanas tend to be rooted in functional movements that serve to improve your posture and your body alignment in general.
Rather than risking injury or over or undertraining muscle groups, yoga provides a balanced form of strength training that serves your life both on and off the mat.
3. I am not thin/lean/fit enough to do yoga.
Yoga is for every body. If you do not feel that in a yoga class, then change yoga classes! ~Ali Washington
Taking care of your body is one of the primary reasons to practice yoga. If you are feeling insecure about your physical form, that is even more of a reason to get on your mat. Yoga teaches us to cultivate a new relationship with our bodies in which we honor its beauty and respect its needs.
This is far more therapeutic and healing that most traditional forms of exercise. You will learn that treating your body like a temple is one of the best ways to foster long-term health. It really is not so much about how you look, as it is about how you feel.
Give yoga a chance to help you redefine your relationship with your body for the better.
4. I am not good at the poses.
Good thing yoga is not a performance sport! Yoga is about feeling good, honoring where you are, connecting with yourself on all levels, and discovering more about yourself. How you express this or that asana is really the last goal you should have in your practice.
A wise teacher once said that if yoga were truly about the postures, then young gymnasts would be the world’s greatest yogis—but that isn't the case. The poses may or may not come; however, practicing will bring so many other benefits that the expression of your body will become the least of your concerns.
5. I can’t slow down enough to enjoy a yoga class.
Finally, this is the best reason to go to yoga class and the absolute worst reason not to go! There is absolutely no other form of fitness that can help you stretch out, tone up, and release stress while you learn to become present and slow your mind.
Yoga is a complete mind-body workout that is far more approachable than sitting quietly in meditation or learning a bunch of chants—both of which are other traditional methods for cultivating a quiet mind.
Yoga is the best "gateway drug" for stillness of mind, so do not sell yourself short on the opportunity to slow down while you honor your body.
What excuses do you have for not practicing? Let me know down below, and maybe I will create a part two of this series!