Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
YogaNewbie

Really Inflexible

7 posts in this topic

I'm brand new to yoga. I avoided it for so long because I can't even touch my toes- in fact, I can barley touch my shins! I've been to a couple classes and have been doing videos, but I'm so far off from the actual poses, I don't even know if I'm actually doing any benefit to my body! Will I see progress if I barely resemble the poses right now? Should I be starting with something more basic? How quickly should I see progress?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most yogis I know - even teachers - have issues with flexibility to some degree or another. I have been practicing yoga for 13 years (albeit not always consistently), am about to finish my teacher training program, and my flexibility leaves much to be desired. Yoga is not about being able to touch your toes to your head or wiggle your way into full lotus.

 

First and foremost, yoga is not competitive and it is crucial that you do not push your body beyond its capabilities. Most poses can be readily modified for inflexible folks. "Hatha" or "Gentle Flow" classes may be your best option until you develop more flexibility, as are Iyengar beginner classes and even chair yoga. If you can swing it, a few private sessions geared on learning modifications with an instructor you like could really be a great thing.

 

You mentioned not being able to touch your toes, so for forward folding, make sure you minimize the degree to which you round your lower back and deeply bend your knees instead. Seriously, there is no need to keep them straight! If the nature of the class allows it, you could use blocks to bring the floor closer to you. For tight hips, you can elevate your sit bones by sitting on a bolster or two, some folded blankets, or even a block. If you are doing a seated forward fold this way, make sure your knees are at least slightly bent.

 

Also, be patient with yourself - yoga is a beautiful and challenging journey; it's not a destination. Good luck to you!

Laura, marcia, mimisouth and 1 other like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Congrats on starting! That's a huge first step. You will definitely see progress with consistent practice. I'd recommend starting with learning some basics (this is a good downward dog visual for beginners (it says it's for men but really it's just for anyone who is overall tight). And here are five poses for total beginners. When you're ready to follow along to some videos, here's a playlist for beginners. We're here for you if you have questions!!  :)

marcia and KristiSmithYoga like this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm brand new to yoga. I avoided it for so long because I can't even touch my toes- in fact, I can barley touch my shins! I've been to a couple classes and have been doing videos, but I'm so far off from the actual poses, I don't even know if I'm actually doing any benefit to my body! Will I see progress if I barely resemble the poses right now? Should I be starting with something more basic? How quickly should I see progress?

You've come to the right place.

I am a relative newbie (just started late last year, I'm 56 years old, and the only poses I knew were hibernating bear and hungry dog)

I also was unable to get past my shins, so I can relate.

Little known fact...<5% of people can, so you're not alone! (okay, I made up that statistic, but nearly everyone who doesn't do yoga says "I'm inflexible!"

 

I'll be posting more later on, but suffice to say, it doesn't happen overnight.

Touching your toes is not the beginning...it's a mid term goal that can be achieved over time (bend your knees slightly, or more, as needed).

Classes are good, in that they'll help you learn, but many/most are NOT designed for newbies (IMHO) they are too fast (the pace assumes one is somewhat familiar and limber). 

My advice...learn a few of the basic poses, for example the ones posted here (sorry Candace :( LOL ) and practice on your own. Spend a few minutes on each one (some classes will spend 30 seconds on poses) until you feel comfortable. If/when you fall or stumble, just try it again...it takes time.

Stretching a tight muscle is like pulling on a stubborn mule (read that article a few times) or pulling on Chinese handcuffs (the harder you pull the worse it will be). Spend a ton of time at this web site (and others) as there are great articles out there.

Go slow, when you hit a resistance point, DON'T try to power through it, but rather, take a few breaths and slowly see if you can go another 1/2 inch. In a week you will, then it will be an inch or more!

Try this, incredibly difficult, pose (don't worry about the hands, just cup each elbow behind your back). You won't be able to get far...but if you do it each morning and night for a few minutes, you'll slowly learn to stretch the hamstring. The photo shows her nose near her knee...trust me, you aint getting there any time soon!...after a few months I celebrated when my head got below the horizon...it's tough, but a great stretch to help your leg flexibility.

Most of all, watch as many Candace videos as you can. Will it help you stretch? No. But they're amazingly beautiful, soothing and she's fun to watch. After a while, some of the 'things' will sink in and make sense.

Again, don't be frustrated, it takes time.

Feel free to reply or private message me with any questions for a beginner. I am not an expert, I am not a trained yogi, but I am a beginner who knows, all too well, the struggles and frustrations.

I leave you with this motivation...watch it a few times (there's a ten second ad at the beginning, that's not the motivation)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Welcome to the community.

 

First of all you are doing something which is the most important part. It will give you a huge benefit if you do a little every day. It will take a long time, probably years to gain the type of flexibility that you might see in yoga pictures. But many other benefits will come more quickly.

 

This part might seem discouraging but give it a little thought. All of your life, 10 years, 20 years or more you have worked really hard to make yourself inflexible and look at the results. You have been incredibly successful at this except it probably wasn't intentional and wasn't what you wanted. But you see the results if you work at something a little bit for a long time. Now you just have to do this in a different way so the outcome gives you what you want. The poses in yoga are yours, not anyone else's version. Find something you enjoy and stay with it everyday.

KristiSmithYoga likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

YogaNewbie, hello!

 

Before I started practising yoga, I did gymnastics for some time. And before going to class I find it helpful to do gymnastics stretches to warm up (even before the yoga warmup). So sometimes I would just browse on youtube and search for more stretching videos from gymnastics, cheerleading and ballet. I found that they are very one-sided and straightforward, so instead of trying to master the poses that require flexibility, I think you shouldn't be afraid to find ways outside of yoga to improve your flexibility.

 

Once you become flexible, you will realise how much strength you actually need to build up for yoga! (at least that's my problem at the moment)

The best of luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0