To see some asanas ( “postures”), yoga is similar for many to the Cirque du Soleil show! These contortions may seem out of reach, but is it a point of view or a reality? Are we really flexible? Considered as the alter ego of gymnastics, yoga is supposed to adjust the physical appearance of the body, is rigidity or resistance a barrier to the practice of yoga?
We wrongly associate the practice of yoga only with the flexibility of the body. Yoga is for everyone! By starting the practice, we start from who we are, as we are. And it is yoga that makes us progress. The posture reflects our condition at the moment. Taking an asana, “a posture”, implies getting into position with the blockages or ease that are specific to us. Without looking for a perfect posture, it is a question of doing our best at this moment, of discovering ourselves and evolving in practice.

Yoga pose requiring flexibility
Meditation pose

Work on letting go to soften

Flexibility develops deeply and gradually as the practice progresses, a natural consequence that takes hold without anyone noticing. We are more flexible than we think. Because of a lack of self-confidence, it is our resistance that makes us rigid. The body is physiologically flexible. Flexibility is not a gain, it is something we will find again by revealing our blockages. If we work on this release, we work on the relaxation of the body.
It is up to us to discover the resistance we create for ourselves, because of our educational and societal conditioning. If we abandon ourselves in the posture, flexibility comes from fact, the earth’s attraction naturally leading us to let go of these parts of the body. Let us take for example Surya Namaskara, “greeting to the sun”. At first, we resist. Then in the repetition, with our eyes closed, we let go and gain flexibility.

The benefits of breathing

The postures constitute only one third of the complete practice. Yoga acts on the whole of our body and rebalances its physical, energetic and psychic functioning. Posture is a tool that targets work on the physical body. The body itself is a means of influencing the energy system, which in turn affects the mind. It is through the Pranayama “breath control”, that energy will circulate in our body. Even if the posture is not “perfect”, the physical, energetic and psychic effects are present. Like musketeers, these three elements collaborate and optimize the benefits of the practice.
We can all enjoy the benefits of yoga, flexibility is not a prerequisite. It is only one of many tools such as balance, endurance, letting go, acceptance, and breath control. You just have to let yourself be guided and do what needs to be done. And even the mind is more flexible than we think.

Written by Nathalie, from Hatha Yoga Academy of Marseille

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