Can I do yoga if I’m not flexible?

When people find out I’m a yoga instructor, they often remark, “Oh, I should do that; I keep hearing how good it makes you feel.”

This is often followed by, “But I’m so inflexible; I don’t think I’d be good at yoga.”

This is akin to saying, “I want to make music on the guitar, but I’m not going to take lessons because I don’t know how to play.”

Ten college students at the University of California at Davis recently participated in a study of the effects of taking yoga classes four times a week for eight weeks. Measurements were taken of muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, lung function and other parameters. What the study found was that flexibility increased by as much as 188 per cent.

You might be thinking, “Sure, those were young people, and they were doing four classes a week! My body is too stiff to respond like that.”

However, what I observe in my classes is this: when people commit to attending regularly, their bodies change, no matter what their age. They DO become more flexible. That flexibility helps them shoulder-check while driving, it makes it easier to tie their shoes and other activities simply become more enjoyable. All in all, they feel younger.

Perhaps you’re hesitating to attend a yoga class because you think you might be asked to do more than your body is capable of. A good teacher, however, will emphasize that you breathe deeply, move slowly and pay attention to what feels appropriate for your body. This will help you stay within your comfortable and safe range of motion. So yes, you can do yoga if you’re not flexible. In fact, limited flexibility is a great reason to try yoga in the first place!

And if you stay with it, you might be amazed at the transformations that you experience.

Catherine Reid is a Registered Yoga Teacher, offering a variety of classes in the Comox Valley.  To experience the rich health benefits of yoga, call 250-898-8414 or visit

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