People sometimes tell me that they are too stiff to do yoga. Usually they come to that conclusion after pointing out they can’t reach their toes. I’m not sure where, when and how the toe touching became the standard unit of measurement for your ability to do yoga, but it sure is out there.
We can probably blame the internet… somehow.
The interesting thing is that for a lot of us chair-bound-bum-sitting westerners, bending down from standing to touch your toes – with good form/alignment – can be a pretty advanced move. Especially for my athletic friends, the runners, swimmers and triathletes. The short hamstrings nation. Now please note that running in and of itself does not cause short hamstrings, but improper running form and/or overload in training can surely contribute.
So why is it that the same people, who totally get that training and conditioning is required to run a sub 20 5k (that’s damn fast for you non-runners), don’t think that “training” yoga (aka practicing) would in a similar manner yield improvements? And maybe even one day a reunion with those elusive toes.
I’m not sure. Maybe they aren’t keen on yoga, and it’s a handy way out. Or maybe it’s the competitiveness that won’t allow them to come in and be beginners at something? There are many reasons for choosing not to go to class – but not being able to touch your toes shouldn’t be the one to keep you from practicing.
And maybe I’m just bitter about the toe thing because mine are gradually disappearing from view. Properly aligned forward bends are already a thing of the past, now modified heavily with a chair, and a block. Sigh. But – they still feel oh-so-good, and the little one starts kicking up a storm after a few standing poses – and that is fun :)
To conclude, you are not sure if you can do yoga or not, just ask yourself “can I breathe?”. If the answer is yes, you are good to go :)