I know of a few people who’d like to try out yoga but say things like “I can’t touch my toes” or “I’m not flexible enough.” Their hesitation is understandable. A lot of us think we need to be a certain way in order to do things. Our insecurities often cloud our judgment. One of the more bizarre excuses I’ve heard is: “I can’t go to gym because I’m fat and I’d look like a rhino beside all those buff and trim freaks.” Well, those freaks are buff and trim because they go to gym, see. And if you want to be like them, you’d better hit the treadmill! We often think we’ll get judged for not being or looking the way we think we should. Of course, that’s always possible. But, heck, so what?
Let me say this: You’re not expected to be able to touch your toes when you go to your first yoga class. And if you decide to be serious about the practice, you’ll get to a point where you can do more with your body than just touch your toes, believe me!
When I was starting out, I was scared of inversions. I didn’t even dream of doing the headstand, let alone the handstand. In my mind, it was simply impossible for me to go against gravity, even though I’ve seen people do it. So imagine my shock when, with an experienced and confident teacher’s help, I was able to do the headstand for the first time. She let go of me for all of three seconds but it was enough to boost my confidence and for me to believe that anything can happen. I was over the moon! When the opportunity to do the handstand came up, I was hesitant and frightened but went for it anyway. My first few tries were duds but, again in the presence of another wonderful teacher, I was able to nail it. Before I knew it, my legs and feet were airborne and then rested on the wall. My arms and core were shaking like Jell-O but the point was, I did it!
I do the headstand and handstand at home and in class with a wall behind me. I’ll keep building up strength and confidence so I can do them WITHOUT the wall. Yikes. I’m still scared out of my mind sometimes but… nothing ventured, nothing gained. Wish me luck!
So, if you’ve been curious about trying out yoga — or anything, for that matter — and think that you’ve got to have certain skills or look a certain way before you can take that first step, I say chuck those thoughts, conquer that fear and just do it. All you need are curiosity and a good dose of daring.
To learn more about how to do inversions, click here. Please do not attempt to do these on your own if you’re a beginner. Find a good teacher who can guide you.