The media representation of yoga is pretty reductive. Talk is all about weight loss and flexibility and images are mostly of improbably skinny and bendy people smiling into the camera whilst doing the splits in a handstand! Images of people being 'good at it'.
This can be a bit off-putting.
Often people will say to me, imagining that classes are only for the naturally flexible: 'I would love to try it but I'm so inflexible, I'd be so bad at it!'
No one is bad at it!!!
In yoga there is no such thing as getting it right or wrong, being naturally good or bad it, it is simply a movement practice for better health. We use the poses to learn about where the body has a greater or lesser range of movement and work with that, with a focus on strength and stability, the two key things your body needs to function well.
Interestingly, many overtly flexible people (including those with hypermobility) lack fundamental strength and stability because their joints go beyond the healthy range of movement. These people benefit from learning how to return to healthy range of motion by building strength in the muscles surrounding the joint to gain stability. So they are neither good at it or bad it and certainly no better at it than the person who cannot touch their toes. They are just in class to use the postures for information about what their body needs.
Its definitely fun to work on the challenging yoga poses and great to be inspired by those who have worked for years towards achieving a very advanced version of a pose. However, the truth behind many a yoga class, irrespective of which style is taught, is that there are both super flexible and ordinary non bendy people of all shapes and sizes having a great time enjoying healthy movement.
This is what makes alignment based yoga in particular is accessible to everyone.
The focus is less on achieving impressive gymnastics and more on using healthy alignment in the poses to cultivate fantastic health. We use the yoga practice to restore the range of movement for which your body was designed - the kind of strength and flexibility that your body needs to do everything you need it to do.
Using the yoga postures as alignment markers, you will observe where your body is now, learn about what the full range of movement your body could achieve and then work on how to get there.
In an Everybody Alignment class, you move your body through firstly simple and then increasingly challenging postures, learning about how the movement can strengthen and stabilise the spine, shoulders, hips, knees and feet. All postures have modifications and intensifications to suit everyone.The focus is on what is right for you, teaching you how to recognise where the boundaries of your physical tension are and how to work with them towards improved strength and health.
So, don't hesitate to reframe your thinking on whether yoga can be for everyone. I firmly believe it is. It can be so empowering to use the practice to get to know your own body and identify what to work on for your best strength, stability and health.
Class is not about doing pretty postures. It's a chance to take your health into your own hands and see and feel amazing results.
Ditch the idea of good or bad and come for the brilliant health instead :)