A friend recently wrote that she resisted trying yoga because she couldn’t even touch her toes. I often hear that someone is not going to try yoga because they are not flexible. Sometimes it is because they feel unable to sit still and sometimes because they think that is all we do in yoga is touch toes or sit still. Stillness and flexibility can make yoga seem conceptually strange and unattainable for an energetic person. In my practice, I set out to do two things: first be clear that if you can already touch your toes, that piece of the practice isn’t what we would work on and second I need for you to believe in the incredible advantages of being able to bend deeply if you can and even if you now can’t and second I share the true power of getting a very busy mind and body to be still particularly if it is difficult for you. I shared with this friend that I try to set the bar for flexibility pretty low by doing this stuff myself and I am the tightest hamstring in most rooms, but yoga asks that you come as you are and by agreeing to show up as you are, you get to become who you are, which is assuredly a good thing. Its you 2.0. Its you in your best and better version. I always remember that the intrinsic “who” of you is fixed and perfect. The layering we put on top is most often of someone else’s design and you never chose it or felt comfortable with it. Good news, it is removable and disposable.
By the way, Bowing forward to touch your toes is difficult for most of us who like to see what’s coming. Those of us who put energy into planning and controlling life to whatever level of success resist the requirement to let go completely in order to bow down. Utanasana (standing forward bend) is actually about releasing the primordial need to stand and face your fights but instead to close your eyes and free fall forward and surrender to them peacefully. The metaphor in your body is that when you stop resisting and do let go …. your hip hinge brings your heart to touch your legs and allows your crown to be suspended over the earth. This new freedom feels wonderful. It is so terrific in fact that you begin to recreate it even as you return to your upright and locked position. You keep the sense of surrender as you stand up and walk into your life’s chaos. It was never about touching your toes but when you move and breathe in that direction eventually you may find and grab them but it wont really ever have been the point. Ruah!