"I am just not flexible enough for yoga" is not unlike claiming "I am just not articulate enough to speak." We hear excuses like this over and over again, and sometimes there is no convincing those who have yet to try a physical yoga practice that anyone and everyone is capable of practicing asana.
Where there is a will, there is a way, and having that will means choosing to remove the blinders that might be narrowing the perception of what is and is not feasible. All we need to do is shift perspectives and get a little creative.
Teachers have students' best intentions at heart, but in group classes we just do not have the bandwidth to be with each and every student for every pose. We do what we can to thoughtfully instruct and assist when possible, but ultimately the act of being mindful enough to take good care of the body is up to the practitioner themselves.
To our knowledge, the student-teacher relationship began mostly as a one-on-one practice. Today's society obviously poses much different circumstances. If a student has not, will not, or is not able to have a private session with a teacher for one reason or another, it is not always easy for them to know what to do during those confusing moments in class in regards to flexibility. It can be frustrating, disheartening, and can also cause injury if students are not able to figure out how (or why) to back out of their pose in the interest of keeping the body safe.
That being said, many of us have read or heard stories and studies about how asana can result in tremendous benefits, which of course includes increasing flexibility in both the body and mind over time. If we are patient enough to explore the path of self-inquiry inside and out, we might notice the difference as we continue to come to the mat with equal amounts of challenge, compassion, awareness, and lightheartedness.
Here are eight helpful tips for those moments when you or someone you know are feeling intimidated and or too inflexible to go to yoga class: