If you’ve read the About This Blog section, you’ll know I’m not the most flexible of yogis. I’ve been practicing regularly for just under three years. I started with the Runner’s World videos (https://www.runnersworld.com/runners-world-yoga-center/class-5-beginners-yoga) and then decided to find a studio for a number of reasons. Despite nearly three years of practice, I’m really not much more flexible than I was when I started. So why do I feel like I’ve made so much progress?
I’m stronger. I chose to do power yoga which focuses on both strength and flexibility. This is especially important since I’m terrible about strength training (which helps stave off injuries). While high running mileage still requires me to do additional strength training on my hips and glutes, power yoga has fully addressed my core and upper body. Having a strong core and upper body has done wonders for my form and helped avoid low back pain after long runs. I know many non-runners who have also enjoyed these benefits.
I found a supportive studio. The fantastic instructors at Sol Yoga Studio in Conshohocken (https://www.solyogastudio.com/) are great about celebrating each yogi’s abilities during class. At Sol, yogis have the freedom to try more advanced positions, but the instructors are always telling you to listen to what’s right in your body on a given day. There are no expectations and only positive reinforcement. It’s part of the reason I keep going back.
I like a challenge. It may take me two years to master a position, but I like a challenge enough to stick with it. Getting my core strong enough to consistently hold a side plank took forever, but felt amazing when I finally did it. I know I may never be able to hold some positions, but I love the challenge of trying to reach a half-inch further while reaping the benefits of a particular position.
As you can see, the reasons above have nothing to do with my flexibility. If you focus on your own practice, in a supportive environment, you can get a lot out of an hour on your yoga mat.