Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What is flexibility?

In my yoga class tonight (as a student), the teacher told me that I am almost too flexible. I almost burst out laughing, but she was looking at one part of my body, my shoulder blades, and telling me to breath into them. She was right; I needed to fill them with some air, but too flexible? Not I! Not even close!

I have been focusing on flexibility a lot this week. I was presenting at a conference on Monday where someone’s emergency caused me to have to change my presentation plans. Then my flight was delayed. I also spent much of this past week writing my handouts for my yoga workshop for lawyers. One of the best benefits of yoga for lawyers I could find, besides balance, is flexibility.

The most common reason/excuse/justification I hear from people as to why they do not do yoga is that they are not flexible enough. I rarely know how to respond to this. Very few people are flexible when they start yoga, at least not physically. But what does the phrase, “I’m not flexible enough” say about a person?

Usually the person saying it means in the physical sense. Flexibility, however, is much deeper. Our flexibility is about how we relate to each other, to situations that arise in life, to other ideas, and to our own beliefs. Flexibility is life. Imagine a plant - we know it is alive when it is malleable, when it can sway with the wind. When plants die, they become hard and static, unable to bend without snapping. (Yes, all beings follow this pattern, but the most common dead thing most of us encounter are plants.)

An ability to take life as it arises is something I admire in people. Yoga has helped me let go of my controlling tendencies, my need to know what is happening, my desire to know the future, but I am far from feeling fully flexible. Some days are easier than others. But even though tonight in class, my shoulder blades were dipping, it was mostly because my chest is tight, and they are overcompensating. So, once again, I find myself seeking a balance, this time between front and back. Once again, my body is teaching me what my soul needs to learn.

So, my new answer to “I’m not flexible enough” is going to be, “just start.” Start testing the waters. Start moving with life. Start moving your body. Each and every day, I see my body change. Some days, like today, I feel strong and flexible all at the same time. But even on days like today, I see those parts of me that feel stiff as a board. Those places, those moments, are my best teachers.

I hope to encourage others to trust themselves enough to take that leap, to begin to let go, and to see what the world has to offer.

Namaste and blessings!

© Copyright 2010. Rebecca Stahl.


  1. I hear this all the time - not flexible enough. But as I teach in the workplace, I have learned so much about working with SERIOUSLY non-yoga people and modifying things and bringing a feeling of relaxation and relief. It's wonderful to be able to share that.

    Flexibility off the mat is much more difficult, I think - unharnessing from one's expectations is very challenging. At least it is for me.

    Great post, namaste!

  2. I agree, Anna. Flexibility in life is challenging - very challenging, but I truly believe that yoga makes it easier, one step at a time.

  3. I really like your blog. I am glad that I found your blog. How did you post so many good blogs. I will be reading more of your post.

  4. Thank you, yoga clothing. I really appreciate the support.