Confession time: I haven't done yoga in two weeks. TWO WEEKS! For me and my body, that's practically an eternity. It started with a 30-hour car ride to SXSW (take that, hamstrings) and despite every intention to take a class in Austin, I just didn't.
My first thought upon returning to NYC was, "Argh! I've lost all my flexibility! My teachers are going to be appalled!" Then remembered what I often tell new students. Whenever I mention someone should come to Geek Yoga, 9 times out of 10 they reply with, "But I'm not flexible."
Contrary to popular belief, the aim of yoga is NOT flexibility. Flexibility is a nice by-product and you WILL see your flexibility improve dramatically week-over-week. The intention is around integrity -- engaging all of your muscles without straining, extending your energy lines and remembering to breathe. Yoga is about the integration of mind, body and spirit -- developing strength and flexibility with grace and a sense of balance and ease.
As one of the teachers at Katonah says, he sees two types of students: "loose screws and nut jobs." Loose screws are TOO loose -- they flop all over and need to focus on engaging their muscles not just falling-back on their flexibility. Nut jobs are very tight -- they can focus on breathing into areas holding tension and releasing and loosening a little bit more every pose.
So in your next class, instead of beating yourself up for your lack of flexibility (::::ahem, looks in mirror::::), consider the following questions instead: Am I feeling the stretch? Am I breathing evenly? Am I extending through each limb where appropriate for the pose? How are my angles and lines? Am I surfing the edge of my strength and flexibility without over-exerting? Finally, drop your thoughts altogether and just have some fun!!