Don’t get me wrong, brothers. I’m not trying to throw our gender under the bus. Women have been known to hold illogical views, too. But that’s a topic for a different writer, one less motivated than I am to stay happily married. Anyway, back to yoga…
I talk to a lot of guys about yoga (I’m a huge proponent of it for 40+ guys). One of the most-often-mentioned “reasons not to do yoga” makes no sense: inflexibility.
As in, “Yeah, I took a yoga class once, but I’m so inflexible…” I definitely empathize here. I’m not one of those super-flexible guys either: there are still things in some yoga classes I just can’t do.
But isn’t not doing yoga because you’re not flexible like saying “I don’t do cardio workouts because I get out of breath,” or “I don’t do push-ups because my chest and arms are kind of weak?”
The “Flexibility” Objection to Yoga and What It Really Means
And yet, a bunch of guys point to “inflexible” as a reason to avoid yoga.
For some, the real unstated reason might be something else. Maybe concerns it isn’t “manly” enough (please get over this, he-man…other fit, strong guys have). Perhaps discomfort with the semi-spiritual stuff some yoga instructors bring into it. In these cases, it’s about 30 seconds out of a typical class. Not a big deal…and besides, a little bit of spirituality probably wouldn’t hurt you, man, kind of like chicken soup when you have a cold.
For guys who really have the flexibility objection as their reason, though, I think this means, deep-down, they don’t see flexibility as that important, at least not compared to strength, endurance, or maybe even just “not being overweight.”
“Notice that the stiffest tree is most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending with the wind.” -Bruce Lee
But gentlemen: for the OlderBeast, flexibility is a huge part of feeling great, looking our best, continuing to get happier as life rolls by, and living the longest fullest life that’s in the cards for each of us.
Why Flexibility Really Is Key (and Hopefully You’ll Realize It Sooner vs. Later)
⇒ Prevents injuries
⇒ Prevents back pain (something about half of people in developed nations have at one point or another)
⇒ Enhances performance in endurance, strength and all physical activities
⇒ Improves circulation
Flexibility also makes everyday activities easier and less “old-man-ish.” Like reaching for something in a high or low cabinet, putting on socks, getting out of a chair…you name it.
I had a few months last summer and fall where I didn’t do yoga (due to injury from an obstacle race; that’s a story for a different day). Among other things, I noticed I couldn’t as easily twist to look over my shoulder when backing my car out of the garage. It made me feel “old” and in decline.
When I was able to resume a regular yoga practice… “younger-feeling me” came back!
At 40, 50, 60+…it’s the little stuff like this that starts to separate the young/spry-looking (and feeling) guys from the old/creaky ones, brothers.
Which one will you choose to be?
Friendly Challenge For You
Which brings us back to the “I don’t do yoga because I’m not flexible” statement. With no agenda in mind other than your thriving, here’s a friendly challenge.
1. Do an honest assessment of your flexibility. Not just “can you touch your toes?” but across various dimensions. You can find a variety of flexibility self-assessments online. Here’s one you may want to use.
2. Yoga or otherwise, commit to working on flexibility more. For example, a 5 to 10-minute stretching routine after every cardio or strength session is a must (warm up lightly before these things, stretch after).
Within the cardio category, this is key for swimmers, too, even though they might not feel they “need to stretch” as much as runners or cyclists do.
3. Yoga. If this post has inspired, motivated or shamed you into trying or re-trying it, that’s awesome. I’d never aim for the “shame” outcome as my preferred one…but whatever it takes, man.
Don’t just go do a single yoga class, though. Commit to doing it 1-2x per week for a month. Most yoga studios have some kind of “new student” or “first 30 days” discounted option, so this fits well.
A friend of mine used to say about eventually getting smart on some topic or other: “no stupidity in perpetuity.” Paraphrasing that a bit, I hope you evolve away from the twisted logic of avoiding yoga because of inflexibility!
How about this as a new quote, then: “I’m not that flexible currently, and that’s why I do yoga”?
“Come on, come on, come on, come on, now touch me, baby. Can’t you see that I am not afraid?” (The Doors, Touch Me – click to listen)