Yoga And Flexibility

Author: Charley Hickey is a practicing yoga therapist and senior yoga teacher who runs group and private yoga classes in Applecross & Fremantle, Perth.  She also runs specialised yoga workshops for yoga students & yoga teachers.

“What will happen if I take a few days off?”  As a small business owner this is the dilemma I’ve mentally tortured myself with many times.

I’m returning to work tomorrow after an unplanned full week off from teaching which prompted me to write this.  (It’s nothing serious so please don’t worry!)

In the past, I used to easily talk myself out of having time off.   In part this was due to my absolute lack of flexibility.   I didn’t want to change things outside of my familiar schedule.  This extended to not wanting to change anyone else’s schedules either, for example the teachers that work for me.  There was also the worry of my students having to have a different teacher.  This lack of flexibility has always caught up with me in the end. Sometimes causing mini-burnouts which I’m sure sound all too familiar to anyone that lives in this century!

More recently, I’ve learnt to ask a newly phrased question instead. “What will happen if I don’t take a few days off?”.  This is a much more sensible and useful question.  It reminds me of times where my body has been sending me clear signals to take time out yet my lack of flexibility has impacted my ability to make a sensible decision.   So often we are giving others advice to slow down and take a rest when needed but it’s much harder to turn that mirror onto ourselves and really see what is needed.

Flexibility And Yoga

It’s my belief that flexibility in yoga is much more about flexibility of mind then flexibility of body.  Being flexible of mind  helps us to get through life shouldering much less stress when things don’t go to plan.  It sounds much like how a regular yoga practice can help us.  The flexibility that you might achieve over time in your physical body through the practice of yoga is great but really just a by-product of yoga rather than one of the goals.

Here is a definition of the word flexible in that physical context:

Flexible (adjective); capable of bending easily without breaking.

However, here is a definition in the context that I believe to be the most relevant in yoga:

Flexible (adjective); ready and able to change so as to adapt to different circumstances

Synonyms –  accommodating, adaptable, amenable, willing to compromise, cooperative, tolerant, forgiving, easy-going.

These words all seem to me like universally useful additions to our personality traits.  Perhaps over time this could allow life to flow along in a  more fluid way thus adding to our overall happiness.   By comparison, being able to touch our toes in terms of physical flexibility seems less meaningful to me in terms of overall well-being and happiness.  Does being able to touch your toes help you and others as much as being flexible and adaptable to changes in your life?

How do you combine flexibility and yoga? Is it more useful to be flexible or flexible?

Charley Hickey




For a hands on learning experience of yoga and flexibility you are welcome to join us for a term of yoga to help improve your “flexibility” whichever way you like!  You can view our timetable here and read more about how we specialise in helping you start your yoga practice especially if you lack flexibility here