Can I do yoga if I am not flexible?

Beth Oliver
Fitness Specialist

Trust me, you are not the only one asking this question! The answer is a re-sounding yes!

Yoga will help you become more flexible, just as it helps those who are very flexible to develop strength, or those who need it to develop balance and/or concentration. There are no prerequisites at all. Feel free to visit my profile page, as I will post several videos to help get you started!

There is no requirement to be flexible in order to begin a yoga practice. This is a common misperception. Many people come to yoga in the hopes of increasing their flexibility and improving their posture, often thinking they will arrive at these results purely by stretching the areas that are tight. Instead, yoga helps to build stability in the muscles, and thereby the joints, helping to prevent the compensatory actions in the body that lead to poor movement patterns that result in poor posture. As strength and stability increases it translates into an increase in your range of motion in the muscles and the joints. This allows for a more structurally sound body position (posture) and makes it easier to stay in good body alignment.

Yes, in fact if you are not flexible yoga should become an integral part of your fitness routine. Many participants feel that flexibility is required before starting yoga, so you are not alone in your concern. While flexibility is not a requirement there are some helpful tips that can make your first yoga experience pleasant. Look for the words basic, beginner or gentle on the class description. Make sure and arrive to your first class ten minutes early so you can meet the instructor. Inform the instructor of any injuries or if you have any questions. Ask the instructor for a yoga strap and two yoga blocks and ask how to use these props to make the poses doable when lack of flexibility is an issue. After class, ask the instructor any questions that you have to make your next class even better.

Wendy Batts
Fitness Specialist

Absolutely! Yoga is a form of exercise that can be more demanding than it looks as getting into and holding the various poses require a certain amount of isometric (static) strength and flexibility. With that being said, it is important that you work within your body’s limits. Do not stretch or reach to a point of pain during your session and be sure to maintain the best possible alignment for your own structure, which your instructor can help with.

Yoga is great for introducing motion into the body provided it’s done with care and without pain. Speak with the instructor prior to class and let him or her know about any concerns you have with flexibility. It may even be a good idea to stake out a spot near them so they can keep an eye on you and make any modifications to your range of motion or change the pose altogether.

Yes, and a lack of flexibility is actually a great reason to start practicing yoga. The good news is that a regular yoga practice will enhance flexibility. Yoga poses work on both increasing the elasticity of connective tissues as well as the stretch reflex and other functions of the involuntary nervous system. Individual yoga postures and flexibility tend to evolve over time with a continued practice due to focusing on full breath, specifically exhalation which furthers relaxing and releasing into various deep stretches. This continuous stretching causes a gradual opening of the body, lengthening of the muscles, and lubrication of the joints allowing you to find more mobility in movement and deepening your stretching ability. Just as lifting weights builds muscle over time, a consistent yoga practice increases overall flexibility.

Sadie Lincoln
Fitness Specialist

Absolutely! Many postures out there have modifications to help accommodate for lack of flexibility. The great thing about yoga is that it is not all about flexibility and stretching. Much of yoga is about finding balance, strength and listening to your own body’s limitations.  

Try starting with a few basic yoga postures at home or taking the time to come to class early and address your concerns with the instructor. They can help guide you and give great tips on how to get the most out of every posture without having to force yourself into a pretzel.

Mike Allard, NASM Elite Trainer
Fitness Specialist

Absolutely you can! It's the same as starting a strength training program without yet being strong. Just like lifting weights will increase your strength, yoga will increase your flexibility and range of motion. Yoga can be practiced at all levels and abilities, meaning it is okay to start with less than ideal flexibility. It is important in yoga (as with strength training) to learn the basics and practice the fundamentals of proper form and posture. This will not only help increase flexibility and range of motion but also help prevent injuries. The beautiful thing about yoga is that it teaches you to relax into your stretches by focusing on breathing and bodily awareness. All in all, yoga is one of the best ways to increase and maintain flexibility!

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.