This week, two brilliant doctors separately told me they are not good at yoga because they are too stiff. I frequently hear this assumption from patients. Yoga is defined as the union of the mind and body to become enlightened or to better contribute to the happiness and freedom of others. That being clarified, stiffness should not prevent one from the practice of yoga. The classic 84 yoga poses or asana where thought to be originally created so that one can learn to sit firm and comfortably in order meditate at ease. Hey, how many of us would like to learn to sit comfortably aligned for a full day at our workstation?
Yoga will give you any result you intend if you do it long enough. What you are thinking about when you perform an action will determine the result of that action. You become what you contemplate. If you want yoga (the practice) to bring you to Yoga (the goal—enlightenment), then the intention underlying your practice must be Yoga. You are not going to achieve Yoga as your goal accidentally—you must desire it with your whole being. Those who are stiff will become less stiff. With more practice they will no longer be stiff. Continued practice will make them loose. Even more training will change the poses from difficult to easy, from shallow to deeper.
Suggestion: You may attend a class with the one intention of learning or growing loose. A “stiff” may aim to become less stiff or loose. This goal will not be achieved after the first session. Think that you will become loose after weeks, months or even years.
Yard by yard, life is hard. Inch by inch, life is a cinch. You should not attempt to actually perform any pose perfectly. You should perform the pose within your own comfort zone using props for support when necessary. You want to respect your restrictions and honor your limitations. By forcing the pose deeper one may stay stiff or even become stiffer. When moving within the comfort zone, the pose eventually becomes easier over time and even later on, elegant. Challenge yourself to be patient and you will grow. One day in the future IT will dawn upon you that used to be stiff. That is learning.
Yoga can be easier than you think with greater results than you can imagine.