I Am Not Flexible: Confessions of a Yoga Teacher

I am not flexible and I teach yoga. I used to feel like a complete sham, being a yoga teacher and not able to express full hanumanasana (the splits) …

Over time and with a lot of forgiveness, I have allowed this to become a strength rather than a hindrance. Due to an inability to demonstrate some poses in their fullest, I had been forced to improve my understanding of anatomy, my communication skills,
i am not flexible
and my explanations of postures. Comprehensible and down-to-earth analogies were needed in order to safely guide students in an out of complicated asana.
I had to let go of a tremendous amount of ego watching my students advance and surpass me in their bendtacular physical abilities. Rather than envy or jealousy, I was filled with enormous amounts of gratitude. It’s a truly humbling experience to watch your students surpass you. I felt privileged to be their teacher.
When my stiff body does manage a touch of suppleness, it becomes a fantastic victory. Years ago, while teaching gomukasana (cow face yoga pose), I was demonstrating how to position the arms when suddenly my fingertips grazed each other for the first time ever.
I almost stopped the class to shout, “Hey everybody! My fingernails just momentarily brushed each other!! Wooo hoo!! Did anyone see that!?!? I am usually not a flexible yoga teacher”
Which would have been both inappropriate and ridiculous in a room full of clasped hands behind backs.
But there’s something more here: When tickling fingertips together draws such awareness and excitement, suddenly little things in life offer us so much encouragement.
This small victory made me feel like I could accomplish anything! The intense sensation of joy and triumph in that moment gave me so much empowerment.
Once I had let go of the goal-oriented nature of my practice and the negativity I had let myself experience for being Inflexible, my personal asana practice flourished.
i am not flexible
Today my yoga practice is about joy. It is about love. It is so much less about the asana. When I step on my mat, I close my eyes and I move my soul with breath and posture. I let my heart pour out on the rubber floor. Whatever I am feeling I just let it be.

I have become so much more compassionate and forgiving of myself on the mat that it has permeated other areas of my life too-less judgment, more being okay with others as they are. By allowing expression and removing rigidity from my personal yoga practice, my body has opened up as well.
Today, not only can I do the splits, but lotus, arm balances, fallen angel, full dancer, have all become part of my regular practice. Oh, and gomukasana too! I can totally grab my hands and even reverse prayer these days! I never in my life thought I would be able to express these asana!
For anyone who is not a flexible yoga teacher or student, step on your mat. Close your eyes. Take some deep breaths. Ask yourself, “what is possible?” You might be surprised with the results, I know I was!


Lauren Rudick

Lauren Rudick
Lead teacher and founder of Yoga Academy International, Lauren is a globally celebrated yoga instructor. She has been teaching yoga for nearly a decade and comes from a variety of lineages and traditions. Lauren’s appetite for yoga and travel are insatiable. She continues to study with world-class instructors whenever possible, all the while leading her own yoga retreats and workshops. Lauren has solid roots in Hatha yoga with continued studies in Vinyasa flow, Anusara, Ashtanga, Restorative and Yin Yoga. She is inspired by teachers who tell stories. She has studied under Seane Corn, Chris Chavez, MC Yogi, Susan Cohen, Nancy Goodfellow and many others. Lauren is passionate about sharing yoga from an authentic and soulful point of view. She believes that yoga practice can help uncover the veils that hide us from achieving our full potential.