Guess what happens when you touch your nose to your knees?

ENLIGHTENMENT, BRO.

It’s so weird. It’s like once you actually put your nose on your knees all of the secrets of the universe are just revealed to you. Everyone loves you. All of the dreams you’ve ever had are instantly manifested. It’s really like, the most incredible thing to happen, ever. So you really need to push yourself day in and day out to unlock this magic.

Right? How ridiculous is that. Why is it that when I teach forward folds and I tell people to relax and hang, and let gravity do it’s thing and breathe, do people grip and pull and hold their breath and yank themselves further? Why do we, as yoga instructors, push people further down? Are they not feeling the stretch enough already? Where their body decides to stop moving, shouldn’t that be the cue to not push further? What the fuck are we doing pushing people past their limit, especially when we KNOW most people are already doing it to themselves? We are reinforcing the stereotype that yogis need to be uber bendy to be “good at yoga”. We are reinforcing the assumption that deeper is better. We are reinforcing the fact that where their body naturally goes IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH. And you guys, that’s not ok. I’ve backed way off from giving adjustments, other than basic alignment or something “feel good” in savasana or pigeon for instance. Instructors, before you give an adjustment please ask yourself what the purpose of it is? What message is being conveyed to my student?

There is absolutely no good reason in the entire world that your nose ever needs to touch your knees. Now I know, here I am, preaching not worrying about getting super deep in paschimottanasana (or any pose, really) yet I post a picture of myself completely folded in half.  Here’s the flip side. I am extremely flexible because of a lifetime of ballet. Too much flexibility coupled with too little strength my entire life has created a whirlwind of problems in my body. I have a sacrum that rotates (yes, rotates), which causes major instability in my pelvis, my spine, and basically my entire body. I’ve spent the past few years backing off from opening postures and trying very, very hard to strengthen the supporting muscles. I still need see a chiropractor, a massage therapist, and a Rolfer regularly to help keep me as pain free as possible. So, students of yoga, when you see someone folded in half like you could stuff them in a suitcase, please don’t think that’s where you need to be. There’s simply no need for it. Consider that person may have issues similar to mine. Typically when one is that bendy, there is some sort of instability going on as well. You’re not a better person or yogi just because your little nose can touch your knees. Be where you are, enjoy the fact that you are doing good things for your body, and trust the process. You will gain flexibility in this practice over time, it’s just inevitable. But try not to rush the process or worry about what it looks like. It’s all good.