The short answer is: yes, yoga is for you. I am writing this article because misunderstanding abounds about who exactly yoga is for. I know that all the big forms of fitness say that their way is also for you, too. Well, I’m here to tell you that yoga actually IS for you. Here’s why.
Even if you are severely overweight, have not exercised regularly for years, and know nothing about yoga, there is no reason why a decent yoga instructor should not be able to work with you. The problem, in that situation, is not the student; it is the teacher. Too many yoga instructors rely on cookie-cutter students who understand the poses completely and who resemble the cookie-cutter, 105-pound girl in Lululemon clothing who has been doing yoga for years. (No disrespect to you ladies, because I love you all.) It’s not really their faults for not knowing how to deal with you, as they probably don’t have any experience with it, but there should at least be a significant amount of yoga instructors well-versed enough in yoga to be able to provide modifications or instructions for somebody who is new, inflexible, and out of shape.
Secondly, yoga is a low-impact form of exercise. Other forms of exercise, like CrossFit or running, are way too hard on the body of someone who has only recently decided to become active. If you start off exercising with CrossFit or running, you are much more likely to injure yourself than actually get back in shape. This is why yoga is awesome. Low-impact means that even if you don’t have the bone density or muscle, you will still be able to work your way through the poses the best you can, pause when it becomes too difficult, and make modifications when necessary as you progress through the workout in order to help you reach your fitness goals. Other forms of exercise are too “all or nothing”, and can be extremely dangerous for sedentary folk.
Thirdly, yoga is the full spectrum of fitness, meaning that by doing yoga, you can cover all of your physical needs. You can use yoga to get in the shape that you want to, and then if you don’t enjoy yoga, by all means, go try something else. Play intramural sports. Try out for the NFL. Go challenge Rich Froning (CrossFit reference). Just remember that for yoga, you don’t need to be able to touch your toes. You don’t need to be able to bench 225 pounds. You don’t need to be able to jump a 24″ box. All you need to be able to do is have the mental fortitude to try your best and not get frustrated. More than that, the only body weight that you will have to lift is your own. Yoga simultaneously builds strength and repairs the body. It is truly a fascinating form of fitness.
If you still don’t think that you are ready for yoga, take it back to basics: walking. Walk for 30 minutes a day. Build up your ability to control your body. Make it remember what it feels like to be active. Get your heart rate up. But get on a mat sooner or later. The only person that you are really hurting when you say that “yoga is not for me” is yourself. Most importantly, keep in mind that you only have ONE body. Don’t give up on it. I’m not going to either.