Many people think you need to be flexible, have good balance, be 'zen' or some other thing to do yoga. As you know if you have a practice, this is not true. I started practicing yoga because my doctor suggested it might be a good idea. I had had two summers that I spent in a hospital in my early twenties. At a follow-up appointment she brought in two very thick charts. She said, "one of these charts is for an 80 year old patient, one is yours. Guess which is yours." Surprizingly the two were indistinguishable. She told me that I needed to do something to do something to improve my immune system. My average diet and daily aerobics were just not cutting it. She said to try yoga, she had heard that it pushes your lymph around.
In order to push my lymph around I bought two yoga DVDs and started practicing them daily. I haven't been admitted to the hospital since, and although my practice is certainly not as frequent as I would like through chiropractic school, I still practice. I plan to continue to practice throughout life.
At school we have a free clinic on West Burnside street. Many homeless patients are treated there. A friend of mine had a shift there and told me a patient's story that I will relate to you here:
An elderly man came in and mentioned that his foot was bothering him. The intern helped him with his shoes and socks to examine the foot. What she found was toenails that had grown far too long. They had curled around his toes and were coming up between the toes. The toes all being cut by the edges of the toenails. When the intern asked how this had happened, the man answered that he just couldn't bend that way to cut his toenails anymore. Living on the street, he had no one that would do it for him.
For me, yoga started as a way to spend my summers in the sun instead of the hospital.
For this man, yoga could have saved him much pain and suffering, and allowed him the ability to cut his own nails.
Yoga is not about putting your leg behind your head or standing on your head for that matter. It is a method to stay present in the world, and that includes staying healthy and able.