I managed to roll out of bed this morning & make it to my 5:40am yoga class this morning.
Yes, it's hella early, but since I don't have to be at work 'till much later I managed to get a workout in after yoga, get iTunes loaded on my new computer, get my laundry started, and prep my dinner for tonight! AWESOME!
The only other people that made it to the session were two older men that I've seen in classes before. Very few men seem to come to yoga class, maybe because they think it's not doing them any good (or that lifting obscene amounts of weight is more productive.) So I must commend these gentlemen for working on their flexibility!
However, I've noticed a pattern whenever I see these older men in class. Anytime our instructor says, "if you want to try a more advanced position, try this" - they immediately try and bend their bodies into a way that their limbs seemingly do not want to go. Our teacher attempts to stop them by saying gently, "Listen to your body.... if you want to ease off, you can still get the same benefits by doing a beginner version" - yet they still strain and grunt until they are into a position that less-than-slightly resembles her advanced example.
I've been doing yoga for a year now, and I wouldn't even attempt some of the more advanced positions. Mostly it's because I know that I would either hurt myself, or if I did manage to get myself folded around that way I would probably be doing it incorrectly (and again, most likely hurt myself). Oh, I'll give them a whirl every now and then, but I don't push something that just ain't ready to happen. This doesn't apply to all of the men, but a lot of the ones I'm referring to seem to see it as more of a challenge or competition rather than understanding what is best for them and their bodies. Women tend to be more flexible as beginners in yoga, and I don't see very many of them trying to force their bodies into certain poses. There are of course exceptions to every rule though, and I have even seen a man put his leg behind his head (although he'd been practicing yoga for years).
I guess my point is - that anyone can get to those amazing bendy poses eventually, as long as they practice regularly and work their way up to them. I actually saw a beginner try to put their leg behind their head once, causing them to topple over and bang up their elbow pretty badly!
Yoga is not a competition - it's about finding what works for you and your body, and getting in tune with everything that goes along with that. I'm hoping to one day be able to accomplish the full "Bird of Paradise" pose, as well as the "Full Pigeon".... someday. Right now I'm happy with "Tree" pose, and "Half Pigeon". I'll get there... :)