I have a bunch of friends who used to do yoga frequently. They volunteered at the studio in exchange for free classes. For them, it was a great arrangement. As an added bonus, they usually got to invite friends a couple times a month for a free trial class. I never went. Not once in about five years.
Why? Because I'd been trained to think that I would be bad at it. I am not flexible. At all. I look ridiculous trying to follow along with an instructor. And about fifty other reasons that I could list off the top of my head whenever they offered an invitation.
And then I tried it. My joints have a lot of problems and impact training can cause a lot of pain. I still wanted to work on my strength and general fitness though. So, I gave in and ended up in a yoga class. It was exactly as bad as I thought it would be. My knees were bent when others had straight legs. I had to twist into strange positions so that I could watch the instructor. At the end, I felt stupid.
But something else happened too. My body hurt--in a good way. My muscles were sore, especially though my core. I felt better too. I found myself standing a little taller and feeling a little calmer. It was a small difference, but enough to make me go back.
I am still not flexible. I'm working on it, but some of my tightness is going to take a long time. I still look ridiculous, so I try not to look in the mirror very often. Instead, I try to focus on my breath and the exercises I am supposed to be doing. I think it has made me a better runner as well. The added flexibility and strength training have definitely helped me keep things tighter while running. Yoga has also helped me recover from my bigger workouts.