This entry was posted on Feb 6, 2023 by Charlotte Bell.
The yoga world is stuffed with flexible individuals. I’m considered one of them. After I first began working towards asana in 1982, it was thrilling to be concerned in a bodily endeavor the place I may really excel. Whereas I used to be an honest sprinter and lengthy jumper in highschool, I didn’t do effectively in aggressive workforce sports activities. My stamina has all the time been lower than optimum. However my hypermobile physique may do spectacular yoga methods virtually from the start. I loved the eye I obtained for being the bendiest individual at school. It wasn’t till many years later that I noticed that as an alternative of regularly pushing my bendiness, I really wanted to steadiness hypermobility with power.
In fact, yoga is under no circumstances about what your physique can or can’t do. There’s much more to it, for instance, the lifelong apply of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. Yoga is a lot greater than an train routine. It’s a group of practices which have the potential to rework our lives. The bodily apply is the “gateway drug” to the remainder of the system, if we select to discover it.
Bodily asana is the place most of us enter the apply. And it’s the place yoga begins and ends for a big share of practitioners. As a result of so most of the “fancy” poses require hypermobile joints, there’s a complete lot of emphasis on turning into ever extra versatile. However excessive hypermobility shouldn’t be steadiness, in the identical method that excessive stiffness shouldn’t be steadiness.
The Drawback with Hypermobility
I not too long ago started studying a brand new e book titled Yoga for Flexible Folks: Optimizing the Advantages of Yoga for Hypermobility by Libby Hinsley, PT, DPT, C-IAYT. I’m solely about midway by the e book, however I’ve already realized so much. A few of what I’ve realized confirms hypermobility as a contributor to lifelong bodily challenges I’ve skilled. These embrace tiring simply throughout train, labral tears, sprains and strains, complications and sleep challenges.
In line with Hinsley’s e book, there are different challenges as effectively that, fortunately, I’ve not skilled—at the very least to my information. These embrace pelvic ground and gynecological challenges, dysautonomia, muscle stress, impaired proprioception, altered interoception, digestive problems, and psychological well being and neurodevelopmental variations.
Connective Tissue and Hypermobility
Connective tissue exists in every single place within the physique. In hypermobility problems, that tissue is usually lax. Essentially the most seen signal of lax connective tissue in flexible individuals happens within the ligaments, the tissues that join bone to bone on the joint websites. The principle perform of ligaments is to restrict the motion in our joints. Hinsley writes: “Floppy connective tissue can’t transmit pressure throughout joints as successfully, resulting in motion inefficiency and muscle fatigue.” This, she says, may cause flexible individuals to tire simply throughout train.
I don’t really feel certified to get into the weeds right here about connective tissue building and properties. However I’ll say that Hinsley offers a superb clarification of connective tissue and the issues with laxity. As a substitute of attempting to recreate her detailed clarification, I urge you to purchase the e book. Even should you’re not hypermobile your self, should you train yoga, you’ll encounter flexible college students. Versatile individuals are usually drawn to yoga, as a result of so lots of its asanas spotlight flexibility. It’s vital that you just perceive flexible individuals’s distinctive points in order that you know the way to assist them apply in a wholesome method.
Easy methods to Steadiness Hypermobility with Power
Years in the past in a single workshop I attended with Donna Farhi, she urged hypermobile practitioners to apply inside their most edge. For instance, in Trikonasana (Triangle Pose), she urged us to keep away from inserting our fingers on the bottom, though our our bodies may simply go there. As a substitute, she recommended that we place our hand on a block in its tallest setting, or on our shin. Then she cued us to activate our legs in order that we weren’t leaning onto our backside hand.
This instruction utterly modified the pose for me. After I positioned my hand on the ground, as I had all the time completed for years, I may really feel my legs dropping power and disengaging. Lifting up greater within the pose allowed my legs to help me, which, in any case, is what they’re speculated to do in standing poses.
Hinsley explains that our potential to manage motion, and to maintain our joints aligned, declines at our finish ranges. Muscular tissues are strongest of their mid-ranges, once they’re neither at their shortest or longest. That’s why lifting greater in Triangle Pose feels a lot stronger. I started working towards all my different poses this fashion, going to about 80 p.c of my finish vary. After apply, my physique feels far more cohesive and secure than it does once I’ve pushed my flexibility. My nervous system additionally feels energized and calm.
Sluggish and Small: The Key to Steadiness Hypermobility
Hinsley suggests slower and smaller actions to steadiness hypermobility in yoga apply. Just like Donna Farhi, she means that as an alternative of going on to their finish ranges—a behavior most flexible individuals have cultivated—that hypermobile individuals transfer slowly into every asana. It’s particularly widespread for versatile individuals to go proper as much as their finish vary once they’re transferring by a fast-paced Vinyasa. As a substitute, she suggests transferring slowly and mindfully into every pose in order that we will understand the place the place we first start feeling a stretch. Then we pause and breathe into the pose on this place of extra refined sensation.
In my expertise, this fashion of working towards has advantages past merely defending our joints. It helps us turn into extra delicate to refined sensation, and subsequently, higher capable of look after our our bodies and minds. There actually is loads of sensation to be aware of if we keep effectively inside our finish vary of movement. Tuning into refined sensation unifies our our bodies and minds.
The Problem—and Profit—of Balancing Hypermobility
This recommendation is usually a tall order for a lot of flexible practitioners. I resisted Donna’s recommendation for years when she recommended I curb my enthusiasm for fancy poses and focus as an alternative on stability. In most quarters of the yoga world, hypermobile practitioners are lauded for his or her pretzel-like prowess. Hypermobile Instagram yoga stars garner 1000’s of likes. The flexibility to do issues that few others can try, by advantage of our distinctive genetics, turns into part of our id. That’s not straightforward to half with. Typically it takes power ache or repeated accidents to encourage flexible individuals to decelerate and apply with care.
It’s useful to do not forget that asana apply is supposed to advertise steadiness—within the bodily construction, the nervous system and in the end, within the thoughts and coronary heart. After we apply asana with a watch towards balancing mobility and stability, we will domesticate steadiness in all features of ourselves.
About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell found yoga in 1982 and commenced instructing in 1986. Charlotte is the writer of Conscious Yoga, Conscious Life: A Information for On a regular basis Apply and Yoga for Meditators, each printed by Rodmell Press. Her third e book is titled Hip-Wholesome Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Information to Defending the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Ache (Shambhala Publications). She writes a month-to-month column for CATALYST Journal and serves as editor for Yoga U On-line. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte performs oboe and English horn within the Salt Lake Symphony and people sextet Crimson Rock Rondo, whose DVD received two Emmy awards in 2010.