Think you’re too flexible to reap the benefits of yoga? Think again!
Yoga is all about improving flexibility, but for those who are already extremely flexible or hypermobile, it can actually be quite a challenge to practice fully without injury. So is yoga as beneficial for someone with hypermobility as someone with little to no natural flexibility? The answer is yes, definitely!
Within your yoga practice, it’s important to focus on balance. For someone who is already pretty flexible, this means creating the body strength to pull and hold yourself together in the poses, both safely and effectively. Below are some tips for doing just that.
By Dawn Yager
1. Maintain integrity in the pose.
Always look at your yoga practice within the confines of integrity and finding symmetry in your form. Keeping in mind there is no end goal in a yoga pose except to be aligned, symmetrical, present and breathing fully.
2. Remain gentle and self-aware.
Find your edge in the pose and then back off about 5-10%. Not only will this keep you safe, but you will remain present and aware. One of the beautiful things about the physical yoga practice is while you are training the body, you are also training the mind and your ability to concentrate.
As you move into life outside of the practice, you will immediately be able to handle all of life with greater ease. You will become stronger mentally but also be able to move through difficulty with understanding.
3. Get back to the basics.
Ideally, the hypermobile student should keep poses less complicated in order to concentrate on good alignment. When a yogi is hyper-flexible, it can be challenging to maintain good form. Adding variations, depth, and difficulty to a pose only increases the challenge of maintaining proper, safe form.
4. Hold poses for less time.
Holding a pose for an extended amount of time may be difficult and unsafe for a student with hypermobility. Allow yourself several breaths – maybe up to ten – and then exit the pose slowly and with control. Being able to control your movements and transitions is key for the super bendy yogi.
Hyper-flexible people can experience more persistent and pervasive pain from chronic joint hypermobility, and are more easily susceptible to slow-healing sprains and osteoarthritis which is why it’s important to have a gentle practice.
5. Find a knowledgeable teacher.
While some teachers may glorify your extra bendy abilities, what you really need is someone who understands the body well and has a lot of experience with hypermobility.
You need to build integrity in your joint ranges. Restorative Yoga is a great practice for learning your own appropriate, healthy biomechanics. Once you learn how to listen to the body there, you can easily use that knowledge in a Vinyasa practice. It all starts with having a knowledgeable teacher.
6. Diversify your training.
Add resistance training and core strengthening exercises that will help you isolate important muscles and begin to build strength to better support your joints. As you increase your strength, you simultaneously increase your ability to maintain proper alignment in a pose and practice safely.
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