Whenever you imagine someone practicing yoga, you imagine them twisted in some weird position or simply carrying the weight of their body with their hands and tucking their foot behind their ears. Yoga has earned its reputation of being a practice that requires a lot of flexibility. Many of its poses can be difficult for a person who does not practice yoga to even imagine. Such poses require a practitioner to use their joints’ full range of motion. So when you think of practicing yoga, you may think that hypermobility, the capacity to extend your joints beyond a typical range of movement would be an added advantage for you. Why not? The more flexible you are the easier it is to fold into different postures, isn’t it?
Sometimes, hypermobility can backfire. Each person’s connective tissue tone is different. Some people may have tighter connective tissues and some may have looser ones. Hypermobile people have looser connective tissues, such as ligaments, tendons, and joint capsules, due to which they are more flexible than others. Though hypermobility makes it easier to easily bend backward and touch the floor, it does pose a risk of destabilizing the joints. Hypermobile practitioners can often extend their joints beyond 180 degrees when they get into different positions. They may rely completely on the tensile strength of their ligaments instead of taking the support of the surrounding muscles. This can cause the connective tissues to overstretch with time and can destabilize the muscles necessary for functional movement. This does not mean that hypermobile people should not practice yoga, they should keep a few tips in mind to stay safe and strong.
1. Choose A Yoga Style Wisely
Choosing the correct style of yoga is extremely important for people with hypermobility. You should focus more on strengthening techniques rather than techniques that focus on lengthening. Hatha and power yoga classes may be a better option for such people.
2. Keep Your Joints Slightly Bent
Whenever you need to get into a pose that requires a certain part of your body to bear the weight of the rest of your body, you need to make sure you are not resting on your ligaments. You can do that by slightly bending your joints so that your muscles have to do all the work. Although doing so may seem much harder, it will help keep your joints functional.
3. Maintain Muscular Engagement At All Times
There are many poses that may require you to rely on your flexibility more than your muscles, but you need to improvise. You do not need to keep your muscles 100 percent activated at all times, but it helps to make slight adjustments to maintain some muscular engagement and to resist the full-range stretch of your joints.
4. Protect Your Knees
Whenever you perform bent-knee standing poses, make sure to place the weight of your body on your heels. Even in poses like warrior II, keep the weight on the heel of your front leg to keep the pressure away from the front knee. Letting the other muscles engage will help you avoid hyperextension.
5. Don’t Go Overboard With It
When you are hypermobile, you may be tempted to stretch as much as you can and would want to show off how you can bend into complicated poses with ease. You need to stop before you reach your limit. You need to keep in mind that you need to be more stable not flexible. Backing off at the right time can actually be good for you in the long run.
Whenever you perform an asana, it should be steady and you should be easing yourself into it. You can practice yoga regardless of whether you are stiff or flexible. Yoga is not about being able to fold and twist like paper, it is about being mindful, self-aware, and achieving a connection with your inner self.