Yoga poses can make you too flexible?
Understanding Range of Motion during yoga poses.
So then we must ask during our yoga practice, if a joint has a less-than-optimal range of motion, should we do anything to increase the range of motion? This is often referred to as stretching or opening up a joint. If the range of motion is restricted due to weak and/or tight muscles and tendons, then the answer is “yes”: we do want to increase the range of motion. If the range is limited due to the body’s structure (the bones and the ligaments), then, the answer is “no.”
Most of us never become so flexible as to feel that our bony structure is limiting us in our ability to go deeper into a yoga pose.
Muscle is elastic and is meant to be flexible as well as strong. If flexibility is not maintained, the muscles will once again shorten. They have the ability to go back and forth from being short (inflexible) and being long (flexible) Tendons are the endpoints of the muscles where they attach to bones.
Like ligaments, tendons are strong but not particularly elastic. Tendons will stretch, but only so far before they too will become injured. Healthy muscles will have a balance between flexibility and strength. Overly flexible muscles without strength will not be able to support joints as well when they come under stress, thus predisposing one to joint injuries. Overly tight muscles reduce range of motion, which can limit daily activities and predispose one to straining or tearing muscles.
Can we be too flexible? Striving for more and more flexibility during our yoga poses and practice without a good reason may cause more problems than it prevents. So as yogis we must ask ourselves, Why do we want to become more flexible doing yoga poses? It may be because we are rehabilitating an injury, and that specific stretches will help bring us back into balance.
Or perhaps we are compromised in our daily activities from a lack of flexibility. As yogis our main reason for increasing flexibility during yoga poses should be, to be healthy and to be comfortable sitting in meditation. A healthy body is easier to forget during meditation than an unhealthy, uncomfortable, nagging one.
So how flexible do we need to be? That depends on the individual. If a person is healthy and able to sit comfortably in a chair and go deep into meditation, then being able to put his foot behind his head is probably an unnecessary goal. Another individual may be motivated to experience the subtle energetic benefits of meditating in the lotus(cross legged) posture. If so, then a safe and gradually progressive yoga pose practice of some of the deeper stretches may be appropriate. On the other hand, some bodies may not be meant ever to go into a full lotus position. Such differences must be respected.
How should you practice your yoga poses?
You have to know if oyu are already very flexible or not so. Most injuries during yoga poses are most likely due to pushing one’s flexibility far beyond the natural range of the muscles. The ligaments and tendons take the stress and become injured. It takes time to safely increase the flexibility of muscles; forcing a stretch is always a recipe for problems.
An example for forward bending or leg stretches;
If one feels the thighs stretching all the way to the knees, but not in the knee joints themselves, then it is okay. If there is some stress in the joints, often props can be used to alleviate the stress by decreasing knee flexion (e.g., sit on a cushion placed between the legs under the buttocks, or place a cushion between ankles and buttocks)..
Yoga poses and practice should bring our bodies and minds into balance. Yoga should help heal our knees and backs as well as calming our minds. The consciousness and intention of our yoga practice and teaching are all important to the results of yoga practice.
How can you strengthen your yoga pose practice?
Pilates can create the balance you are looking for.
If you have become too flexible you may like to try some Pilates classes for strengthening your whole body and keeping your ligaments, tendons and muscles strong during your yoga pose practice.
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