An elderly student who is overweight and hypermobile

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Bernie
Posts: 1152
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

An elderly student who is overweight and hypermobile

Post by Bernie »

I was recently asked the following question:
  • My client is significantly overweight and hyperflexible. At 70 years of age, she loves the yin practice, but I wonder if there are precautions I should offer for her yin practice? She says that the next day after practice her hips hurt and she gets a headache. thanks for your help.
    Barbara
Hi Barbara

First, may I refer you to an article I wrote dealing with the concern that hypermobile people should not do yin yoga? It is here. As you will see, there are 3 main causes of hypermobility: do you know which cause applies to your client? Depending upon the cause, you may need to vary the practice.

There is no practice that is safe for every body, but just because your client is older, overweight and hypermobile does not mean that she can’t do yin yoga. I would suggest you start with shorter holds (1~3 minutes) and make sure she is not going to her ultimate edge. She does not need to work on increasing mobility: she already has that. But, she can still enjoy the meditative and energetic benefit of the practice. Teach her how to attend to sensations: what is she feeling? Does she have any pain while in the pose, when coming out, or the next day? If so, she should back off and try different postures to work the targeted areas. Teacher her about the Goldilocks philosophy: being where things are “just right”.

I don’t know what is causing her headaches as I am not there to watch her and ask her questions. But, I do know that some yin yoga students get a headache when the try to lift their head up in Sphinx (Cobra) pose. This can create a very deep extension of the neck which bothers some people. For your client, make sure that she keeps her head neutral, perhaps supporting her head in her hands or on a bolsters or block. If her hips hurt, back off on the hip work and see if you can figure out which movements in the hip cause pain.

Good luck!
Bernie
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