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concern regarding effects of sustained postures on ligaments

 
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lauraluPT



Joined: 03 Mar 2011
Posts: 1
Location: NY

PostPosted: Thu Mar 03, 2011 12:31 pm    Post subject: concern regarding effects of sustained postures on ligaments Reply with quote

Hi Bernie - Recently I have decided to get back into a fitness routine, and having done a little yoga in the past, was doing some research on yoga styles when I came across your site and yin yoga. As someone who has experienced the benefits of acupuncture and physical activity encompassing a mind-body connection (I was a gymnast), the concept of yin yoga is very appealing to me and seems to offer tremendous benefits. However, as a physical therapist I do have some concerns regarding the effect of sustained postures on ligamentous integrity. Now I have read some articles from your site as well as Paul Grilley's in connection with this topic. It makes sense that a certain level of stress is necessary to maintain the integrity of ligaments. But is there a risk of overstressing the ligaments therefore making them lax and creating instability by holding postures for such a sustained length of time? As we know ligaments are plastic in nature, and at some point once they do deform and lengthen there is no turning back. Of course there is always risk of harm with any exercise program, if the individual pushes himself too hard, doesn't listen to his body, is not given appropriate feedback/guidance from an instructor, uses improper or unsafe technqiues, doesn't respect his pain, etc. But putting all that aside, what makes this practice safe in that regard when dealing with connective tissue and ligaments? How much is too much?
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1073
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Mar 04, 2011 3:26 am    Post subject: Stressing Ligaments Reply with quote

A valid concern and one that is raised often: should we deliberately stress our ligaments and risking stretching and making our joints hypermobile? Before I get into this, please read the article I wrote in a Newsletter. After you read this, come back to this posting ...

The Goldilocks Position

What makes this practice and any form of yoga or exercise, safe is listening to the body and not going to far. Of course you can hurt yourself doing Yin Yoga, just like any physical exercise, but this does not mean one should never exercise. Exercise intelligently: with attention and intention. If your intention is optimal health, you need to stress your tissues, but not too much! Stressing the ligaments to the Goldilocks' position will stimulate the fibroblasts to create more collagen, which will make the ligaments thicker and stronger. And, over time, the collagen will be restructured to be longer, which helps to regain the lost range of motion that most people suffer from.

In your case, as an ex-gymnast, you probably don't need more flexibility, you need more stability in your joints. Here again, to get this stability you need to stress your ligaments to make them thicker and stronger. Since more flexibility is not your goal, don't go to your maximum range, but just go to the place where you feel something. Not too much/not too little. Or, in other words, if you are feeling it you are doing it.

Cheers
Bernie
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Yulaw



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 19
Location: North America

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 12:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

This has also beena concern of mine but after reading the The Goldilocks' Position and another article from Yoga Journal http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/580 that was sent to me by a friend I am less concerned

Thank You
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Yulaw



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 19
Location: North America

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have another question based on something I just read written by someone (A classical yoga person) on another Yoga site in regards to Yin Yoga.

What was basically said was that he did not feel that Yin Yoga was not as concerned with alignment as were other types of Yoga

He basically states that he did not feel that telling someone to flop into a position and hold it for 3 minutes was appropriate without proper alignment.

I do not wish to cast aspersions on Yin Yoga but I am coming off of over a year of being injured and I am incredibly trepidatious about any type of physical activity and really want to avoid any further injury. So basically I am wondering what you think about this.
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1073
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:49 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga and alignment Reply with quote

I would perhaps be concerned about attending a Yin Yoga class too, if the teacher was directing everyone to just flop into a pose. I suspect that whoever wrote the article was being sarcastic, if he did indeed use the term flop.

There are many styles of yoga that are not alignment based but are still very valid forms of practice. (Bikrams, Ashtanga and Kundalini, just to name a few.) The alignment based teachers generally come out of the Iyengar tradition and can be very demanding about their belief that alignment is super important and the only way. Personally, I believe that their intolerance towards other styles is not healthy nor helpful: Mr Iyengar himself is very open to experimentation and doing whatever is necessary to help the individual student, but many of his students (perhaps because they don't have his vast experience and talent) copy his instructions without understanding why he has given these instructions. Without this understanding, how can they find out what is actually best for the student in front of them right now?

Every body is different: you cited an article earlier by Paul Grilley. Paul has done a lot work trying to dispel the myth of alignment based instruction that assumes there is only one way to do a pose, that there is a best way to do yoga. See his Anatomy DVD or check out his web site for pictures of bones of different people: there is no way that everyone can do every pose and what is good alignment for one student is really bad alignment for another student. To give just one illustration: most alignment based teachers insist that the front foot in poses like Warrior or both feet in Mountain pose should always be pointing straight ahead and that the knee also must be aligned pointing straight ahead. These are good general directions but they are not universal directions. Some students have a torsion (a twist) in their tibia that cause their feet to point outwards. Trying to force these students to turn their feet parallel and pointing forwards means that these poor students have to twist their knees inward considerably, which is not only uncomfortable, but also dangerous to the knee ligaments over time.

Alignment is a good idea, but there is no universal direction for aligning a body that works for every body. Always is always wrong and never is never right. In my Yin Yoga classes I am concerned about alignment, but only with each individuals own particular alignment. I don't ask students to "flop" into any old pose but give directions how they might enter each pose. Then I check the whole class to see who may be struggling or confused: I then ask that particular, unique individual what she is feeling. Only she can tell me what is the right alignment or position for her. Aesthetics has nothing to do what is right: aesthetics just looks good, but it could be harmful. What are you feeling? That is the only way you can know whether what you are doing with and to your body is helpful or harmful.

It keeps coming back to your intention and paying attention. If your intention is to look good, then you won't care whether what you are doing is healthy for you. However, in your case your concern is for your health, so forget how you look in a pose and check out whether this pose feels right for you. Is there pain? Do you intuitively and instinctively feel this pose is just not right? If so, change it! Ask you teacher for some options. There are always options: that is why we have so many different poses - if one doesn't work, we can find one that does.

In your situation, I would talk to the teacher before class and explain your concerns and your challenges, then while you take the class, be your own teacher and doctor: continually ask yourself if this feels right or not. If it doesn't feel right, wave the teacher over. Of course, in Yin Yoga, you will be challenged - don't bail on the pose just because it is juicy, but if you really know that this isn't right, then act.

Hope this helps
Bernie
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Yulaw



Joined: 12 Mar 2010
Posts: 19
Location: North America

PostPosted: Thu Mar 24, 2011 12:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you very much for the answer, and yes he did actually say flop. His background I believe is Purna Yoga.

Your answer was very helpful, very encouraging and I am very happy with it if for no other reason than I cant do all of the Yoga poses that I have been shown properly by the standards of the teachers I once had. I baffled the living daylights out of a Kripalu teacher many years ago because I physically cannot keep my knees together and bring them to my chest due to the way my hips grew with a slight backwards angle. I also had an Iyengar/Integrative teacher that insisted that if I kept training I could get the proper alignment... my orthopedic doctor did not agree.

I truly enjoyed what I trained but due to my recent bout of injury and my past experience I have been a little hesitant to get back into it but now I do believe I will give Yin Yoga a try in April or July depending on which session I can get to

Again thank you
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