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What to do when a student has lost her bounce?

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Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1073
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Fri Mar 09, 2018 3:15 am    Post subject: What to do when a student has lost her bounce? Reply with quote

I recently received the following email:
    Hi Bernie — I'm a student from your Spring 2014 training in Vancouver.... you took a very scientific point of view in the training, and so I want to ask you a question that one of my students posed to me. She suffered a broken lower leg near the ankle, but even though she was in a brace for 4 months she still came to yin yoga class and did whatever she was able to do (which pretty much excluded anything that hurt her ankle). She has been out of the brace now for several weeks and has resumed her dance class, which is where she has identified a very discouraging problem.

    Here's her email:

      After dance yesterday, where we had a really bouncy younger woman teaching, I realized that I have lost the bounce in step and was really stiff and almost awkward. I am barely able to do anything about it! I thought after my injury that I was just being careful and a little afraid of any pain I might get, but I realized yesterday that I wasn't loosening up and flowing naturally. Reading this article made me realize that being immobile for 4 months really did me some damage. But will yin yoga help me now? I almost didn't stop doing it during my entire recovery! Will continuing yin yoga and going to dance help me recover eventually? What else do I need to be doing? What do you think?

    So Bernie, if you have a moment I'd really appreciate your ideas about why this yoga student has this issue and what she might do to rectify it. I'm wondering if she should be practicing yin several times a week and/or holding the poses for more than 5 minutes.
    Thank you so much!
    S from Atlanta

As we age, we lose our bounce. This can happen through injury too, as your student discovered. Her main question is “will yin yoga restore her lost bounce?” Sadly, I don’t think so (but there is some good news ahead). Yin yoga is great for stressing our yin tissues and helping them become thicker, stronger and over time even longer, which we need as we slowly shrink-wrap with age. But in your student’s case, her lack is the elasticity in her ligaments and joints. Yin will help her, I believe, keep those tissues healthy, but the bounciness comes from the crimp in the collagen fibers of her fascia (think of the crimp like a series of w’s: wwwwww…linked together like accordion pleats. They allow some stretching, but are elastic so snap back to their original length. This is what gives us the bounce. Yin slowly pulls the w’s apart, which is great, but doesn’t rebuild the missing elasticity which is more of a yang quality (I should be clearer: I don’t doubt that yin yoga will help her, but not as much as the following practice.)

What your student can do, following the research of Robert Schleip, is some "fascial fitness" training. I highly recommend his new book, Fascial Fitness and his DVD (see a preview of it here). He recommends bouncing to restore bounce (kind of makes sense, doesn’t it.) Some examples are shown in the DVD preview, which your student should watch and then make up some movements that seem logical to her.

As always, start slow and see how it goes. These bouncy movements are not meant to be marathon sessions and Schleips says only once or twice a week for maybe 10 minutes or so is sufficient! No need to over do this. For you, as the teacher, I would really recommend reading his book: it is short, easily digested and easy to put into practice.

Good luck, and let us know how it goes
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