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Yin Yoga for professional athletes?

 
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1009
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Sep 02, 2017 12:38 am    Post subject: Yin Yoga for professional athletes? Reply with quote

I recently receive the following email:
    Hi Bernie. I hope you are well. I recently saw this blog where the write said, "Another style that I’m not crazy about – Yin yoga – is widely marketed to athletes. The deep, static stretches of Yin are intended to stretch out the connective tissue--including ligaments. I don’t agree with encouraging athletes to stretch out areas that provide joint stability.” I strongly disagree with the point on yin, I personally think athletes need yin, as all their training will be strength based and striving in nature, exactly what they need not just physically but energetically is to slow down and train in a yin way, I think balance it what leads to health and thats what leads to optimum functioning of your body and mind, whether thats boxing, playing football or running round after the kids all day. I just wondered if you had any feedback or wisdom or any posts on the site about yin and professional athletes, I may have an opportunity to teach some football players coming up, so just want to be as informed as possible I did a quick search on the site for football but couldn't see any posts.

    Paul Grilley has often suggested, when faced with such criticisms, change the phrasing to "we are applying a traction to the joints". People seem more accepting of traction than stretching: traction has a well-known history in therapy (although there is some debate over its effectiveness, this is not out of fear of harming joints.) But, again--my point is we are stressing the joints.

    I have bought your book as well, but havent started it as yet, YOUR BODY YOUR YOGA, I wonder if there are any section in there you could point me towards. Thanks in advance for your always generous advice.

    Carli

Hi Carli

People seem to forget that yoga works more than just the physical body. There are many reasons people come to Yin Yoga, even athletes, beyond the physical. Here is one article called Yin Yoga: a practice every athlete should adopt.

But let’s talk about the physical: “The deep, static stretches of Yin are intended to stretch out the connective tissue--including ligaments. I don’t agree with encouraging athletes to stretch out areas that provide joint stability.” This is an often recited trope against Yin Yoga. However, we do not try to “stretch” our connective tissues surrounding our joints, we try to “stress” them. There is a big difference. All tissues need stress to be healthy. I have written about this over and over and over again. If we never stress our joints, they will atrophy. Yes, we can do too much, but this does not mean we should do nothing. When we are doing active “yang” practices, we engage our muscles to protect the joint. That is wise…joints under load need muscular cocontraction to stiffen and protect them. In this way, the muscles take up the stress of the movement, not the joint. But, if we are not stressing the joints then, when? When can we safely stress the joints? When they are not load bearing…that is where the Yin comes in. In Yin Yoga the joints are not load bearing (no standing postures in Yin!) so it is safe to take them through their natural range of motion. You should not do this when the joint is load bearing, but to say "never let a joint go through its normal range of motion" is to advocate losing range of motion.

Paul Grilley suggests, when faced with such criticisms, changing the phrasing to "we are applying traction to the joints"! Traction seems much more acceptable than stretching due to its history use in medicine and therapy (although there is some debate over its effectiveness, but not over its safety.) But, again, I prefer to use "stressing" the joint because all tissues need stress to regain and maintain optimal health.

You also asked where in my book Your Body, Your Yoga you can look: check out the section on antifragility on page 28 and the value of stress on joints on page 57.

Many athletes do Yin Yoga and are the better for it. Some teachers however, who are unfamiliar with the real tenets of Yin Yoga criticize the practice more out of ignorance than personal experience. But, having said all this, there are always going to be some athletes for whom Yin may not be good…human variation being what it is. So, each student has to pay attention and notice what is happening.

Cheers!
Bernie
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JackTangles



Joined: 07 Sep 2017
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu Sep 07, 2017 9:01 am    Post subject: Cool! Reply with quote

very interesting! I've been doing yin for a little while now, is there any poses you'd suggest over others for a soccer player?
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1009
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Sat Sep 09, 2017 12:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, its all good. If the soccer player has some specific concern, injury or development target there may be some poses that are better than others, but you would have to be more specific.
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