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Yin poses going past ROM

 
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plikk



Joined: 23 Jan 2019
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Jan 23, 2019 5:38 pm    Post subject: Yin poses going past ROM Reply with quote

I will try to make this as concise as possible. I have recently been involved with a conversation about yin, in particular relating to this article

https://www.yinyoga.com/newsletter32_hypermobility.php?fbclid=IwAR0HyAlAmnE9nAHpPuKiZ_Jkcnz6cp4tXhcz_WAJ_9fsGgnzw8n6DCMOSd8#fn4

I generally viewed my companions comments with scepticism. Nonetheless, as I am on a course which is examining poses from a biomechanical POV and assessing how we can safely move ourselves and our students through a practice, I thought I should examine the issue with an open mind.

This sentence in particular was derided: "Indeed, there are no postures in Yin Yoga that will take a very flexible student anywhere near her end ranges of motion." It was also pointed out that it was unfair of you to compare advanced ashtanga to yin and conclude that yin is safer.

What is the target of Yin for someone who can easily get into a given pose, and how is this explained to them? Even if Bernie is writing about it, is it being taught on the ground? How much should proprioception determine how "deep" we go in a pose, as opposed to being aware of our own functional range of motion?

My first reaction is to disagree with the class consensus as I see answers to most of their judgements in the article. But I don't know how to articulate this. (And don't plan to run back to them with anything that might be said here). Can anyone speak to my questions?

Thank you!
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1035
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2019 4:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi - thanks for your comments. Let me first, let me remind you (and your classmates) of the thesis of my article, which is - Yin Yoga can be safe for some people who are hypermobile. I offer this statement in opposition to the belief of many teachers that Yin Yoga is dangerous for hypermobile students. I agree that it could be dangerous for some of these students, but it depends upon why they are hypermobile.

Since writing this article, I have found another way to explain my position. In general there are 3 main causes of hypermobility

1) A connective tissue disorder (such as Ehlers Danlos or Marfan syndrome)
2) A joint injury (which allows the bones to move into hyperextension)
3) The particular shape, size and orientation of the bones.

For anyone with the first 2 causes of hypermobility, they should be very cautious of any form of yoga: Yin Yoga may indeed be dangerous for them, but so too could Ashtanga, Bikrams, Iyengar, etc. However, for students whose hypermobility is due to the unique shape of their bones, none of these yoga practices are inherently dangerous. Their hypermobility is safe, natural and normal for them. Consider Cirque du Soleil contortionists: they have their amazing ranges of motions due to their bones. They are strong, stable and mobile. To say that these performers can not do Yin Yoga or any form of yoga is to deny their uniqueness.

Now, to your points: you said that your classmates derided the statement "Indeed, there are no postures in Yin Yoga that will take a very flexible student anywhere near her end ranges of motion.” I am not sure where their derision comes from. Did they offer any Yin Yoga posture that takes a flexible student to her/his edge? Again, we are talking about flexible/hypermobile students, not average students. Certainly, there are Yin Yoga postures that can and should take many students to their edges and that is safe for these students, as long as they pay attention and don’t go into pain. But hypermobile students have, by definition, much more flexibility. Yin Yoga postures will not challenge them. But, even if they did—so what? If they are hypermobile because of their bones, going to their edge is healthy for their tissues and joints. Everyone needs to stress these areas. If they are hypermobile because of the first 2 causes, then—yes, they shouldn’t do Yin Yoga, or any yoga, without a lot of care and attention.

Your second point was “What is the target of Yin for someone who can easily get into a given pose, and how is this explained to them?” There are many reasons for people to do yoga beyond building flexibility. (I am surprised that a yoga teacher course doesn’t recognize this!) Yoga originated as a meditation practice and still has all the mindfulness and energetic benefits even if someone is not at an extreme range of motion. I have often had dancers, gymnasts and even Cirque du Soleil performers in my classes. These people are not coming to class to get more mobility, but to relax, chill, be present or work their energy bodies. But even in the physical domain, Yin Yoga is beneficial for flexible people even without going to their ultimate edge: any stress to the tissues is healthy. These people don’t want more range of motion, but they do want to keep what they have and ensure that their joints, fascia, etc don’t atrophy. While in the postures they can work on their breath and their mindfulness while still getting some stress in the body.

You also mentioned this comment: "Even if Bernie is writing about it, is it being taught on the ground?” Well, it is hard to comment on this and I am not sure anyone can prove what is happening either way. I have seen no studies saying that most Yin Yoga teachers don’t follow their Yin Yoga training (or haven’t even taken any training.) I am sure there are some, maybe many! But that is true of all styles of yoga. The fact that some teachers may be unsafely teaching the practice does not imply that the practice is in error. So, what is the point of their comment?

You also stated that I am treating Ashtanga unfairly. In what way? Does anyone dispute that the postures in Ashtanga are more challenging, requiring more range of motion, than in Yin Yoga? I did say, for hypermobile students, Yin Yoga will be safer precisely because they won’t be taken to their end range of motion. This is true, or do some of your classmates deny this? If it is true, why is it “unfair” of me to compare Yin Yoga to Ashtanga (and to advanced Iyengar, by the way.) My point here is, if Yin Yoga is dangerous for hypermobile students, so too must Ashtanga and Iyengar yoga be dangerous. If those aren’t, how can Yin Yoga be?

Finally, you ask “How much should proprioception determine how "deep" we go in a pose, as opposed to being aware of our own functional range of motion?” This is an excellent question! Many beginners to yoga have no interoception and cannot feel what is happening inside. But, they can almost all feel pain. That is their starting point. If a posture creates pain, while in the pose, or when coming out of the pose, or in the next day or two, they probably went too far. With attention and intention they can develop this inner wisdom (interoception) and not go so deep. In time, they will start to attend to other sensations, especially if the teacher guides them. Building this inner awareness is a great gift from the teacher to the student. What are they feeling? Where? For beginners with little or no interoception, students will have to rely on the teacher and other cues to ensure they don’t go too far. But in time, they should learn how to do this for themselves.

I hope these thought helps! If not, please let me know.
Cheers
Bernie
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plikk



Joined: 23 Jan 2019
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 12:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bernie.

Thanks for your thoughtful response. I am going to leave most of those points behind, as they are not my own experience or beliefs.

There are still some points of contention that I am not understanding. I am taking this question to the teacher of the course as well, but would love to get your take?

You say that taking joints to their full ROM is necessary and healthy, if a person is hypermobile from birth. The argument coming from the other side is that this is something that should only be explored carefully in a controlled one-on-one environment and completely inappropriate to teach in a group setting.

Why, in your opinion, would a person argue that anything past ROM is unhealthy?
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Bernie



Joined: 23 Sep 2006
Posts: 1035
Location: Vancouver

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 1:31 am    Post subject: When is it too far? Reply with quote

Hello again.

I will assume we are talking about the 3rd condition that creates hypermobility (as I have already agreed that anyone with the other 2 conditions should be careful of any movements.) Do you agree with that? If so, then it is good to make clear when you are talking to the folks in your course that you are only referring to students who have the bone shapes to move beyond what is considered normal, not that they are doing so due to a disease, injury or other condition.

Let us use the elbow as an illustrative example: when we extend the arm at the elbow we are stopped either by tension in the bicep (very rarely!) or by the bones coming into contact, especially the olecranon of the ulna hitting the back of the olecranon fossa (divot) of the humerus. When these two bones compress into each other, you have reached your end range of motion. For some people, those having shallow fossa and large olecranon, this contact occurs early which prevents them from moving their arm to straight. They may be stopped at 150 degrees or even less. They are considered hypomobile. But, they have used up their full range of motion, the bones are hitting and no one says to them “Oh, you better microbend your elbows because you are stressing your elbow joint!” In fact, teachers will encourage them to straighten their arms, not understanding why they can’t.

On the other hand, there are students with deep fossas and smaller olecranons, which allow them to open their arms past 180 degrees, maybe to 200 or more! They too go to where their bones compress into each other, but because they are past 180 they are called hypermobile. Again, this is not due to disease or injury, this is just what their anatomy allows them. They will often be told to “Oh, you better microbend your elbows because you are stressing your elbow joint!” And yet, they have just used up their full range of motion.

And then there are the “normal” people who extend their arms to exactly 180 degrees. Again, they too are stopped by the bones hitting each other, but no one really worries about them going to their end range of motion. Why is it okay for these students and the hypomobile students to go to their end ranges of motion but not the hypermobile student?

The debate rages when the hyperextended student puts a load on her arms. Now teachers will be concerned that she is putting too much stress into the joint. Well, maybe she is? But, maybe she isn’t. A teacher can not tell by just looking: the student will have to be trained to sense what is happening. If there is no pain while in the pose, or when coming out, or over the next day or two, this was probably a very healthy place to be. All bones need stress to stay healthy. If you prevent students from going to their end range of motion where the bones are compressing into each other, when are you going to stress those bones? With no stress, there is atrophy. (Wolff discovered this in the 1800s and a law was named after him: Wolff’s law.)

I believe that every student (hypo, normal or hypermobile) should be taught how to sense what is going on in their bodies. This can and should be done in group classes. Hypo and normal students go to their end range of motion in lots of poses: they should be trained to sense this and make sure it is okay for them. So too with hypermobile students. Fear of going to far usually stops them because they look different from everyone else, but that is applying aesthetics not function. If they never stress their joints, they will atrophy. With the intention of non-harming the teacher urges them to not go to their natural limit, but that advice actually does harm to the student.

Cheers
Bernie
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plikk



Joined: 23 Jan 2019
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed Jan 30, 2019 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you Bernie, again.

I never considered that I tell my students to "straighten their arm and reach the fingertips up", yet not consider the effort they may be putting into hitting that 180 degree ROM and yet I think it * looks * healthy. Paradigm shifting.

OK well, thank you. I've got a bit of a fuzzy head with all of this. My lack of proper anatomy training as a yoga teacher has never been more apparent. Continuing to dig. Really appreciate your input and openness.
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