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Today I want to cover hypermobility and yoga. I find that many people who practice and enjoy yoga are naturally flexible. But should you modify your yoga practice if you have hypermobility syndrome?
Hypermobility and Yoga
Today I’m going to talk about hypermobility and yoga. This is an important, but often overlooked, health concern with yoga practitioners. Here are my suggestions:
- Determine if you have hypermobilty syndrome by taking the hypermobility test.
- Ask a qualified health practitioner (such as a Physiotherapist) or yoga instructor to evaluate your poses and look for hyperextension of joints.
- If you do not have access to someone with an experienced eye, do your poses in front of the mirror and pay attention to your joints.
- Pay particular attention to and be on the lookout for hypermobile knees and hypermobile elbows.
- Avoid “carrying” your hypermobility into your day-to-day movements and activities.
- Refer to Yoga for Better Bones to see if there are poses that you should modify or avoid; especially if you are concerned about your bone health and osteoporosis.
Hypermobility Test and Exercises
You can learn about the hypermobility test in a blog post I wrote earlier this year. In another blog, I speak about hypermobility exercises and suggest specific modifications you should make to your exercise routine if you have hypermobility syndrome.
Hypermobility syndrome is something I first noticed when I was in my yoga teacher training and I still see it every week when I teach my yoga.
I find that people who love yoga, tend to be people who are already more flexible than the average, so they have Hypermobility Syndrome.
They love to stretch. This makes them feel good, but they are not always the ones that need to stretch.
If you have hypermobility syndrome (visit my other blog article to find out more about hypermobility syndrome and the hypermobility test), it’s critical that you really assess if you have hypermobile joints. However, that can be difficult for you because you have a harder time feeling where your joints are.
In my yoga class, I specifically ask the students to try to maintain a certain pose in their elbows or in their knees. In certain positions and in certain poses I notice its it’s very challenging for them to maintain the pose without seeing hypermobile elbows or hypermobile knees.
Your Yoga Poses and Hypermobility
Some of you may have to take your poses and break them down and understand the details of your positions. Be mindful, work with a mirror, or have a friend or a teacher coach review your pose so that you learn the safe positions for your joints.
Take a pose as simple as table pose. If you’re always locking out on your elbows then you’re putting your elbows at risk of hypermobile elbows. You’re hyper extending that joint constantly.
You frequently see people do this with their knees (known as hypermobile knee).
You see hyperextension in poses such as the dancers pose. People take that hyperextension of their knees (hypermobile knee) and carry it through in their day to day life. They are just always hanging out with their knees bent backward — constantly hanging on (and stressing) their ligaments.
Yoga for Better Bones
Although this blog post is dedicated to hypermobility and yoga, there are further considerations for yoga practitioners with osteoporosis, osteopenia or low bone density.
I encourage you to read Yoga for Better Bones to learn about poses that you should modify or avoid if your have low bone density.
Yin Yoga Routine
You can also check out the bone safe Yin Yoga routine I created for my patients and students and readers of this blog.
You practice yoga to make your quality of life better, to make your body stronger, to help you with stress reduction. But for many of you, your yoga practice could be counterproductive to supporting where you want your joints and muscles to be long term.
I encourage you to practice safely and to seek out appropriate healthcare practitioners or yoga instructors to guide you through safe practice.