4 Quick Tips For Yoga + Hypermobility
As a yoga practitioner, having hypermobile joints may increase your risk of having injuries, muscle soreness, and instability when doing yoga. Hypermobility refers to the ability of a joint to extend beyond a natural range of motion. Although women tend to have hypermobile joints more often than men, it is not exclusive whatsoever.
If you do yoga and have a hard time practicing due to hypermobility, here are four quick tips:
By slightly micro-bending the joint, you can alleviate the stress and reduce the risk of overuse or injury. It is important to micro-bend the joints for the entire range of movement. For example, when doing Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold), gently bend the knees while you’re in standing and continue to micro-bend as you fold forward. The same applies when going from Chaturanga (low plank) to Upward Facing Dog. As you ascend, keep the inside of the elbows facing each other and extend the elbows just before you reach full expression. The soft bend in the elbows require more muscular strength to hold you up in Upward Facing Dog, but it helps prevent you from dropping a ton of weight into your hypermobile joints.
2. Isometric contraction
In addition to micro-bending the joints, the next crucial step is to apply isometric contraction in the surrounding muscles. Isometric contraction means generating force without changing the length of the muscle. A practical way to implement this concept is to think ‘actions’ and ‘counter-actions.’ For every movement you create, do a motion that would counter that movement. Here are some examples:
In Downward Facing Dog, keep your hands on the mat but push your hands out laterally as you draw the micro-bent elbows toward one another. We call this Turbo Dog. It’s an intense engagement for the biceps and the forearm extensor/flexor muscles.
When in Tadasana (Mountain Pose), slightly bend the knees, as you stand with the feet in hips width apart. Keep the feet on the mat and push the legs out to the sides, at the same time slightly contract the gluteus (butt) muscles and draw the tailbone down.
Lastly, from high plank to Chaturanga, start by drawing the elbows in, protract the shoulder blades, and draw the ears away from the shoulders. As you descend, keep the elbows in and the stomach engaged.
3. Move slowly
This is an important tip for yogis with hypermobility. You must MOVE SLOWLY, especially if you’re new to yoga or have less experience in body movement. Slow movement helps develop spatial awareness and body engagement. It’ll take some practice before you automate micro-bending and isometric contraction. So in the meantime, slow down your movement and enjoy the practice.
4. Be intuitive
The last but not least tip for you is to apply intuition in your practice. You’re going to want to try some new yoga poses, or a teacher may adjust you during class. If you sense a glint of hesitation because you think the new pose or the adjustment may add to your hypermobility, it’s best to stop. Make it clear to the teacher why you decline the adjustment, and chances are the teacher would understand and move on helping other students.