Yoga delivers a wealth of wellness benefits with increased flexibility being one of the more sought after effects. Much of the aesthetic-driven poses saturating social media posts demand significant degrees of range of motion. Alas, a common misconception has evolved that the more flexible one gets in yoga; the better and stretching is solution to alleviating aches and pains.
Thanks to integrated research and works from other fitness modalities, it is becoming increasingly important (for the sake of whole health and wellness), that a mobile body needs to also be stable. As well, proper tension balance across joint structures is fundamentally important in sustaining joint health and integrity.
An excessively mobile joint is an instable one. Stability evolves from the shape of bones, forms of cartilage within and around the joint, ligaments connecting bones as well as forming various types of ‘capsules’ around the joint, tendons (via muscles) crossing over the joints, and the interweaving layers and trains of fascia. Excessive flexibility can create laxity in the soft connective tissues leaving bone, cartilage, and other supportive soft tissues susceptible to injury.
Stretching isn’t always the answer. Most posture-related injuries and conditions are a result of chronic lifestyle and activity patterns that generate tension imbalances – muscles being short and tight on one side of a joint while opposing muscles are chronically elongated and inhibited. While stretching the overly tense regions may be beneficial, there is likely a more prudent need to engage opposing muscle groups to restore balance. Without this tension restoration (and changes to habitual patterns), the body will quickly settle back into dysfunction.
Let’s consider Downward Facing Dog and other classic forward bends that expand the hamstrings. It is becoming increasingly common to encounter people working through hamstring tendinosis – chronic tendon injury – at the sit bone attachment. One could mistakenly prescribe themselves more stretching in order to alleviate the symptoms and encourage recovery. However, a more effective and appropriate treatment (for most) is to significantly scale back the forward bending poses at the hip. Researchers are now concluding that the tendinosis often stems from compression-like injury to the tendons due to excessive stretching of the upper hamstrings. The shape of bone and the angle of drag of the tendon across the sit bones cause a compressive, cellular degeneration of the tendons leading to inflammation (to note: excessive sitting on the sit bones can add to this chronic injury). Resting from stretching the hamstrings and replacing those asanas with ones that add tension instead (i.e. hip extension exercises) is found to be a far more effective mode of recovery.
Just as the primary intention with yoga is to ‘unite’ and ‘create balance and harmony’, consider how the hatha elements (physical aspects) of your practice support that intention. Whole wellness is an interactive play of finding space and steadiness. Our joints bear significant loads throughout the day and while fluid range of motion is essential, that fluidity benefits from nurturing containment and a unified system of structural support. As we go deeper in the poses, allow a breath and moment to ask if this depth is truly serving the broader scope of benefits for us to be well and balanced.
Just as the primary intention with yoga is to ‘unite’ and ‘create balance and harmony’, we will consider how the hatha elements (physical aspects) of your practice support that intention throughout our Dubai 100hr Hatha Yoga Teacher Training on February 24 – March 7, 2017. This 12 day training is open to anyone who has a passion in yoga & active teachers wishing to expand their clientele base and introduce the grounding style of Hatha Yoga into their classes
“I’ve often been told that yoga is for everyone. As an aspiring teacher who’s beginning her own journey, I wondered about the accuracy of that statement, and the depth of knowledge necessary to assimilate students into a practice that was safe and right for each of them. I found, and began following Kreg Weiss’ videos after I injured myself. I ached for practical advice about the biomechanics of my own body, relative to my yoga practice. Thanks to the positive buzz about workshops Noura has facilitated, once Kreg’s training was announced, I knew I had to be there. He did not disappoint. He teaches with the same passion and vigor that initially captivated me in his videos. The information at first glance appears dense and complex, but he breaks down all facets of his seminar with meticulously crafted presentations that are chocked full of well-labeled diagrams, and his own personal notes to guide you through each discussion.
He injects humor and humility into every aspect of his training program. It is like having coffee with a friend; the crazy good kind of friend, that overflows with so much love for what they do, that their passion pours through them whenever they talk about it…you can’t help but to follow their lead.
Kreg also made it a point to make himself available for discussions, individual guidance and post-seminar Q&A. At some point in the training, we discussed meditation and finding that stillness in between everything that creates static in our lives. I find that idea applicable to what I’ve learned in his seminar. We covered many aspects ‘between’: the bones, spirituality and practicality, flows for mixed level abilities and posture levels conducive to different anatomical variations.
This course is beneficial for ALL yoga teachers. We preach within our community that yoga is in fact for everyone. In modern society, most have been conditioned differently, anatomically, by our ever-evolving social behavior, than those who initially practiced the ancient art. Kreg, taught me how I can better speak yoga to everyone, and for that I am thankful; my foundation in teaching feels solid and grounded” Brittany Beltram, RYT-200, Graduate of 2013 with Kreg Weiss in Dubai, UAE