Are you one of those super bendy people? You know, someone who easily folds into most yoga poses.
Super bendy people are often drawn to yoga because the movements come easily to them, giving the appearance of being "good" at yoga. But did you know that for some super bendy people, yoga asana (the poses) might not be the best form of exercise?
I recently attended a webinar hosted by Libby Hinsley, a physical therapist, yoga teacher, AND super bendy person! Her own experience and that of the students she teaches and treats in her PT practice have informed her new book, Yoga for Bendy People.
I am in the process of reading this book and wanted to share a few takeaways from today's webinar. Keep in mind that each person is different. These takeaways are generalizations and may not apply to everyone. Also, nothing below is meant to instill fear about your practice. If anything below (or in the book) resonates with you, seek out advice from a physical therapist or yoga therapist.
Slower movements are preferable to faster movements. This doesn't mean you can't still enjoy your favorite vinyasa flow class. But move more slowly, being mindful of how you feel as you move.
Deeper is not always better. Since bendy people's joints allow for greater range of motion (ROM) and freedom of movement, they may reach end range (the furthest the joint can move) without realizing it and without the anticipated stretch sensation. The temptation may be to push harder in search of the elusive stretch, which can sometimes result in residual pain or discomfort for one or more days following class. Libby recommends instead moving slowly (as mentioned above) and instead of pushing harder, being aware of other things going on in your body (stress level, comfort, how it feels to not push, etc.).
Avoid excessive heat. Yes, a nice toasty room can feel great to warm you up for your practice. However, extreme heat may be contraindicated for bendy people, as it may increase the ROM available.
Add strength training to your practice: Weight lifting and Pilates are examples of ways to build strength and increase interoception (the perception of sensations from inside the body).
Explore aspects of yoga other than asana. The word "yoga" has become synonymous with exercise but actually physical postures (or asana) are a very small component of a much deeper practice. Meditation and pranayama (breath control) are two important aspects of yoga practice that do not include physical movement (other than sitting and breathing, of course).
So, in short, if you are a super bendy person this book may be a great resourse for you. Let me know your thoughts!