Sometimes, especially if you are hypermobily or very flexible, it is quite easy to over stretch and almost sink into yoga postures. This might get you there quicker but will actually weaken the support structure of your joints – this isn’t great in the long run and can possibly cause a pinching sensation and or compression on important tissues.
You can correct and avoid this your self though and as a result still get plenty out of a yoga practice. Today I will just fly through the most common places we see this:
Lower back // when we sway into our lower back, we increase the curve and the amount of stress / pressure on this area. Pressure here can pinch and compress the discs, joints and nerves in our spine causing pain around the lower back and sometimes even down into the legs. If we are also compressing and loading the back of our body then the front has to accommodate so at the same time our abdominals have to lengthen and stretch – they ‘weaken’.
- Where we see it? Warrior postures in the rush to lift our chest up, back bends when we don’t have anterior strength to hold us, transitions if we let go of control to do it quicker
- How to correct it? Always lift from the chest and allow length in to the lower back, draw the naval in & up to support the lower back, encourage the tailbone to lengthen down if it flares backwards, lift the ribcage away from the waistband of the trousers.
The shoulders // Typically when we move fast we start collapsing into the front of our shoulders due to lack of support and strength pulling them back, when this happens we see impingement problems. Yoga is predominantly a pushing practice, most yoga classes are pretty bias to working the chest and shoulders rather than back of the shoulder complex – also a lot of us work at laptops and spend too much time in the car so we already have quite an anterior shoulder carriage.
- Where we see it? Chaturanga in more dynamic vinyasa classes, arm balances
- How to correct it? Strengthen your back muscles and appose all that pushing – add a lot of pull movements into your training outside of the studio. Move slowly and in full chaturanga avoid going beyond 90 degrees in the shoulders and elbows. Keep the chest open and engage the back muscles. In arm balances keep plenty of space between the hands so chest, try to avoid rounding in.
Hamstrings // Tweaking your hamstrings is a real bugger, because of where the hamstring inserts (on to the sitting bone) when we injure or irritate them they are very hard to rest, and therefore recovery takes a long time. If we spend all our time folding forward without engagement and control we overstretch this vulnerable area – and just like I mentioned with the shoulders a lot of us already spend most of the day sat in a position that its too loving to our body.
- Where we see it? Lots of forward folds, in fast paced classes again when your maybe not feeling warm and you rush into balance postures or the splits.
- How to correct it? Focus on engaging the quadriceps when you move forward into folds and work on strengthening through the front of the body rather than over stretching the back of the body. Make sure you thoroughly warm up when you practice and don’t rush or push – not worth it.