Pins and needles, or a burning sensation running down the leg, or just a bit of tingling in the fingers? Many meditators and yogishave had them too: should you be worried? What is causing these sensations, and what should you do about them? Certainly, the way we move and hold our body can cause these uncomfortable sensations, but there may be a more serious problem lurking that you will want to investigate further.
These are my modest and provisional notes on the subject of hypermobility, the issues of flexibility in yoga, being able to sustain a yoga practice and specifically practicing Yin yoga.
When I first taught yoga in 2001, I did not know what hypermobility or being too flexible meant. I remember Richard Freeman saying in June 2005, “the curse of flexibility and the blessing of stiffness”. I didn’t get it at the time.
I met this lovely lady recently at Purple Valley where she had come to practice Ashtanga. I am all for mixing styles and finding what suits your body so when I found out that Magdalena was a famous Yin teacher and bestselling author I was very keen to interview her. She is so relaxed and full of enthusiasm, that whatever she is doing definitely works for her and maybe will for you too 🙂
Magdalena Mecweld is a yogini as well the bestseller author of the Swedish book “Vila dig I form med Yinyoga” (and the app with the same name). People had been saying to me for a while “you must meet Magdalena” and then recently by chance we were both practicing with the wonderful Ashtanga teacher Petri Räisänen. We got to talking about balancing Ashtanga with a softer yin style practice and I couldn’t miss the opportunity to find out what her favorite postures are.
Back bending with ease and grace requires that the Hip flexors (front of the hips), shoulders, and the whole of the front of the body are flexible and strong. Yin yoga is a way of opening the body with passive stretches held for a prolonged period of time. If practiced correctly it is a very sure and safe way to work on increased flexibility.
Padmasana or Lotus can be one of the most challenging and frustrating poses for a yoga practitioner. The ankles, knees and hip joints all have to be mobile and the muscles in the legs and the hip girdle have to be flexible. It is all too common for the knee to be injured trying to put the body in lotus before it is ready, so first a word of caution: take your time. There is no rush and it really doesn’t matter if you never ‘get’ Padmasana.
While I was in London recently I snatched the chance to interview Ashtanga and Yin Teacher Norman Blair. Many practitioners are drawn to the idea of supporting their yang predominant practice with something more restorative or yin. In this interview we discuss what is meant by yin yoga and how it can complement an Ashatanga practice.
A stretch by any other name Sometimes health professionals gnash their teeth when they hear a yogi say they are “stretching” their ligaments. They scream loudly that ligaments don’t stretch. We could quibble and say all biological tissues stretch but that would be avoiding their legitimate concern. Compared to muscles ligaments don’t stretch. But to keep ligaments healthy they must be subjected to stress by pulling on them. So what word might be better than stretch? A more appropriate word…
When working a joint the first thing a yogi or yogini must decide is whether she intends to work muscle or bone. She must decide if she wishes to strengthen the muscles that stabilize the joint or stretch the ligaments to increase range of motion. In this article we explore the second option: stretching the joints of the spine.