My first online class is live, and why I no longer backbend.
The first of many! This online class is designed for those who might be looking for a little functionality in their practice. We skip the vinyasas and fast paced movements, stay close to the floor (for the most part) and spend a lot of time building a strong mind body connection. Whether you're new to yoga, or refining an long term practice, I hope you find some interesting shapes here. Read below for more about my existing practice!
So, a lot of my practice looks like this lately. I've loosened my grip on fast paced, flexibility heavy movements and left passive stretching for very special occasions. Why? Ugh, read on.
I have been moving my whole life! I began gymnastics as a child and since then have spent my life contorting, flipping, falling, spraining, jumping, swinging, and I'm honestly losing count of how many times I've been concussed. Despite my love of doing fun, flexible and risky things with my body I've also been in pain. For like... ever. I've seen chiros, osteos, physios, remedial therapists, myotherapists for at least 15 years and being sore was actually pretty normal to me. That is NO way to live!
About a year ago, I was trying to learn to balance on my fingertips. I couldn't figure out why I couldn't pull off the 'cupcake hands' thing. My fingers bent backwards in all their joints, and placing my entire body weight on them felt really, really stupid. So the google searches began, and after reading up on the Beighton Scoring System I figured out that I'm hypermobile. Most of my joints have a greater than average range of motion due to the connective tissue in my body being way more chill than ideal. Hypermobility is also linked to digestive issues, muscle and joint pain, clicking and popping in joints, anxiety, fatigue and varicose veins. At this point in time I was pretty bummed. I was sore, stressed, and fallen into the trap of google diagnosing myself. Oops. On one hand I was relieved to have found out why I have flat feet, why I'm exhausted, and why no matter what I did, why I was in pain! On the other hand, I was freaking out because I'd had to break up with the love of my life- Yoga. I was delving into the primary series of ashtanga and was stoked to be seeing progress in that practice. My hips and knees were killing me and I was worried I'd damaged tendons and ligaments surrounding these areas. I was.... so wrong. I sought out a physiotherapist who had some experience with hypermobility. I went in not knowing what my issue was and struggled to explain myself. In about 5 minutes he pinpointed the sources of all of my pain, and I was shaken!.One of the vertebrae in my lower back slips forward, which referred down into my hips and legs. I also had a 'dropped' right shoulder (and a few other things but let's keep this simple) which was causing my headaches (which I've had since I was a teenager). I was prescribed lots of shrugging for a shoulder, and was told to ditch the spinal extensions (yep, back bends).
I happily agreed, thanked him profusely and went out to my car and cried. I let go of ever catching my ankles in urdhva danurasana, standing on my head in scorpion and every urdhva mukha svanasana ever for all time. It feels dramatic and clingy now, but at the time I was devastated. So much for practicing non-attachment.
I'm about 8 months down the road from that moment of sobbing in my car. Since then, I have taken to a regular Iyengar practice (thank you Irma from The Yoga Co), I've incorporated strength training into my life and I've truely found joy in the challenge of moving slowly and mindfully. I smashed out a cert 4 in massage therapy, and have moved onto a diploma in remedial therapy, because I love knowing what's going on under our skin!
I still do yoga most days
Most importantly, I'm not in pain, and I realised I had no idea what life was like without it! When I start to feel it, I know I'm not moving enough! My body has been communicating all these years and I have been giving it the same treatment over and over and over again. Hypermobile joints don't needs to be stretched. Want to read that again?
HYPERMOBILE JOINTS DO NOT NEED TO BE STRETCHED.
Stretching may not be the answer if you are naturally flexible. Be your own biggest supporter and strengthen your muscles! I'll take active range of motion over passive anyday!
I'd love to know how you find this class, leave me a comment! I'm aiming to get one out monthly.
Love to you and yours!