Reposting this information from Denise.
“So a dear student came to ask me about the problems she is having with her hips. She has a lot of difficulty stabilizing in single leg standing poses, and usually immediately falls out of the pose.
She has had “problems with pain in her hips and pelvis” for many years and has been told she is hyper-mobile (very flexible) in her hips.
In single leg poses it feels like her thigh bone (femoral head) is going to sink into her pelvis (acetabular cavity or joint socket).
She only has this problem when she is trying to stabilize on one leg, she has no problems with Yin classes though because they don’t do single leg standing balances or strengthening postures.
Consequently, she mainly sticks to hot Yin classes.
She also mentioned that she doesn’t really “feel a stretch” no matter how “deep” she goes in the hot Yin postures, but often has two or more days of soreness after.
I wish I had a dime for every time I have heard this story!!
She is living the “perfect storm” that so many women are caught up in through the propagation of inaccurate information and marketing!!!
Allow me to list what’s happening here:
1. Hip hypermobility means you already have more than “optimal” range of motion around your hips – that doesn’t mean you can do the splits in all directions – but it means that at least in certain directions you will have way more range of motion (flexibility) than you can stabilize.
Someone who has hypermobile hips needs to work on hip STABILITY not “stretching”!! Think that isn’t you??? More than 13% of women have hypermobile hips, and a smaller percent have actual connective tissue disorders that lead to hypermobile hips. At least half of the students in your class are from this group!!
2. The fact that you can’t “feel the stretch” should tell you that you do not need it.
Taking regular Hot Yin practices is like “doubling down” on creating more hip dysfunction.
Here’s why: Anyone taking a hot deep passive stretching class (like Yin) is going to have “desensitized” muscle stretch receptors while in the heat (the receptors that are supposed to warn you when you are going too far and possibly injuring the joint) – because that is one of the effects of heat on the nervous system.
That’s largely why everyone feels more “bendy” in a hot class – though this is deceptive because you will be just as “stiff” when your body recovers its normal temperature – as people who have very fibrous connective tissues (such as team sport athletes) will tell you!!
HOWEVER – public service announcement!!!!!
For those who are hyper-mobile it’s downright dangerous. Their less fibrous more watery connective tissues are easily exploited in a hot environment!
They are already have less sensitive stretch receptors and proprioceptors, so they won’t have any warning, during class, that they are starting to damage the tissue.
The stiffness and pain they feel the day after is more likely an inflammatory response in the tissues around the joint, but the joint cartilage tissues themselves are not innervated for pain – so you won’t know when you are starting to do damage that the joint won’t be able to recover from (cartilage is notoriously slow to heal and often cannot be healed without surgical intervention).
Mistaking the “soreness” you feel days after a hot Yin class for “tight” muscles that need to be stretched again is a big mistake!
The muscles around a unstable joint can get very “grippy” because the nervous system hates instability, and will try it’s best to create stability somehow, even if it means giving you pain or locking down the joint altogether.
3. We need to stop “deifying” extreme flexibility!!
Not taking classes where you work on the things that are difficult for you is going to prevent you from using your valuable time and resources to actually balance and strengthen your body.
Postures like single leg standing balances help ensure you will be able to walk in your senior years!! It’s a skill that preserves hip function – it’s worth practicing!!
Deep hip opening postures may make it more likely you will need a walker or hip surgery. No one in their 80s cares about how “open” their hips are!! If they can walk, they can live.
I know there are many teachers who guide their students to “listen to their bodies” and to “stay out of pain”, and to “respect your limits”. That is in an effort to mitigate possible injuries and put the onus back on the student for the “outcomes” they get.
The problem with that is when you are dealing with a “dumbing down” of sensory information (which happens with high heat) the body isn’t “feeling” accurately, and so it’s not going to get the relevant info to you – everyone knows this!!!! It’s why people practice in the heat.
So, what did I tell this student?
Well, I encouraged her to work on stability for her hips and legs and pelvis.
I referred her to several of the postures we had done in class and went through how to effectively Activate her stabilizing lines.
I cautioned her about the number of Hot Yin classes she is taking and helped her understand how it might be affecting her function and pain sensitivity.
I truly hope she applies some of my suggestions – but I feel the yoga world is against me there.
As long as yoga studios continue to make erroneous marketing claims, and YTTs promote classes that will be sadly regretted 15 years from now, I am just one voice in the wilderness.
I guess we have to wait for more studies to be done and even more data to roll in about the injuries and surgeries yoga students and teachers have had to under go.
This is stuff we already know right now, but no one wants to be responsible or honest.
I’ve heard teachers say that studios want to offer hot classes because that’s what the students want.
Isn’t that the tail wagging the dog? That’s like giving a child as much candy as they want because they want it.
Are we not responsible for educating our students?? Are we not the leaders, the teachers?
If any of this is news to you, as a teacher, it’s just time to update your education.
Most teachers I know absolutely LOVE their students and really want to help them, and this is what it means – education and honesty.
Hey, if you actually read all this, THANK YOU!!!!
AND, if you want to express a different view, or let me know I am not alone, please comment!!!! XO