Before you start to curse me or roll your eyes, I'd like to have a serious conversation about the practice of yoga.
Anyone who does yoga and probably most who don't, know that yoga is great for you. Taking the time for mindfulness has been linked with emotional resilience.
AKA, how well can you react to the stressors around you? And does it throw you off completely or can you shake it off and resume your daily routine?
Yoga has also been shown to help with pain reduction.
But, no, yoga is not an anti- injury practice. In fact, yoga can actually increase your risk of injury.
Most people describe themselves as feeling tight and needing to loosen up. They also feel that if they loosen up they will fix any nagging injuries and will also prevent future injuries.
There are a few problems with this..
The goal of yoga was never to give those who practice optimal joint health and function. Yoga poses are predetermined positions which goes against the literature of dynamic systems.
The intent of Asana or Hatha yoga is to prepare someone for seated meditation, not movement. You practice in the pursuit of passive flexibility.
Here is where things get tricky.
Passive flexibility is a relaxed position they you can put yourself in or that someone else can position you into.
Active is what you can do yourself.
Try sitting in "fire log pose".
1. Can you achieve this position passively?
2. Did you have to use your hands, bolsters, blankets, etc to help stack your legs?
3. Can you get into this position without the help of your hands?
In other words, passive positions are what you can obtain, it's your potential. Active is what range you own (have strength in).
Because strength is built only in higher muscle contractions, yoga doesn't create enough stimulation through your nervous system to build strength in these ranges.
When you put your body in a position it doesn't own with an external force you get injured.
When you roll your ankle in a hole in the yard or when you pick up something heavy and hurt your back. You might have had the flexibility to bend over, but without strength you have done nothing but allow yourself into a greater range in which you can get hurt. (Refer back to the bold print above).
So while yoga is awesome let's make sure we are truly understanding why we practice and what we will be obtaining.