The common misunderstanding of yoga as merely “stretching” can lead to some not so smart or safe yoga practices. Yoga is more than stretching. The definition of yoga is, in one word, unity (of body, mind and spirit). Without discounting mind and spirit, understanding the physical aspect of yoga will enhance the overall experience of unity. As you explore your body’s abilities on the mat, you will undoubtedly experience the sensation of stretch. Stretching has many benefits including improved circulation, joint mobility and muscle elasticity. Understanding the science of stretching will improve your safety on the mat and your enjoyment. Stretching Methods There are several methods of stretching. These include: Static – considered a passive stretch (muscles not active during stretch) but pushed to end range/tolerance. Passive (or relaxed) stretching – is a form of static stretching. However, with passive stretching, you relax into a pose letting your body weight, or gravity, stretch your muscles. Active stretching – is when you use antagonistic muscle groups (muscles that oppose the muscle you are stretching) or agonist (the muscle group you are stretching) to facilitate a reflexive response that neurologically relaxes the muscle you are stretching. Active stretching is accomplished by the voluntary use of one’s muscles without external aid. Ballistic – dynamic bouncing in and out of stretches These methods of stretching can be combined. A stretch can start out passive but then become active as you contract muscle groups while in a pose. Or, you may actively move into a…
Introducing Christine Carr, DPT, PYT and Smart Asana
Smart Asana: An Ongoing Blog For Asana Safety I’m pleased to introduced Dr. Christine Carr, DPT, PYT, our asana expert and safety guide for teachers and yoga students. Dr. Carr will be making regular contributions featuring asana-related issues that can compromise smart, safe yoga. I took time out last week to interview Christine about her passion and expertise around this topic of asana safety. As you will see, she’s sharp, deeply passionate and has much to share with us. Welcome Christine to Smart Safe Yoga! Dr. Carr’s Yoga-based Physical Therapy Clinic… creating the future of rehabilitation!
Smart Asana: Protecting the Elbow
Protecting the Elbow Complex During Yoga Hand balances are a common part of many yoga classes. We often place weight on our hands as we progress through our poses. We may move from a bird dog variation, to downward facing dog, to upward facing dog several times in one class. Whatever dog you do (or teach), the joints of the hand, elbow and shoulder may be at risk. Injuries (from yoga) are on the rise (1). The causes of joint injury may include: stiffness, hypermobility, muscle weakness, or performing hand balances improperly. We should not underestimate the importance our elbow joint complex has in the safety of our practice. Our elbow is situated between two mobile joints and is susceptible to strain. The Parts Like the knee, the elbow is considered a complex hinge joint. Like the hinge to a door, this type of joint allows primarily one plane of motion. In the elbow, there are 4 joints (3 bones) that enable not only bending and straightening (flexion and extension), but also rotating the hand up (supination) and down (pronation). These joints are respectively: the humeroulnar joint, the radiohumeral joint, the proximal radioulnar joint and the distal radioulnar joint. The last two joints are considered pivot, multi-axial joints hence the ‘complex’ part. The elbow joint is designed to be stable. In addition to a network of ligaments, there are 16 muscles that control movement in the elbow, wrist and hand. Seven muscles that cross the elbow control the elbow specifically, and the…
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