What should I do about my hyper-mobile hip joints?
Question 1: I have hyper-mobile hips, and as a result the joints are rather unstable. Balancing on one leg is very difficult for me, though I have no problem with arm balances. I know that continuing to strengthen the muscles around the joints will be beneficial, but are there any poses in particular that would help improve hip joint stability and balance?
Answer 1: People with hyper-mobile joints almost have it more difficult than those without because they are usually able to do all the athletic poses without too much effort, but the problem is that the hyper-mobile joints can cause injury. The challenge, then, for these people, is to tune in to the subtle body. No matter what pose you're in, scan your body beginning with the foundation, which is usually the feet. Always visualize a suction in the middle of the feet. This helps to engage the muscles and from there it's kind of a domino effect. The ankles will activate, the calf muscles, the thighs, the pelvic floor with lift, the abdominals will engage, etc. Follow the muscles up your body as you mentally scan and try to keep things light and lifted and engaged. For the joints where you're hyper-mobile, try to keep a little micro bend, and avoid locking the joints.
Like you said, it's really important to strengthen the muscles around the joints, and there are definitely yoga poses that will help like this sequence for legs and butt , and this sequence is great for improving balance. But the most beneficial thing, in my opinion, is tuning into the more subtle aspects of the practice as outlined above.
How do I know when to take my practice to the next level?
Question 2: Hi there! I'm unsure of how to know if it's time to take my practice to the next level or not. I'd like to eventually have a daily practice and maybe even teach someday. Lately I have been going to a mixed level class every other day and in that class I have been trying to do the "challenging" variation of the pose if the instructor gives the option. I've been feeling good about it, and I am wondering if I should try going to the Yoga 1 class or the Power Vinyasa that is offered. I know that I should of course, listen to my body - I also know that I have no background in sports or such; because of that I'm not sure what qualifies as "pushing myself" or what is normal when one is trying to go deeper into a practice. I occasionally get a good shaking in my muscles as I hold a pose, but I've yet to experience the 'sweat to the point where I'm worried about slipping' as I have read about from some yoga people out there - does that mean I'm not pushing myself enough? Thanks so much for lending out your experience and insight to all of us! And for this beautiful and inspiring blog.
Answer 2: In order to move deeper, especially in a more athletic yoga practice, it's important to find your edge. It doesn't matter how much you sweat (some of us don't sweat much no matter how hard we work). Instead, what really matters is how the body feels. "The edge" is that sweet spot between the known and unknown. That sounds sort of flowery and vague so let me break it down. Imagine you're working on side crow pose. People new to the pose can keep the knees bent. People who have a stronger core and are ready to take it deeper can try straightening the legs. But how do you know when you're ready to do that? You know when the beginner version is second nature. When you know the pose inside and out. So you find your edge by moving your feet a little bit and beginning to straighten the legs. So my suggestion to you is to find your edge. If you feel comfortable in the classes you're in and there is an option for a more challenging class, give it a try. The very fact that you're doing all this introspective work and trying to figure out what's best means you're already on the right path. :)
What poses should I do to stretch my stomach, keeping in mind that I have lordosis (swayback)?
Question 3: I have swayback (lordosis) and some yoga moves are very bad for that. I have just been diagnosed with stage 3 endometriosis which means I have adhesions as well as the endo spots. I had removal surgery in January, and now I am starting to feel the pains of the internal scars and adhesions being built back up. I have found there are yoga poses that help stretch the stomach area to expand and hopefully break up the scar tissue. The only problem is some of the poses make the swayback worse. Can you please tell me which ones would be gentle enough for both of my problems? Thank you so very much.
Answer 3: I think you might benefit from low lunge, gently pressing the pelvis forward (look at the first picture), and supported bridge post shown above. You'll need a yoga block for supported bridge pose. Place the block directly underneath the back of the pelvis so your tail bone is long.No matter what yoga pose you do, keep the alignment of the pelvis in mind. For lordosis, the pelvis is tilted forward, so visualize the tailbone lengthening down toward the heels of the feet. This will lengthen the low back, bringing it more into a long line rather than a backward letter C. Hope that helps you!
PS- More on yoga for better posture.
My hips cramp up when I do boat pose, what should I do?
Question 4: I love reading your blog - thank you for sharing :) I do yoga at home somewhere between 1 and 4 hours a week. I also run around 30 km a week, and I have tight hips and hamstrings. I find that I tend to get cramps in my hips, when I do poses that require strength there (especially boat pose). A lot of the poses that work the abdominals make my hips cramp. I don´t consider my hips very tight, I think my real problem area is the hamstrings. I enjoy all the poses that stretch the hips. And I have spent a lot of energy on variations of bridge pose to strengthen the pelvic floor (three child births, only one went easily), which I think has improved my strength in that area. Do you have any advice on how to avoid this cramping in the hip during poses like boat or build up more strength in the area?
Answer 4: Hmm, if you're cramping in the hip flexor in boat pose and other poses that work the abdominals, I think it might be worth looking into strengthening the hip flexors and lower abdominals. Above are two poses you can try. Breathe 5-7 breaths in each pose, and try not to lean back as you do them. Try to engage the core and use the strength of the abdominals and the hip flexors to left the leg. For working on core strength, I have a yoga for sculpted abs video, and if you're pressed for time you could try the (less than) 5 minute abs video. Until you build up the strength in the core and hip flexors, you can modify the boat pose by extending just one leg and keeping the toes of the other foot on the ground.
PS- More yoga questions answered.
PPS- Do you have a yoga question? Ask it in the comment section below!