Thursday, October 15, 2015

Live Streaming Workshop Hang Loose - Joint Laxity and the Practice of Yoga

Joint laxity refers to joints that are unusually loose. While loose joints may sound heaven-sent to some, joint laxity can actually be quite problematic. People with joint laxity often live with more pain and fatigue than do their stiffer-jointed peers. There's even preliminary evidence suggesting that people with joint laxity experience more anxiety than the population at large.

Because joint laxity relates to mobility and flexibility, its incidence seems to be much higher in the yoga community. While joint laxity isn't all that common - about 10% of the population - yoga is one of the very few physical activities that actively rewards those with looser joints.  Because yoga practitioners are often encouraged to go deeper into more advanced poses, the yoga community seems to have self-selected into a population with a higher incidence of loose-jointedness. And by offering praise and encouragement to those who go more deeply into poses of increasing complexity, those with tighter joints are often subtly (or not so subtly!) driven away from the practice of yoga.

Aside from the encouragement and praise the yoga community lavishes on those with joint laxity, many other activities are difficult, if not impossible, for those with loose joints. In this excellent article from the BBC, the authors mention how joint laxity consumes a lot of energy. Because it takes a lot of energy for people with joint laxity to hold it together, people with joint laxity often fatigue very quickly. I've worked with hundreds of yoga students who have found yoga to be one of the few activities that didn't feel depleting to them. It's gratifying to connect with people who have found a path that feeds them, though it can be disheartening to watch so many yoga practitioners further destabilizing their joints through faulty practice.

Since joint laxity can be painful and fatiguing (and perhaps even anxiety-provoking), I believe yoga practitioners should be more aware of how to intelligently work with their joints. The old adage of more is better simply does not apply to joints. And with the increasing popularity of yoga practices that focus on opening the joints, there's now an even greater risk of further destabilizing these already loose joints.

If you're interested in yoga and are reading this, there's a small chance that the discussion of yoga laxity does not apply to you. But in my experience, if you've stuck with yoga for any length of time, you're more than likely on the laxity end of the joint-structure continuum. And for those with loose joints, the absolute last thing you want to do is practice in a way that causes further joint laxity!

On Saturday October 31st, I'll be leading a 2-hour live-streamed workshop delving much deeper into this topic. Participants will learn how joint laxity is not the same as flexibility, along with practical techniques for working with various degrees of joint laxity. The stream will be viewable on any computer, tablet or smartphone.

1 comment:

Rachel said...

"Blessed are thy stiff." R. Eischens

During the India retreat, remember your disturbed reaction re: my loose hip/knee joints?
Gotta say, after a complete tear to my ACL and partial LCL/MCL ..I'm starting to take that in to consideration. :)

Props to your wise decision in offering this.
Hope all is well.