Is Flexy Sexy?
Increased flexibility is typically the first reported benefit of someone who is new to a yoga practice. Although it may be the first thing we notice it is not usually the whole picture of what is starting to happen in our bodies. A more balanced idea is to consider your range of motion (ROM) in a particular joint.
ROM is scientifically described as the measurement of movement around a joint. Your Physical Therapist or Physician would record this measurement in degrees. In a yoga practice it usually happens like “oh wow! That moved more today!'‘
What’s the commotion with Range of Motion?
ROM is an even balance between flexibility and strength. Both are important for healthy movement in a joint.
Check it out…
In Flexion, where the angle of the joint gets smaller, the Hamstrings are strong and the quadriceps are long. These two factors work together to give the knee a healthy ROM.
In Extension, where the angle of a joint gets larger, the hamstrings and quadriceps work reverse of how they would in Flexion. Strong Quads and long Hams bring the leg back to straight.
Simple enough right? Flexibility is only half of the equation right? Well most of the time. When we are talking about ROM we have to consider ACTIVE ROM, pictured above, flexion and extension. But there is also PASSIVE ROM to consider.
In Passive ROM the joint is moved by an external force. In the picture above the hand is moving the joint, in yoga, the outside force is typically gravity.
Within the 26&2 posture series there are 2 postures where this is happening. Fixed Firm Posture and Half Tortoise Posture. In these postures, be patient! Gravity will move your joints over time, but these are relaxed postures and they build a sense of surrender more than strength. Your body will still let you know when you’re taking a joint too far too fast, and you should listen to that.
One last point to make is that leaves 24 postures in the series that are Active ROM. It can sometimes be tempting, especially when you are tired, to surrender to gravity in some of these too. Be sure what’s meant to be long is long, but what’s meant to be strong is strong. If you have no idea what should be strong or long, ask your teacher. We are here to help you and keep you safe. Happy practicing.