I'm bendy. Not as bendy as I used to be--age will do that--but more importantly, I've been working very hard to become less bendy.
If this sounds crazy, that's in part because the Western yoga world glorifies bendiness--take a look at just about any popular Instagram yoga account or yoga magazine cover, and you'll see, over and over, "advanced" poses that require incredible range of motion in the joints.
What I've learned, through injury, experience, and tons of research, is that my inherent bendability--which has made yoga poses in general and many "advanced" postures in particular so easy for me--needs to be balanced by stability.
Shifting to a practice focused on building stability in my body has not been easy for me because:
- that glorification thing
- my body (and ego) want me to go as deeply as possible into a shape (what do you mean, I shouldn't palm the floor in Triangle?)
- when I focus on stability, which requires muscular effort, instead of easily finding poses through range of motion in my joints, it's very. hard. work.
First, some definitions, so I can stop using the term "bendy":
Flexibility: the ability of muscles to lengthen
Mobility: the ability of joints to actively move through their range of motion
Hypermobility: the ability of a joint to move beyond the "normal" or expected range of motion for that joint.
So what we often call flexibility is actually hypermobility. A deep backbend is only possible if the joints allow it. And the joints can only allow it if the ligaments around the joints--the connective tissue that is supposed to keep joints from moving beyond a safe and sustainable range of motion--are sufficiently lax.
Thus hypermobility is really hyperlaxity of the connective tissues.
Learn more about what hypermobility is, how to recognize it, and how to practice safely in a bendy body here at Yoga4Hypermobility.com.