Have you ever heard the expression ‘if your gonna be tight be tight on both sides’ ? 🙂
Think about it! One sure way your body will be MORE vulnerable to injury is the presence of asymmetry or extreme asymmetry. Add in lack of body mind connection (me when I was BY newbie) add force (often what new people do) and Voila! Increased Risk of injury in practice! BUT remember! It would be the rare person who doesn’t have a left/right side difference. Day to day habits, work patterns, exercise choices or accidents can help us acquire more asymmetry. Much of it is not extreme i.e. barely noticeable. Some more so. Whether your asymmetry is of genetic, accidental, neglect or functional origin, in class we try to develop our body mind connection to tune in to these differences and then effort (not force) to try to minimise/balance things out where we can.
If you don’t TRY to ‘correct’ you may have torque/twisting effect that increases over time creating inappropriate muscle contractions/weight shifting, exacerbating hypertensiob in some muscles and weakness in others.
Mindful Yogis you ~MUST~ GIVE SPECIAL ATTENTION to your existing movement patterns. PLEASE see if you have been compensating and address. This can be hard, especially if you are new to class with so much else to think about.
PRIMARILY YOU MUST KEEP THINGS MOVING to maintain your flexibility and strength. Conversely to what many people may think, ‘simply’ maintaining a full range of movement (in the right directions) can help keep you a lot stronger than practicing strength exercises can (I’m not talking champion strength here). What kind of strength am I talking about? Are you going to be entering a competition or are you going to go about your daily business as usual? I’m talking normal, natural, strong, flexible, healthy person here. Nothing fancy.
Many people in class are working to keep effecting their full range of natural movement. Many and more again are working to get theirs back where it has been lost. BOTH endeavours are IMPORTANT work.
Think about this, if your ankle doesn’t want to flex/bend (for whatever reason) the tight joint can shut down the calf muscle. If your hip is stuck then you cannot realise your glut strength. SO KEEP MOVING (under guidance of health professional if necessary).
“Yoga is innocent, Practitioner is guilty” Emmy Cleaves
If an ‘undeclared’ ‘distortion’ (for want of a more pleasant word) visually presents in class, sometimes (dependant) we might recommend a practitioner seek another therapists input e.g. a more formal assessment or additional treatment (physio-therapy, masseus, chiropractor, osteopath); this might be because we are concerned that practitioner does not have enough ‘awareness’ of their patterns… and may injure themselves through not working mindfully.
As Yoga instructors we don’t always understand in depth the way the other therapeutic models work but we are alert to recognise where the practitioner may need to ‘go external to YM’ to get help setting things right and we won’t hesitate to tell them we think they may need to do more for themselves than just turn up to their Yoga class. After that it is up to the individual as to whether they decide to ‘hear what we are saying’ and invest in themselves a little bit more. Such treatments do not come for free and most of us cannot have EVERY ’thing’ we want or need, we have to make choices about where we put our pennies and sometimes we sacrifice our health/wellbeing in making that choice. Making our living as Yoga instructors we TOTES get these choices/decisions; sometimes the money just isn’t there.
We cannot make people go and get a more formal assessment. Some may prefer to ‘plough’ on as they are and it might largely be fine if they are mindful (I have been working with my own mix of mild and more serious asymmetries over the years). Others may decide to compliment their Yoga practice with ‘extra’ healing therapies for specific issues. Either way in class they can ALL still work to look deep inside themselves to try to resolve any problems and discover their better ways to move and strengthen.
ALL Yogis ~ YOU HAVE TO TUNE IN. If you are aware you are misaligned, imbalanced, stuck, then you must adjust yourself. Don’t follow the path of least resistance where you know that it is the wrong direction to work in. Be your own healer (with right guidance). Over time the repetition of better patterns of movement WILL make a difference. It just may take longer in some instances but with the right help AND your regular Bikram Yoga practice you will make it. When you ‘make it’ you will know that much of it was a ‘head thing’. You have to decide IN YOUR HEAD first to change habits, be more patient and tune in.
Om Om Om Turn Up Buttercup and Tune In 😉
For more on Asymmetry you might enjoy reading Designed by Universe, Shaped by Life, Refined at YM