In a recent New York Times article entitled “Women’s Flexibility Is a Liability (in Yoga),” William J. Broad discusses the correlation between yoga and the increased incidence of hip injuries in women. He quotes orthopedic surgeons from around the country agreeing that a growing percentage of their patients are women who do yoga.
Yoga need not be a prescription for injury, hip or otherwise.
A British-born Iyengar teacher once told a class, Americans “search for the sensation of stretch.” We take postures to an extreme. How far can I go into Anjaneyasana? Is my lunge lower than that of the person next to me?
We push until we feel the stretch, sink into knees and groin, collapse into hips and lower back. We let our joints hold us up. This is where we get into trouble.
“Better to do yoga in moderation and listen carefully to your body,” Broad concludes.
This means more than backing off from the point of pain.
Our body is “an intricate suspension system,” explains Alexander Technique teacher Ann Rodiger, “inflated by the rebound of gravity.” That rebound rides on the flow of our breath. If we let it, it can be what supports us.
We don’t need to push to the edges of each posture, hang out in our hinges. Once we find the lift amid an oppositional flow of energy, our time on the mat is about seeking suspension, being in it, letting it go, then discovering it again.