Containment for a long, healthy Yoga practice

Containment: Not a sexy word like its counterpart ‘flexibility’ but one whose application your body will thank you for. The Yoga world has been reckoning with an article about the growing number of hip replacements and hip problems in Yoga teachers. Matthew Remski has been writing about this since 2014. And of course it’s true: if we do the same hyper-flexible postures most days, we’re inevitably going to end up with problems As a new teacher 7 years ago, I led a ‘hip opening’ workshop, which had so many externally rotating postures, I squirm now at the certainty in which I taught these. To be fair to my previous self, I was teaching postures that are part of the traditional asana canon, from the seemingly benign side angle to variations of tortoise pose - the style of the workshop was not original. My personal explorations with such postures led to instability that has improved & better than before after 4 years of beginning the ‘containing’ project. I hear many people say “Oh, it’s ego why these people are getting injured”; it is sometimes, but often we’re just doing a pose that isn’t questioned for its cost/benefits, following the experienced teacher who themselves haven’t investigated the big “Why?” Yoga can be an enormously healing practice, yet it’s one that we cannot leave our discernment at the door. The longer we practice the more we need to sharpen our power of discernment to make sure it’s a practice that maintains our health for decades For an example of me practising containment, pop over to my Instagram post. Here I’m practising 2 postures, side angle & triangle, intentionally revealing my midriff so to see how much the abdomen supports the torso. These have only recently been reintroduced to my practice, albeit with a heavy dose of containment. As you can see before going into the side bend, I’m feeling into my pliability so I don’t become rigid. The chair is there to guide me to a place that maintains containment with my abdominals providing support. If my hand goes to the floor, these switch off and my sense of support is lost. I really love practising these variations with a deep sense of boundaries and vitality. As a retreater recently said “I won’t be prop shamed!” #healingyoga

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