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“What’s wrong with this yoga pose” from the Athleta catalog

December 10, 2013

Athleta Catalog PhotoDear Athleta,

I noticed you have a new yoga model in your catalog. Her tights look great. And her pose looks crappy. Can you please fix this?


PS. I love you.

So, what’s wrong with this yoga pose?

Firstly, this kind of thing only happens with people who are extraordinarily flexible and beyond that; the hyper-mobile types. People who are hyper-mobile have a larger range of motion in a joint than normal. The street term is “double jointed.” It just means they can stretch farther than they should.

And boy does this happen in yoga a lot. Just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

double jointed elbowHere’s an example of a hyper-mobile elbow joint. If you don’t have one of these yourself, you probably have a friend who does.

I see this elbow thing in about 25% of my students. True story. It’s really challenging to reprogram someone who is used to being able to bend so deeply because to them it feels completely normal. But I keep on them.

Going back to the pose above, Parsvakonasana, what’s wrong with this pose? This woman has some extraordinary mobility in her hips and pelvis. To be specific, it appears as if her sit bone is dropping lower than her knee joint (area 2 is lower than area 1). THAT’S WHAT WRONG WITH THIS POSE. PLEASE DON’T DO IT. I’ll tell you why.

Athleta pose with numbers

When you dip down too low like that, you’ve lost your active engagement of the pose and you risk over-stressing the joint. Essentially it means you’re not using your muscles to stabilize the pose. Eventually, over time with repetition, you’ll be hurting. Been there, done that. It takes a long time to heal overstretched soft tissue. So, for us hyper-mobile types (myself included) it takes extra hard work and concentration to avoid dipping into really bendy areas and instead backing off and using muscles (and in this case, engaging the crap out of our inner thighs and pelvic floor.)

So, there you go. Good luck. Go onwards and may you practice safe yoga.

PS. Athleta, thank you for making it all up with this beautifully engaged example of Parsvakonasana (from the same catalog no less).

Athleta side angle

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