Over Straightening

by Ian Bysh

This week in my class we were sitting in dandasana, and that reminded me about over-straightening legs, so I thought I’d blog about it. Actually “over-straighten” is a misnomer. Beyond straight is a better way of putting it. If you sit in dandasana and your heels can lift off the floor, that’s an indication you can over straighten your legs. Some people can barely lift their heels off the floor in dandasana, and other people can lift them up by an inch or two. Those people especially need to beware in things like trikonasana or arda chandrasana or parsvottanasana – straight leg standing poses in other words. If your leg goes beyond straight your knee is jammed right back against the stoppers, and if you make a sudden movement, like if you hiccough or twist to accommodate some internal malfunction, or even by coming out of the pose, you can damage your knee ligaments. And we all know how long ligaments take to heal. A long time. You won’t be doing yoga for ages.

With arms it’s similar. From folded arms, you can move shoulder, elbow and wrist into a straight line, and then some people can take their arms beyond this. Over straightening people (gymnasts in particular seem prone to it), have a hard job when doing a handstand or downward dog because it takes upper arm effort to keep the shoulder, elbow and wrist aligned. It’s much easier to let the elbows lock, but – as I say – this way lies weeping and gnashing of teeth.



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