Students sometimes ask me, “Can yoga make me too flexible for my sport?” The answer is, hypothetically, yes—though in practice, a runner logging 40+ miles a week just doesn’t have the time to do so much asana practice that she compromises the useful stiffness in her stride. My latest post for Yoga Journal looks at how hip stretches can help, and how much flexibility is enough, given your sport. There’s a special shout-out to curling, which may feel like an inside joke to those who’ve done my online course on teaching yoga to athletes. (We use curling as our example sport as we consider how yoga can serve an athlete.)
Diligent practice of hip stretches—what in yoga we often call “hip openers,” as though they are key to unlocking the secrets of the hips—can dramatically increase your flexibility and range of motion around the hip joints. If you are athletically minded, this can be a good thing. But as with many good things, too much can be overdoing it. The key for athletes is to develop or maintain balance between stiffness and openness, which the Yoga Sutra calls sthira and sukha: a balance of strength and flexibility in the muscles around the hips. This balance can change depending on both the athlete’s body and on sport-specific needs.