If you are diagnosed with any kind of joint hypermobility, whether EDS or HSD, there is probably a high chance you have heard, or even said, these phrases before:
“Yoga is dangerous for EDS.”
“I was told not to do yoga.”
“Yoga will just make everything worse for your joints.”
And in some cases, these phrases aren’t wrong. But the truth is that there is no black and white factual statement that has come out about doing yoga when you have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. These ideas could come from anywhere: personal beliefs, someone we trust, or our own experience with yoga. We are all different and what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa.
This also applies to the practice of yoga!
There are countless people with hypermobility/EDS who have been practicing yoga for years and have done well (I am one of them!). But the key is being aware of your body and its abilities. And remember, just because you don’t feel comfortable doing yoga right now, doesn’t mean you won’t at some point. And there are also those who tried it and realized that maybe they were not strong enough, or self-aware enough to know how to protect their hypermobile joints when practicing yoga.
In their defense, extreme hypermobility used to be glorified, not just in yoga, but dance, gymnastics, and other sports where being able to contort your body in extreme ways was viewed as valuable and helped give you an edge over others who couldn’t do the same.
But, if you take that same person who is not aware of how to protect their hypermobile joints when practicing yoga and pair that with an instructor who may not be aware of the damage that can be done when pushed to those extreme positions, you can see why many EDSers were told not to do yoga.
Many perceive yoga as a form of exercise where you’re meant to push the poses to the extreme. However, it's quite the opposite! Yoga with EDS is really all about control. Push yourself to hold a pose before letting yourself relax into it. This can help you strengthen your joints and reduce pain caused by EDS.
Yoga can be an amazing way to learn how not to hyperextend and gain strength and stability. Yoga is also incredible for learning how to incorporate movement and mindfulness as a way to manage chronic pain.
Be sure to consult with your primary care physician or other medical professionals in regards to your medical concerns. This text cannot and should not replace advice from the patient's healthcare professionals. Any person who experiences symptoms or feels that something may be wrong should seek individual professional help for evaluation and/or treatment. This information is for guidance only.