Yoga world records and over stretching

Yoga World Record in Colombia and risk of overstretching

Yoga now has its own International Day on 21 June since 2015, so it’s not surprise that Yoga is often featured in the Guinness World records. From the oldest yoga teacher at 95 years old, largest yoga lesson involving 55,506 participants, the longest yoga marathon by one person of 103 hours or the longest yoga class at just over 35 hours. This last record took place in Bogota Colombia in 2017.

The class started with 18 students, but only 11 were able to finish. They needed a minimum of 10 to qualify as a group. They were allowed to rest for 5 minutes every 60 minutes.

Yoga classes are often designed to last 60 to 90 minutes maximum. A session of more than 30 hours is indeed very extreme. What can happen to the body at such extreme situation, to the muscles, to flexibility and to the mind?

There seems to be a lot of research on the benefits of stretching, but not so much on the dangers of over doing it.

Over-stretching can lead to injury, strains, loss of muscle strength, hyper mobility and general weakness. When a muscle is being lengthened, it’s not just the actual muscle being elongated but the connective tissue (fascia) as well. 

This connective tissue is an essential part of our body as it connects muscles to bones and bones to bones (tendons and ligaments are also considered fascia). It keeps organs in place, protects the vertebrae, brain and spinal cord. It comprises up to 30% of a muscle’s total mass and when we over stretch the fascia tissue can lose their ability to recoil. Even micro injuries in the connective tissue can lead to chronic pain. 

It’s very important to be careful with over stretching, specially young adults until the age of 21 as their bodies are still developing and their bones and muscles are not fully formed. When practicing yoga, it’s not how flexible you are, but how safely you are practicing so it’s enjoyable, at the end of the day, yoga is to be enjoyed now and for many years to come. During my yoga teaching course, Master Paalu gave us very good advice… choose 15 or so poses you can do for the rest of your life, poses that you can sustain and practice on a daily basis. Over-stretching and hyper flexing the joints is not going to allow me or anyone to continue with our yoga journey for many years to come. So listen to your body, do what you enjoy and warning: don’t attempt any yoga records!.

– Angela – 

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