Microtears and older yoga practitioners

This discussion group is for questions about Yin Yoga and other body parts, such as shoulders, feet, wrists, etc.... Also, this is the place to discuss various conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis, etc.
Post Reply
Kerry with a K
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 10:42 pm

Microtears and older yoga practitioners

Post by Kerry with a K »

Hi Bernie,

Can you speak to the Yin Yoga practitioner who is 55 and over and holds poses to 5 minutes?

I ask because I teach Yin to mostly older folks and was having a discussion with with a long time yoga teacher who says she does not allow her older students to hold anything longer than 2 mins because she is afraid they will microtear connective tissues which do not repair themselves. She got me thinking that maybe I should have my older students only hold poses for 3 mins. max. What do you say?

Thank you for your time.
Bernie
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Hi Kerry

I would first congratulate your teacher on wanting to protect her students. However, I do have several concerns with her reasoning:

1) She is grouping all her students into one large category--a fragile group, and treating the healthiest older student the same as a frail student. Certainly there are students for whom longer holds are not a good idea, but for most students there is no fear. By treating everyone the same, she is protecting (maybe) 1 or 2 students but at the expense of helping all the others. (Please read my article on Antifragility.)

2) The body is constantly repairing micro-tears. This is normal even for elderly. Resistance training (weights etc) create microscopic tears in the muscles, and the body initiates a healing cascade of events: secreting growth hormones and other cytokines to repair the damage. In the processes these messenger molecules leak out into the general blood system and stimulate healing throughout the body. Thus we find that the body become stronger after stress than before the stress (to a limit of course! We can always over stress the body.) (Check out this study for more details.)

3) I do not believe any acupuncturist follows her philosophy and reduces the time the needles are in to 2 minutes simply because the patient is over 55

4) The work of researchers (like Helen Langevin) have shown that long held fascial stresses are very beneficial.

5) A limit of 2 minutes means that this practice is not really affecting the yin tissues...it takes at least 2~4 to start to stress these targeted tissues.

I could go on and on, but my final point would be -- it is really up to the student to make this determination. At best the teacher helps the student learn to notice when the time is too much or not enough. The training begins by asking "what are you feeling?" If there is pain, then regardless of the age, the student should come out. But if there is no pain while in the pose, when coming out of the pose or even the next day, then the practice is most likely very safe.

I hope this helps.
Cheers
Bernie
Kerry with a K
Posts: 11
Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 10:42 pm

Post by Kerry with a K »

Thank you. Your comments are very helpful and I am breathing easier and will continue with what has been a very well received Yin practice. My students love it.

BTW, I just bought your book (your body, your yoga) and I have not been able to put it down. So juicy.

Thank you Bernie for your service to the Yin community.

Cheers!
Kerry with a K
_/\_
Bernie
Posts: 1176
Joined: Sat Sep 23, 2006 2:25 am
Location: Vancouver

Post by Bernie »

Glad you are enjoying YBYY, Kerry. My next edition, Your Spine, Your Yoga should be out in a month or so!

Cheers
Post Reply