No one likes to be called mature – you’re not a cheese. But if you have a little more ‘life experience’, please read on, for the sake of the incredible body that’s got you this far.
What happens to your body as it ages
As you get older, the collagen fibres in your connective tissue link together more tightly, making them less supple. At the same time, elastin fibres in your body decrease (elastin is the protein that allows you to ‘snap back’).
Then there’s the age-related loss of tissue water content. Your connective tissue literally dries up, ‘shrink-wrapping’ your joints, ligaments and muscles, which makes you stiffer and less mobile.
Less hydration and flexibility in the connective tissue can also mean that your body is more prone to stress and strain, and you may find it more difficult to recover from injuries when they do occur – especially if you lead a sedentary lifestyle.
I know. Getting older is a joy isn’t it?
But before you resign yourself to life in the recliner, there is a simple solution: move.
Any form of exercise will help hydrate your tissues and increase circulation, but here are 5 reasons why yin yoga is ideal for more life-experienced bodies:
1. Yin gets to where it matters
While other forms of yoga predominately work on muscular structures, yin yoga works at a deeper level – creating release in the connective tissues and reducing stiffness.
2. You don’t need existing cardiac fitness
If you haven’t exercised in a long time, rocking up to a dynamic Vinyasa flow class can actually do more harm than good. In yin, the pace is slow and poses are held for long periods, so you’re less likely to injure yourself (and more likely to go to class again). However, it’s important to note that while yin is excellent for building flexibility, for total fitness you will need to add in some resistance strength training. See my post on yoga and fitness to learn more.
3. The body is moved passively rather than dynamically
Yin yoga is great if you have injury and limitations. There’s no ‘right way’ to do yin so you can find your ‘edge’ in your version of the pose – the one that suits your body.
4. You slow down and deepen the breath
In more dynamic yoga practices, you’re moving fast, leaving less time to focus on the breath. Yin yoga’s slow pace gives you time to concentrate on the breath. This helps you relax but also oxygenates the blood, increasing circulation and enhancing organ function – crucial as your body ages.
5. Yin yoga helps reduce cortisol
Yin’s mindful movement and deep breath work promote emotional wellbeing and reduce the production of cortisol – the stress hormone. Excessive cortisol production can constrict blood flow, so a healthier emotional state also means a healthier body.
It’s never too late to move and celebrate your amazing body. Get on the mat and you’ll see why it’s yin for the win, whatever your age.
Author’s note: For older people who are reasonably fit and healthy, practicing yin shouldn’t pose a problem. If you have osteopenia or osteoporosis, check in with your doctor before commencing any new practice. If you have concerns, try a private or assisted class where an experienced teacher can physically assist you into the shape.