OSTEOPOROSIS - STRENGTHEN BONES WITH YOGA THERAPY

YOGA THERAPY IS NOT MEDICINE

The desire of yoga practitioners to receive concrete assistance outside the framework of orthodox medicine is growing steadily. In addition to the orthodox medical measures such as vitamin D substitution, taking light walks, prescribing bisphosphonates, and the advice to participate in rehabilitation sports, we can open up even more wonderful possibilities with the Yoga Therapy .

We would like to point out right at the beginning that so-called secondary osteoporoses, which can occur, for example, as a result of malnutrition or malnutrition or as a side effect of numerous medications at any age, must be treated at the respective cause!

YOGA THERAPY - A MULTIMODAL THERAPY CONCEPT

The artificial separation of our thinking and feeling from our body is an idea of analytical thinking. In yoga, this separation has not been and is not carried out. Clearly, our thinking and feeling is manifested for everyone to experience in the body and conversely, our physical condition very strongly influences our cognitive and emotional being. For example, we radiate confidence just as physically as we do fear, stress or readiness to fight, and in a state of physical well-being, e.g. during a nice walk alone or with a loved one, we experience a completely different, liberated state of mind. In the context of Yoga Therapy , we consistently use both ways - top-down and bottom-up - to target our bone density. On the ethical basis of Yama and Niyama (e.g. non-violent, non-painful, interested, calm, ...) we practice strengthening postures and movements to strengthen our musculature and thereby our bones, and tone the torso musculature through breathing to derive from it not only greater physical stability, but also decisiveness and clarity of mind. Yogic techniques, as well as basic Ayurvedic considerations, can easily be directed at the problem of diminishing bone density for a while and have a great impact. If left untreated, osteoporosis can lead to, for example, vertebral body fractures (so-called sintering fractures) with wedge and fish vertebrae formation and increasing kyphosis of the thoracic spine in women after postmenopause and later in men as well, and to fractures of the femur near the hip joint (so-called femoral neck fracture) or wrist and shoulder fractures in older age due to falls. These are the most common fractures in the elderly. However, because osteoporosis affects the entire skeleton, any areas of the body that are under or unstressed are less resistant and therefore more susceptible to disruption or fracture. Unfortunately, the decrease in bone density is often without:

  • the accompanying or preceding atrophy of the musculature is discussed.
  • To mention the importance of bone tissue for our other systems (immune system, nervous system, muscle tissue, cardiovascular system, PH level regulation) and thus for our homeostasis.
  • to show the simple possibilities of the persons concerned, which can be carried out by ourselves

So the question remains: What and specifically also how can we stimulate tissue regeneration with Yoga Therapy ?

TISSUES OF THE BODY AND THEIR STRESSES

In order to develop a yoga therapeutic treatment concept, it is useful to look at the affected body tissues and their specific formation stimuli. There are cartilage tissues, bone tissues, nerve tissues, muscle tissues and connective tissues, ranging from very loosely arranged to highly specialized, as we see with fascia, tendons and ligaments. All tissues interact favorably with each other and yet they need certain stimuli to remain healthy and strong. In the case of bone, as the tissue primarily affected in osteopenia and osteoporosis, this is relatively simple: it needs pressure! Even healthy, young astronauts, who are by no means susceptible to osteoporosis, developed brittle bones after only a few weeks in space outside the influence of gravity and at that time without the possibility to build up muscles. All bones that we do not load in the most diverse ways are broken down. In women, for various reasons, this process is more rapid after menopause than in men. Known since time immemorial and now specified by numerous studies on static and dynamic strength training, and most recently for intense weight bearing even on fragile bones by the Liftmor study and the Liftmor-M study, it is clear that we can directly improve our bones beyond daily walking in nature by maintaining and building our musculature as well as using gravity - even in old age. Bone is highly living and continuously regenerating. The process of bone remodeling is beautifully described by the authors of this study in depth and with many new aspects.

In psycho-neuro-immunology, the close interplay between our experiences and what we make of them through our thinking and feeling, i.e. the evaluation of our experience, has long been the subject of research into possible interventions. That biological, or physical, interactions are also being considered adds to the complexity of the effort, even in research, to understand our human nature. Increasingly, there are indications that the millennia-old insights and wisdom of the vernacular, i.e. of our forefathers, although expressed in different language and without analytical naming of individual molecules, atoms, minerals, etc., nevertheless correspond to the facts. We actually get gray hair rapidly when worries and stress get the upper hand. And really it is also true that e.g. fear is in our bones and we radiate happiness. In the bones phosphates (85%), minerals (magnesium (60%), potassium (95%), potassium etc.), salts, many micronutrients are stored and released when needed. As soon as we face fear or get into stress - and here lies the magic of bone and perhaps the key to a deeper understanding and greater gratitude and care in dealing with this tissue - the body is mobilized for the sympathicotonic response, known as the flight or fight response. We are enabled to act, to speed up our heartbeat, to tense muscles and run, to breathe more deeply, and much more. However, any muscle tension needs a lot of magnesium and phosphate, as it is essential for the energy production of each cell to make adenosine triphosphate. This molecule is a universal energy currency of our body and its extraction happens in the mitochondria of cell nuclei. Since our bone has filled its stores from food and blood during calm periods, it is then able to provide us with the necessary building blocks for energy production at lightning speed during times of anxiety and stress. Every thought, even before we are consciously and triggered by hormonal and neurological cascades ready to run away, leads at the bone level to the release of the stored building materials. How generous, sensitive, anticipatory and self-sacrificing our bones are in ensuring our survival through their mode of reaction has only become clear in recent years of intensive research. However, it has also become clearer how much chronic states of stress can make us ill and exhaust us, and perhaps with this knowledge we can be more conscious and committed to ensuring that our bones, and thus we, are always well? In any case, the understanding helps me to increase my motivation in order to change my experience in such a way that it becomes more and more effortlessly possible to do the things that I know nourish me.

GOALS OF THE YOGA THERAPY FOR OSTEOPOROSIS

The goals of a yoga-therapeutic treatment targeting the bone as tissue are:

  • To maintain or obtain a healthy and strong bone
  • strengthen our muscles to exert sufficient pressure on the bones
  • to use gravity to increase our movement in space and the associated varied and natural load on our bones
  • Learn axial pressure during postures and movements on the mat and in everyday life
  • Strengthen our balance so as not to fall unintentionally with gravity, risking broken bones
  • Train coordination to make protective and nurturing movements smoother, slower, and faster (e.g., when falling)
  • Using our thinking and feeling for us and not against us; confidence, mindfulness and awareness of our own contribution to healing are our greatest resources
  • deepen the understanding of the importance of bones for our organism
  • to change our nutrition with simple means in a meaningful and uplifting way
  • use ayurvedic millennia old formulas to lower the "vata dosha

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS AND APPLICATION OF YOGA THERAPY IN OSTEOPOROSIS

  • Osteoporosis, from an Ayurvedic perspective, is a classic "vata dosha" imbalance with atrophy or demineralization of the bone. This is usually preceded by the atrophy of the muscles, a process called sarcopenia. As it progresses, the decreased bone density makes the bone susceptible to deformities and fractures. From an Ayurvedic point of view, we would pay attention to provide the body with particularly nourishing and restorative substances especially through oils, medicinal herbs and enemas and of course the adjustment of the lifestyle.
  • Bones need a safe, axial load at the beginning of the exercise practice. For the spine, this is the neutral position with its gentle vibrations. For all joints on the body, including the 90+ joints near the spine, there is a middle position where all tissues of the body have their greatest resilience. This is where we should begin our exercise offerings.
  • Bones in the state of osteopenic or osteoporotic weakening cannot initially tolerate bending stresses and shear forces outside the middle position well, which is why we avoid yoga-therapeutic end-degree movements in all directions, i.e. flexion, extension, lateral inclination and rotation.
  • Fear fuels stress and together they lead to avoidance behaviors and more frequent fall events. In terms of yoga therapy, confidence, coordination and balance are highly effective alongside strengthening the muscles in safe, individually appropriate starting postures and natural, varied movements in space.

Specific suggestions for us as teachers or stakeholders are:

  • To work out the neutral position of the spine with its double S-shape in the Āsana and encourage its use in everyday life. The careless sitting posture often observed among sufferers places unfavorable stress on the spine.
  • Decreased muscle mass, strength and endurance often precede or accompany loss of bone density. Muscle building for the trunk, shoulder girdle and pelvic-femoral muscles in varied postures of standing, sitting, lying down and on all fours is an essential part of yoga therapeutic intervention. Stabilization of the hands and feet are also important in terms of fall prevention. The feet to stay on the feet, the hands and forearms because they are the most common fractures of the elderly and we often use them to support ourselves when falling.
  • Strength building is encouraged starting at a load of three times per week for at least 15 minutes and as always we should go from light to heavy.
  • Alignment is important. The basic requirement is the creation of a trunk muscle corset to activate the abdominal, pelvic floor and back muscles without first curving or rounding the spine. The more load placed on the feet, so especially in standing postures, the more important it is to build the arches of the feet. In the case of the wrists, it should be noted that older people often no longer have the full mobility of the wrists for extension and therefore we should NOT allow the hands to be placed under the shoulders.
  • Simple Āsana are usually very effective, as they can be practiced both regularly and without much effort (change of clothes, use of mats). Particularly beneficial are symmetrical and asymmetrical standing postures, balance and coordination postures and movements, power postures in quadrupedal stance or support postures on hands and feet.
  • Practicing techniques with long and complete exhalation (e.g., through Ujjayi breathing) increases the energy of the practitioner and strengthens the muscles (e.g., pelvic floor and abdominal muscles). The short kumbhaka practiced without ambition can lead to increased energy levels and favorably influence our inner and outer posture.
  • Cocontraction describes the additional, conscious tensioning of muscles that are not necessarily required to perform a Āsana, but increase the stability of the posture and the axial pressure exerted on the spine and other bones, and is very helpful as a technique to shorten the duration of the exercise. For this purpose, and to increase the pressure on the bones and the stress on the muscles as they progress, I also like to recommend that my clients wear a weight vest for short periods of time during safe everyday movements.
  • My experience is that the number of targeted Āsana per exercise sequence should not normally exceed five to six, so that regularity and internalization of the sequences are easier.
  • My experience is also that simple techniques of meditation, if the sufferer is willing to engage in them, improve goodwill, confidence and self-esteem.
  • In my practice, I also recommend that selected patients use additional weights such as shopping bags carried as symmetrically as possible or a weight vest.

TO THE FINAL

In humility there is also courage! The sooner we start to take care of ourselves as well and give more space to prevention as well as to actively and self-design the therapy, the easier we can live motivated in a good direction. Much joy, confidence and strength to you and yours!
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