By Dr. Rita Khanna
Osteo means bones and porosis means porous. Osteoporosis is the disease which affects the bones inside the body of the human beings. In this disorder, the bones of the skeleton become fragile due to excessive loss of tissues. Ladies are affected more than the males by osteoporosis. This difficulty is noticed mostly in postmenopausal women who cross the age of 50 to 55. When a person suffers from osteoporosis, the bones become susceptible to fractures even by small injuries. It could result in cracking and collapsing of the bones in the three parts of the body areas like wrists, hips and spine. Normal bone consists of a series of thin, intersecting plates called ‘trabeculae’. These plates are surrounded by a dense shell. These plates form is called the bone mass. In osteoporosis, they become filled with holes or may even totally disappear. This causes a diminution of bone mass. With loss of bone mass, the shell also becomes thin. All these changes make the bones extremely fragile and it can crack with the most trivial injury.
• If the fracture is in the spine, the victim may feel a shooting pain that spreads from the back to side of the body.
• Repeated fractures in the spine can result in a deformed and curved spine. It may give the affected person a hunched back.
• Some victims of this ailment may develop minimal trauma fractures while performing regular activities like walking or climbing stairs.
• After menopause, women tend to lose bone density and, in some cases, this leads to the development of osteoporosis.
• Some women develop osteoporosis due to their genetic structure.
• People who do not get adequate amount of calcium and Vitamin D in their diet also develop osteoporosis in their later years.
• Excess consumption of meat, heavy smoking, chronic alcoholism, post-menopausal hormonal imbalances and diminished physical activity with age increase the chances of osteoporosis.
The Yogic approach:
Osteoporosis can be prevented and treated through regular Yogasanas, with proper diet and lifestyle habits. Yogasanas surely help to strengthen your bones and muscles, preventing the onset of this condition and providing relief from the pain. Yoga helps in creating a balanced harmony between the ovaries, adrenals, parathyroids, pituitary and pineal gland, thus ensuring that the body receives a steady supply of the right hormones for maintaining bone strength and maximum health and well being. Any one without any fear can start with simple Yoga flexibility exercises.
• Sit on the ground with legs stretched out straight on the ground, and exercise the parts of toes of legs, soles, ankles, leg muscles, knees, backbone and thigh bones, waist, spinal column, fingers, palms, wrists, elbows, shoulders, chest, belly and stomach, neck, eyes and muscles of the face.
• To perform the flexibility exercise known as butterfly exercise, one has to sit with legs extended in front. Thereafter bend both the legs from the knees. Thereafter widen both the knees. Thereby heels are nearer the body now hold toes of both the feet by both the hands. Now move the knees in such a manner that it resembles the butterfly moving its wings up and down. Heels must remain touching each other and as near to the body as possible. This exercise helps bones of the thighs, pelvic girdle; cover bones of the knees and joints of the paws of legs.
• Now repeat this butterfly exercise by holding the knees. Heels and toes should remain touching each other and remain very near to the body. Now hold the knees and press both the knees downward as well as upward position.
• In the third process of the exercise stretch left leg forward; raise and lift right leg and put it on the left thigh. Now move the right knee initially from top to bottom and bottom to top and thereafter in a round circular motion. This process must be repeated at least 16 times. In the above-described manner now straighten the right leg; put the left leg on the right thigh.
• Thereafter left knee should be moved alternatively up and down, as well as down to up. Thereafter move the left knee in a circular movement. This process should also be repeated 16 times.
• In addition to these flexibility exercises even when food is consumed one can no doubt sit in Vajrasana. In Vajrasana keeping the legs turned behind, the bones of knees and bones in the leg with its muscles including tibia-fibula and other bones as well as ankles of the legs and fingers of the legs get a good advantage.
Certain more Yogic postures are very helpful in battling this ailment.
They are called Kati-utthana, Setubandha, Trikonasana and different types of Trikonasanas, Virikshasana (Tree pose), Suryanamaskara, Bhujangasana, Shalabhasana, Dhanurasana, Chakrasana, Halasana, Paschimottanasana, Ushtrasana, Supta-vajrasana etc.
Pranayam: Omkar, Bhramaari, Nadi Shodhana, and Kapalbhati (Frontal brain cleansing breath) are also beneficial for osteoporosis.
Below is a description of Kati-utthana, Setubandha, Shalabhasana, and Supta-vajrasana:
Kati-utthana: Lie on your back, and bend your knees. Keep your feet close to your hips with hands by the side, and palms resting on the floor. Inhale slowly and push the waist upwards as much as you can without any pressure on your neck. Hold for some time while breathing normally.
Setubandhasana: From Katiutthana get into Setubandhasana.
Now support the waist by both the hands. Keep both the upper hands up to the elbow from the shoulders parallel to the ground; the hands from the elbow to the wrists should be straight at right angles. The support of the hand will be given to the waist from down under. Now straighten both the legs on the ground slowly; knees should not be bent, heels and toes should be touching the ground, legs should touch each other. In this fashion the shape of the body will resemble a fly-over bridge.
This Setubandhasana if practiced will give exercise to the joints of bones of the shoulders, bones of the elbows, and joints of the bones of wrists, fingers, whole of the spinal column, bones of the waist pertaining to the thighs, knees and ankles of the leg.
Shalabhasana: Lie in the prone position, bring the legs together, toes pointing outwards, hands by the side of the body, fists closed, and chin on the floor. Then raise both the legs slowly without bending at the knee. Do not tilt the pelvis. Hold this for some time with normal breathing, and come back down slowly.
Supta Vajrasana: Sit straight in Vajrasana. Keep your feet apart on the floor. Lean backwards on your right and left elbows. Now try and bend your head a back towards the floor as much as you can till you are comfortable while stretching the abdomen. Keeping the hands on the thighs, hold for some time breathing normally. Now with the help of the elbows slowly come back to the original position.
Yogic Diet for Osteoporosis:
Diet plays an important role in the treatment of osteoporosis. A Yogic diet of fresh fruit (orange, lemon, pineapple, papaya) and vegetables (green leafy vegetables, red beet and carrot), whole grains and high protein foods with moderate amounts of dairy products (milk, curds and milk products) will provide the calcium and other important minerals to prevent and reduce the development of osteoporosis. In particular, add omega-3 and vitamin E rich nuts, seeds and fish. Beware of consuming too much salt and animal protein as these can both leach calcium from your bones. Caffeine, alcohol, carbonated soft drinks and nicotine can also deplete your body’s calcium supply and a diet high in sugar has also been linked to low bone density. Make sure you get outdoors for your daily dose of vitamin D from the Sun. While supplementing your diet with calcium and other vitamins and minerals is important to help meet your daily intake requirements, these vitamins and minerals, especially calcium, are much readily absorbed and utilized when they are obtained from the food you eat.
Osteoporosis can be avoided through adequate prevention and by adhering to a calcium-rich diet, Yogasana, Pranayama and regular checkups with a qualified orthopedic doctor.
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Courtesy: Dr. Rita Khanna’s Yogashaastra Studio.
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Dr. Rita Khanna
Dr. Rita Khanna is a well-known name in the field of Yoga and Naturopathy. She was initiated into this discipline over 25 years ago by world famous Swami Adyatmananda of Sivananda Ashram in Rishikesh (India).
She believes firmly that Yoga is a scientific process, which helps us to lead a healthy and disease-free life. She is also actively involved in practicing alternative medicines like Naturopathy. Over the years, she has been successfully practicing these therapies and providing succour to several chronic and terminally ill patients through Yoga, Diet and Naturopathy. She is also imparting Yoga Teachers Training.
At present, Dr. Rita Khanna is running a Yoga Studio in Secunderabad (Hyderabad, India).