Osteoporosis is a reduction in bone density that affects us as we age and certain medications, including those for cancer and glucocorticoids may increase risk. As the bones become more porous and brittle, compression fractures may result from normal daily activities or falls. It is important when practicing yoga with osteopenia or osteoporosis that certain body mechanics guidelines be followed in order to ensure safety and comfort.
"To keep proper alignment, avoid the following positions or movements:
Below you will find a few yoga postures and a mudra that are helpful for those with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Touch the tips of the thumb and ring finger together, extend the index, middle, and little fingers; rest back of hands on thighs.
Benefits: Encourages feeling of safety within the body
Draw right knee into chest and hold around shin. Press left foot into floor. Sit up as tall as you can. Hold 5 breaths. Exhale to release and repeat to other side.
Benefits: Stretches muscles around hip.
Cross right thigh over left. Inhale and sit up tall. Exhale bring left arm outside of right knee, right arm under chair back. Try to twist navel, ribs and chest allowing head to follow. (Hold 10 breaths each side).
Benefits: Squeezes muscles of torso and detoxifies organs.
Seated Downward Facing Dog
Press hands into table and push your chair back as you extend arms overhead. Press hips into chair and feet into floor. Relax shoulders away from ears. Engage the belly. Hold 5-10 breaths.
Benefits: Stretches shoulders and spine, encourages deeper breathing.
Virabhadrasana II (Warrior II)
Stand with feet wide apart. Turn right foot in 30 degrees and left foot out 90 degrees. Inhale arms out from shoulders. Exhale and bend left knee. Keep torso upright and do not lean over bent leg. Gaze towards left hand. Hold 5-10 breaths then release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Strengthens legs and increases balance
We continue our work this week in class on balance by getting in touch with the strength and alignment of our legs.
Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Big Toe Pose)
Lie on the back with the knees bent.
Variation I: Draw your right knee into your chest and lengthen the left leg onto the floor. Wrap a strap around the ball of your foot and extend the leg into the air. Reach the hands up the strap until the elbows are straight but the shoulders are still grounded.
Variation II: Hold the strap in the right hand and place a block on the outside of the right hip. As you exhale, lower the leg directly out to the side so that the outer thigh rests on the block. Extend the foot into the strap and reach the left arm out to the side. To release, use the inner thigh to draw the leg up to center.
Variation III: Hold the strap in the left hand and slowly bring the leg across the body as you twist. To release, drop the right hip into the floor and allow the leg to follow. Hold each variation for 10-20 breaths.
Therapeutics: Stretches the hamstrings, calves, inner thigh, outer hip and buttock; also releases tension in the lower back.
Balance is something that we tend to lose as we age due to problems with our feet, complications from diabetes or cancer treatment, or just due to inactivity. This week we explore how to bring more balance into simple movements but starting to work with articulating and stimulating the feet.
Start sitting in a chair and crossing one leg over the other knee. Weave the fingers of your opposite hand in between the toes of your foot so that the sole of the foot and palm of the hand are facing each other.
1. Spread the fingers apart which in turn spreads the toes apart
2. Hold the ankle steady and roll the ball of the foot and toes around in a circle both directions
3. Roll the ankle around in both directions
Curl ring and little finger into palm, secure with thumb, extend index and middle fingers into V shape; point fingers toward the ground.
Benefits: Activates downward flowing energy in body
Practice Tips: Use when constipated or to ground
Talasana (Palm Tree Pose)
Stand in Tadasana with the arms at the sides. Inhale lift up onto balls of the feet as you raise arms forward and overhead
Exhale release weight back into heels as you release the arms to sides. Repeat 3-5 times.
Therapeutics: Strengthens arches of feet, ankles and calves, improves balance
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
Stand with feet hips-width apart. Engage legs and bear weight on right leg only. Draw left foot onto calf or inner thigh (do not press on side of knee). Press foot against leg and leg against foot. Draw belly in and release tail bone towards floor. Inhale and draw arms overhead without gripping shoulders. Hold as long as you can balance with comfort, release and change sides.
Therapeutics: Mental focus and balance, leg strength, stretches inner thighs
I attend Cheryl's class regularly and feel that my practice has improved immensely over the past few years due to her expert coaching. Her teaching style is clear and compassionate and her previous experience in teaching adults is evident in her organized approach and easy to understand instructions. I also appreciate that Cheryl not only teaches us about how to correctly position ourselves, but also touches on many aspects of yoga philosophy, which in turn has deepened my personal practice and heightened my awareness of the connection between mind and body, breath and relaxation.