Taking Care Of Our Bones And Joints With Yoga And Ayurveda
Maintaining bone density and joint health into old age is essential, just as it is important to focus on developing robust bones during childhood, keeping joints flexible and strong during adulthood, and preventing osteoporosis during the latter years of life.
Those who are familiar with the discomfort of aching joints or the trauma of a broken bone understand the importance of knowing what nutrients are required for strong bones, joints, and connective tissue.
Yoga provides a wealth of practises to care for joints and bones, such as weight-bearing postures, joint rotations, and the ability to relax the nervous system, all of which have a positive effect on pain levels.
In the following text, we will delve deeply into the myriad facets of joint and bone health, from the best foods and nutrients for building and maintaining healthy joints and bones to targeted yoga practises and joint mobility exercises.
Taking care of our skeletons
The skeleton is made up of bone and cartilage, and we are said to be in the "bone-building years" of our lives between the ages of 10 and 20. Cartilage, a soft, elastic tissue, is abundant in areas of the body where growth and change are expected to occur, such as the joints, hips, and ribcage.
Children are typically more flexible because their bodies contain more cartilage, and because they are constantly forming new bone, they typically heal from injuries quickly.
Most of the cartilage in our bodies is ossified into bone by the time we're 16 years old, and by the time we're 25 years old, our bones are considered to be fully hardened.
When children are allowed to develop at their own pace, they are better able to move around on a regular basis, which is essential for healthy bone and joint development. Bone density and healing are stimulated by the "stress" of bearing weight, so even the most basic of movements, such as walking, jumping, crawling, skipping, and carrying heavy objects, can have a positive effect. Weaker bones are a problem for today's kids, and studies show that a lack of physical activity, insufficient exposure to sunlight and vitamin D, and an unhealthy diet may all contribute to this problem. The phenomenon that Richard Louv termed "nature deficit disorder" is having negative effects on children's emotional and physical well-being. So, it's pretty important to let kids be kids, to let them run around and get hurt and heal on their own, if we want them to develop strong and healthy bones.
Structures of the Skeleton in Adults
Since we reach our maximum bone density in our early twenties, taking care of our bones as adults is crucial. The health of your joints and bones can be negatively affected by factors like inactivity, eating a processed food diet, and experiencing high levels of stress.
Weight-bearing exercises, adequate calcium and vitamin D intake, and time spent outdoors are all recommended as treatments; vitamin D from the sun also plays a key role in how much of the vitamin we can absorb from food.
Gut health should be taken into account in conjunction with our food choices. Even if we eat a diet rich in organic, bone-healthy foods, we may still be deficient in essential nutrients if the gut is unable to absorb them due to conditions like leaky gut, colitis, or irritable bowel syndrome. In addition to the bone-building options listed below, try to consume more prebiotics from almonds, bananas, leeks, and onions, and probiotics from yoghurt, sauerkraut, kefir, and miso.
Bones in older people
One risk of ageing is a loss of bone density. No one should be paranoid about developing bone loss in their later years, but it is important to pay special attention to bone health in this period of life.
While postmenopausal women are at increased risk for low bone density (also known as "osteopenia") due to declining levels of hormones like oestrogen, there are many natural ways to support bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
Fractures of the hip and spine are more likely in people with osteoporosis because of the disease's link to low bone density. Reduced hormone levels have been linked to smoking, an acidic diet high in sugar, and long-term excessive consumption of alcohol and fizzy drinks; steroids found in medications for eczema, asthma, irritable bowel syndrome, and arthritis; and caffeine.
Taking care of bone density at this age is crucial, and natural methods such as diet, movement, sunlight, and mental health care play a significant role.
How Ayurveda Views Bone Health
The sister science of yoga, Ayurveda, acknowledges that different parts of the body have different nutritional requirements. The seven Dhatus refer to a specific set of bodily tissues, which include:
Rasa (the plasma, lymph and immune cells)
Rakta (blood) (blood)
Mamsa (muscle) (muscle)
Meda (body fat),
Majja (nerve tissue), and
Shkura (male) and Artava (female) (reproductive tissue)
According to Ayurveda, all of the body's layers must be adequately nourished for the asthi (bones) and Shukra or Artava (reproductive system) layers to receive nutrients. Bone health may be negatively affected if we don't get enough of the good stuff to properly nourish our skin, blood, and muscles. Then what is the initial step towards stronger bones? Constructing a body that receives optimal nourishment and care from the inside out. Stop for a second and ask yourself if there is any part of you that doesn't feel nourished; for example, does your skin feel dry? Feeling a lack of strength in your muscles? Are you emotionally or mentally drained? Attempt to deal with these surface-level issues before delving into the meatier issues beneath.
Sustaining Bone and Joint Health
Consistent yoga practise has been shown in multiple studies to aid in bone maintenance and the avoidance of osteoporosis in later life. A healthy amount of force applied through the muscles, joints, and bones stimulates bone-making cells called osteoblasts, which then differentiate into bone-embedding cells called osteoclasts. The most beneficial postures are those that necessitate regular exercise to keep our muscles and joints in good shape. Strengthen your ankles, legs, hips, shoulders, and wrists with yoga asanas like the plank, chair pose (Utkatasana), virabhadrasana (warrior 2), and more.
Even if low oestrogen levels do lead to osteopenia or osteoporosis in postmenopausal women, yoga poses can help restore bone density in the spine and femurs, as demonstrated by the work of renowned medical expert Loren Fishman, MD. Twelve distinct positions were examined in the study.
Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose,
Vriksasana, or Tree Pose,
Warrior Two Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Parasvakonasana, or the side-angle pose
Pose of the Twisted Triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana)
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Pose Supta Padangusthasana A, or the "Supine Hand-to-Foot Pose" (leg raised)
Supine hand-to-foot pose (Supta Padangusthasana B) (leg to the side)
Twist with straight legs (Marichyasana B)
Matsyendrasana, or "Lord of the Fishes," is a bent-knee twisting pose.
The Corpse Pose (Savasana) in Yoga.
For more information on these and other yoga postures, please refer to our comprehensive online resource centre.
The Pawanmuktasana series, found in books like Asana, Pranayama, Mudra, and Bandha by Swami Satyananda, is a time-honored technique for maintaining healthy joints.
This simple series of rotations, bending and flexing of the knees and ankles, and stretches on the floor is excellent as a warm-up for more intense practise, or as a daily dose of joint-friendly movement. Joint strength and mobility are increasingly being emphasised in modern mobility practises. David Croft focuses on helping male patients recover from joint pain brought on by years of strenuous athletic activity. His advice: "The exercise you do should improve your mood, not worsen it." David's clients have gone from suffering from chronic, severe knee pain to freely engaging in high-intensity exercise like running. When your joints are healthy, you can have more faith in your body's ability to carry out your wishes. Joint mobility is just as crucial as strength. Everyone deserves the freedom from joint pain that comes with performing everyday activities like bending over to pick up a dropped object, playing with one's children, or participating in one's favourite sports.
The hormonal system isn't the only thing that stress can wreck havoc on; it can also affect bone health and the body's ability to utilise nutrients. When we're constantly on edge, our bodies respond by increasing their use of energy-draining mechanisms like heart rate, respiration rate, and muscle tension. In order to deal with what it perceives as 'urgent' and stressful situations, the body diverts resources away from the reproductive system and the bones. In addition to preventing the body from absorbing calcium, studies show that high levels of cortisol (also known as the "stress hormone") also prevent bone-building cells from dividing and producing new bone. What's the fix? Time to give your nervous system some much-needed TLC by learning how to relax and unwind.
While regular yoga practise is known to alleviate stress, those who are recovering from a bone injury or concerned about their joints should pay special attention to slowing down and relaxing more deeply. Add some yin yoga and meditation into your daily routine; even five minutes a day can make a big difference.
Supplements and nourishment for strong bones and joints
Numerous foods exist that aid in bone and joint health, but before we get to those, here's what you should avoid:
Overindulgence in alcoholic beverages
Salt Deficit Hypertension
Be sure to soak your legumes in water for a few hours before cooking to reduce the phytate content and increase calcium absorption.