Mary Schatz, M.D.

Mary Schatz M.D. Featured in Yoga Journal

Whether you're 17 or 70 now is the time to protect yourself from  osteoporosis. While we do not have control over some of the risk factors for osteoporosis, there is something we can do to help. The key, according to Kendra Kaye Zuckerman, M.D., director of the osteoporosis program at Allegheny University Hospitals in Philadelphia, is that you must exercise consistently—at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week.

Exercise works, according to Krisna Raman, M.D., author of A Matter of Health, because it stimulates bone remodeling and "improves the absorption of calcium from the intestine and promotes its deposition on the bones."

Yoga serves the body in several ways. According to physician and yoga expert Mary Schatz, M.D., yoga can stimulate the bones to retain calcium, provided the body gets enough calcium in the first place.

. B.K.S. Iyengar, master of yoga's therapeutic applications, explains the benefits of yoga by means of what he calls its "squeezing and soaking" actions. He contends that through the process of squeezing out the old, stale blood or lymphatic fluids and soaking the area with fresh, oxygenated blood or fluids, yoga helps the body to utilize the nutrients it needs.

Inversions offer a perfect example of this phenomenon, particularly Sarvangasana  (Shoulderstand) and Halasana (Plow Pose). These poses, according to Iyengar, regulate the thyroid and parathyroid glands (critical for metabolism) located in the neck, by creating a "chin lock" that squeezes stale blood from the area. As we come out of the pose and release the lock, the neck region is bathed in fresh, oxygenated blood. Iyengar also teaches that forward bends quiet the adrenals, and backbends energize them. Twists like Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved Triangle Pose), he says, are equally effective for regulating the adrenal glands, which we rely on to provide adequate amounts of estrogen and androgen for healthy bones.

Good posture is critical to keeping your spine healthy, strong, and flexible. Yoga, particularly standing and seated poses, can help. Schatz points out that when a woman suffers from osteoporosis, her vertebrae weaken and become vulnerable to collapse. If she has poor posture on top of a weakened spine, the likelihood of vertebral fracture increases.

Article taken from Yoga Journal


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