Osteoporosis: An Opportunity to Serve

Osteoporosis: An Opportunity to Serve

Matthew J. Taylor, M.P.T., R.Y.T.

Abstract

Osteoporosis is a significant, serious health chal- lenge that offers Yoga therapy an important opportunity to serve both the public and the health care community. A review of the etiology, incidence, and risk factors of osteoporosis is followed by a discussion of known med- ical risk factors for Yoga students. The problem is then presented from a Yoga therapy perspective, offering additional insights, opportunities, and challenges for Yoga therapists. Practical action steps and practice development recommendations support a concluding call for Yoga therapists to bring their transformative service to this worldwide pandemic.

“. . . Let go of the forecast you heard when you were younger than the child now clattering up the backstairs all laughter and gasping for what we’re here to do. Look down. Look at the stars. We’re here so briefly, weather with bones.”1

The term “osteoporosis” has recently become famil- iar to most of us. To many it is synonymous with “old age,” “thin/brittle bones,” “hunched over seniors,” and “fractured hips.” The forecasts we have heard range from a gloomy “it’s inevitable and devastating; they can’t do anything anymore” to the equally extreme “it’s an over- hyped condition by the pharmaceutical companies and only those . . . with severe, deforming problems are really at risk.” Given this wide range of forecasts, what are we, as Yoga therapists, here to do for our students?

This article is written from the premise that osteo- porosis is a significant, serious health challenge that offers an ideal venue for introducing the emerging pro- fession of Yoga therapy to the public and the health care community. We as Yoga therapists are here to bring rea- soned sanity to the above-stated extremes and a compas- sionate depth of service to ourselves and our students who are influenced by osteoporosis. After reviewing what is known about osteoporosis, I will bring a yogic perspective on its challenges, followed by a review of what forms of care are presently available and the limi- tations of each. From those limitations emerges a dis- cussion of the richness of Yoga therapy to serve and address them, including how to identify those at risk and how to modify current programming, as well as ideas for new programming. Our ability to offer both depth and breadth of service will place Yoga therapy as a peer among the many professions that address osteoporosis and its life- altering effects. After all, from our own practice we know deep within that as “weather with bones,” what affects the health of one field of weather will stir or moderate the weather in the entire community.

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