Your spine does amazing things – protects, supports, pivots and attaches muscle to bone. The four curves in your spine absorb the shock of movement, creates flexibility and balance. In Yoga, the spine is all of this and more. Energy runs from the base of the spine to the top of the head. This energy leads to higher consciousness when channeled in meditation or during postures. Having a flexible spine is the key to strong nerves, mental clarity and fluid movement.
As we get older, one out of four women will be affected by osteopenia which if left untreated leads to osteoporosis; fragile bones.
Genetics, lack of proper nutrition from age 10 to age 20, and certain medications are known causes of this condition. Treating osteopenia and osteoporosis is generally done through medication, supplements including calcium, magnesium and vitamin D and exercise that include weight training, resistance, balance and co-ordination
YogaVision caught up with Jo-Ann James, owner of Vital Steps, a fitness studio in Toronto specializing in bone building for older women.
“As a Medical Exercise Specialist, I see clients after they have been treated by a doctor, physiotherapist or chiropractor. I don’t diagnose or treat. I help women exercise safely without compromising the injured area.”
Ms James opened Vital Steps in 1997 with a focus on the health care needs of older women. She included Yoga early on because women are seeking opportunities to develop physically, mentally and spiritually in order to manage stress. After age 40, a woman’s needs change, particularly if she has been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis.
“They tend to be frightened and not many people know how to design programs for people with osteoporosis. I specifically sought out training in the US and am a certified bone fit trainer. I did my training with Sarah Meeks, who has been training medical professionals in osteoporosis rehab and exercise programs for the past 40 years. “
“I believe that Yoga is an amazing tool for stress management and mental control. Practitioners who have been diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis need to be careful when practicing certain postures. Depending on the woman, I will modify the postures or eliminate some altogether. Osteoporosis is the highest cause of fractures for people over the age of 50. You have to ask yourself, how is this going to impact my body and is it worth the risk of injury? Not every body is designed for every activity. “
“Women need to put themselves first when it comes to physical and spiritual health. Health is not a luxury it is a necessity. Taking care of ourselves and being independent is an investment in the future. It may mean the difference between being able to open a door for yourself or climb a flight of stairs in your home. I recommend activities for older adults that are gentle and mindful. Yoga, hiking, walking and birding are high on my list. And remember that what you do comes back to you. “
Jo-Ann’s dedication to her clients is clear.
“I show women how they can look and feel better. I raise awareness of how the body works and that it is fun to move. It is great to see them unfold. So many health issues can be remedied simply by changing lifestyle. Prevention is about proper eating, rest and exercise. It is my business to prevent issues through education. “
To contact Jo-Ann James write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org