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October 07, 2009


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Thanks so much for posting this article. There are so many health benefits to doing yoga, and it's great to see others putting the word out!

I have tried Bikram yoga for a few days. Many people claim that it helps improve injuries. I actually only expected to lose some weight and gain flexibility from the classes. After several days of bikram yoga, I feel so much more energetic, fit and less stressed.

I never knew that yoga could help prevent dowager's hump due to aging. Perhaps I should consider practicing more yoga more routinely!

Thank you for posting this information.

The younger one starts with the practice the better. Time and practice is the best preventive medicine. It is also great that studies like these are being conducted because scientific studies have the credibility for certain types of people.

There are styles of yoga that teach you how to move your body in new ways. Choosing one of these styles offers the greatest health benefits by enabling you to develop your flexibility, strength and balance.

Loren Fishman, MD, and Anusara Yoga instructor Ellen Saltonstall (both based in New York City) are coming out with a consumer guide to yoga for osteoporosis in March 2010. I liked their 2008 volume on yoga for arthritis. Another good resource is the International Association of Yoga Therapists at iayt.org.

I have complete faith in yoga. I believe that yoga can cure all types of diseases and can offer solutions for many complicated problems. It's great to know that Dowager's hump can also be treated through yoga. This news would be a great blessing for people suffering from Dowager's hump disorder.

I agree that yoga compliments running well. I get a lot of benefit from hip opening poses and strengthening the quadriceps to balance and stretching the hamstring. For the back pain, I would think cat and cow poses as well as cobra and child's pose would help, but it is important to keep the body balanced for an overall benefit.

I'm 31 and recently have started an exercise program consisting mainly of running and yoga. I find they compliment each other nicely. My shoulders and neck naturally hump forward so I look like I'm slouching, and I frequently have pain in my upper back. Could you suggest some asanas or a series of asanas to help correct my posture and back pain? I have heard that slouched shoulders and upper spine cause inefficient breathing. I would love to start looking after this problem now because I'm sure it will only get worse with age. Thank you

I never knew this was the case. Some may even veer away from physical activity due to the presence of the hump. However, if medical guidance is given, this can be effective.

In response to TH:

Hatha is a general term given to many types of yoga, but it usually means gentle or basic yoga. Vinyasa yoga deals more with synchronizing breath and movement and creating a heat within the body through continuous motion. Bikram yoga is practice in a heated room and focuses on loosening muscles and cleansing the body through sweat. The study used Hatha yoga to improve Dowager's Hump.

Last year I signed up for a yoga class with my girlfriends for the first time, and it was definitely relaxing and different than other workouts I’ve tried before. There’s a lot of stretching and breathing techniques involved, and I can clearly see how it can help with balance and strength. Therefore, I am not surprised that yoga could help improve dowager’s hump. However, I also feel as though you have to be very aware of your body and your moves in yoga. Otherwise, you may not enjoy all its benefits.

I feel that I wasn’t very mentally involved in the moves or following the breathing techniques properly because even though I took the class for a couple of months, I didn’t notice much of a difference in my posture, flexibility or state of mind.

Also, I wonder if yoga has more of an impact on older individuals. The participants in the study were around 75 years old, so the yoga may have been a drastic change in the level and types of activity they usually performed on a daily basis leading to more significant changes in the strength of their bodies.

I attended my first yoga session recently, and it was amazing how many muscles we stretched that I didn't even know I had. A main focus of the class was stretching your shoulders and learning how to train your body to have good posture. A lot of our exercising included an emphasis on keeping your shoulders back so as not to hunch over. Now I can really see how yoga can help prevent Dowager's hump.

A good friend of mine has scoliosis and finds a great deal of relief when she practices yoga. She has increased range of motion and decreased pain in many positions. The mechanism may be similar to Dowager’s hump in this study.

Does the type of yoga make a difference as to how the body responds, or does it all do relatively the same thing? Before looking into this, I didn’t really know much about yoga and just thought yoga was all the same. But after poking around on the Internet a little, I quickly came to realize there are all different kinds of yoga. When I say, “yoga,” do I have to preface it with a specific type of yoga? How different is Bikram compared to Hatha, or Vinyasa for example? Do they all aim for the same goal, but accomplish it differently? Or are all these different types of yoga genuinely unique in all aspects?

I always thought that in yoga classes, students just sat around and stretched in order to able to do those strange poses. That was before I attended a yoga class, but now I see that it’s nothing compared to what I had seen on TV. I would say that is more like doing aerobics in slow motion but with increased emphasis on stretching, building core muscles and breathing techniques. Now I can appreciate and understand how yoga can improve someone’s well being.

Thanks so much for this site and all the blogs. I didn’t realize until now what kind of impact yoga had on the body and mind. This is definitely a possible form of therapy that can be supplemented to conventional therapies for such conditions as anxiety, stress and depression, as well as skeletal and muscular disorders. I think the focus on drug therapy is exploited, and unconventional therapies that have showed strong scientific evidence (such as yoga) should be implemented into healthcare. I am attending a yoga class this week, so I am really looking forward to it!

So many thoughts zipped through my mind upon reading the Natural Standard entry about Dowager's hump relief through Yoga. Sphinx, cobra and bridge poses realign and strengthen the spine! downward-facing fog, warrior 1 & 2, plank and crab improve balance to reduce the risk of falls due to Dowager's hump! Bow, wheel, crane, warrior 3 and dancer stimulate the thyroid gland to balance the endocrine system and affect its ability to encourage bone growth! But all these thoughts were replaced with curiosity about the designation "Dowager's Hump." I couldn't find a single explanation behind the condition's etymological significance. If anybody has an answer, please respond to: catspop7up@aol.com

In my opinion, it's important to perform yoga outside. Bare feet on raw ground. Firstly, the ground will absorb excess negative energy, which otherwise ricochets in our body without an outlet. Removing the barrier between feet and earth will open the flood fate of negative energy, clearing the body and priming it for positive regeneration through yoga.

Secondly, bare feet will emphasize the function of yoga by improving circulatory function, improving natural posture, creating a sturdier balance, and strengthening as well as elongating the spine, naturally. The reason I've never tried yoga is because it's typically taught indoors, in smelly, poorly ventilated rooms with superficial lighting. If anybody knows of yoga classes taught outdoors, please also let me know!

The benefits of yoga do not surprise me. I recently read another article, but this one was specifically on Iyengar yoga. This type of yoga pays attention to body alignment created by specific muscular movements. It uses things such as chairs, wall ropes and blocks, to help support people in different postures. This makes it easier for beginners to enter poses and reduces muscle and joint strain.

This yoga study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and was published in the journal Spine. People with chronic back pain were assigned to take either pain meds or doing this type of yoga twice weekly for 24 weeks. Results showed that participants in the yoga group had “reduced pain and greater function, and demonstrated a more significant reduction in symptoms of depression associated with lower back pain.” Additionally, six months after they began yoga, the participants still claimed they continued to benefit from it.

I feel that this is wonderful news, especially as a pharmacist who continues to see the dispensing of pain meds just continue to increase. It is wonderful to know that there are true studies that do show that alternative therapies do have an answer to conventional drug treatment!

Yoga is a great way to get both muscle and breathing exercise. There a lot of ways you can benefit from yoga in terms of general well-being. I am not surprised that yoga may also improve core and structural strength. Since many of the exercises involve holding poses for specific intervals, many of the muscles that have been neglected due to improper posture may be targeted more than they have before. These muscles may be responsible for maintaining proper form. Those that are disciplined and frequent yoga participants usually have very good posture and structure.

I had the opportunity of visiting a local yoga studio here in Boston, and I can see how it allows a person’s body to build strength, flexibility and awareness. The yoga instructor was very thorough and took the time to show the students the appropriate stances to ensure the body is receiving the full benefits. The main focus of yoga that I found was the breathing technique while one is doing the poses. It is important to keep your breathing very steady; the moment that I lost my breathing discipline, I was unable to retain my focus and fell out of my posture. However, after one class, I did feel relaxed and energized...and I can see how yoga could have its effects if you keep it up regularly.

I just took a yoga class for the first time in several years the other day, and I can definitely see how yoga would be beneficial for osteoporosis and the many other diseases listed. Yoga helps correct bad body-alignment habits and alerts you to the proper way to stand, sit, kneel, etc. For example, you should support yourself with your muscles and not lock your joints. While I was taking the class, I thought that the deep stretching was going to make me terribly sore the next day. In reality, I was not sore at all and would definitely try it again.

I recently participated in my first Yoga class. It was a pretty interesting experience. From what I’ve seen on TV, it just looks like a bunch of people sitting around doing weird poses and stretches and possibly chanting. But when I took the class, it wasn’t exactly like what I had envisioned. There is a lot of stretching, but there’s a method to it, and a certain calmness to the class. I can see how doing these stretches can help people with various problems, especially back problems.

As we age, we tend to slouch, and that’s probably due to the nature of a lot of people’s jobs or lifestyles as they sit in front of the computer. Yoga affords us the opportunity to retrain those muscles and correct posture so that symptoms like Dowager’s hump, among others, can be improved.

There has been a lot said and written about yoga in recent years. I was wondering if the young adults who practice yoga do it purely for relaxation, or do they understand that there’s more to yoga than just relation? I have a feeling that the older adults understand or hope that their health will improve in the long term.

It makes sense to me how yoga may improve a Dowager’s hump. Yoga utilizes body weight to provide bone strength and muscle building. It also incorporates meditation and relaxation that can provide to overall good psychological health. I like the attention and publicity yoga is receiving.

Yoga would be helping out many parts of their bodies. Yoga classes geared toward that patient population would provide an excellent venue for social activity as well.

As someone who regularly practices yoga, I agree that it is beneficial for physical ailments, but it is so much more than that. This is very interesting! I’ve heard that when people practice yoga on a regular basis, they’re able to stand, sit and manipulate their bodies in weird positions.

As someone who regularly practices yoga, I agree that it is beneficial for physical ailments, but it is so much more than that. The way I see it, connecting with breath and being in tune with all the major muscle groups in the body leads to a sense of balance that benefits all aspects of life. It is unfortunate that many people do not use every muscle group regularly, and I can see how this can lead to pain and deformities such as a Dowager’s hump.

This is very interesting! I’ve heard that when people practice yoga on a regular basis they’re able to stand, sit and manipulate their bodies in weird positions. My thought was that people did it for the fun of it, which can be true, but many practice it for the physical benefit that it brings to their daily lives. It’s even more interesting that it can help with depression and many more chronic diseases.

Yoga is a great means of exercise, especially as you age. There are so many different types of yoga that it is easy to find one that fits your range of capabilities and experience level. It allows you to combine stretching, aerobic exercise and the use of all of your body's muscles to increase blood flow.

When I read this study that yoga may improve anatomic form and posture, I wasn't very surprised. Yoga seems like an activity that can be molded to suit anyone's individual needs. I agree with the researchers when they say that the study group is too small to make any large-scale conclusions. On a side note, how did they measure the outcome of developing Dowager's Hump?

Yoga is certainly powerful stuff, and it's wonderful to see it being used to improve new and different conditions. I wonder how the researchers in this study measured both the spine curvature and the symptoms of pain and sleep? I understand that sometimes when subjects self-report on questionnaires that it can be hard to get standardized feedback that is reliable. Maybe someone else could chime in here to clarify this point.

I'm also curious about the type of yoga that the subjects followed, and whether the benefits would carry across different styles of yoga?

I think that yoga would be a great activity for older adults to take up to help improve a dowager’s hump or any of the other disease states for which it might have efficacy. Comorbidities such as high blood pressure, arthritis, heart disease and lung disease tend to occur frequently in older people as well. Therefore, yoga would be helping out many parts of their bodies. Yoga classes geared toward that patient population would provide an excellent venue for social activity as well. Sometimes growing old can be very isolating due to the death of a spouse, one’s family living far away (or living extremely busy lives nearby) and retirement. This sense of isolation and loneliness can lead to depression, anxiety and insomnia. Yoga classes would provide a healthy recreational activity and bring together people who share a common interest.

I can see how yoga can help for dowager’s hump and other similar physical ailments. Although I am not a frequent participant in yoga, I have tried the class several times, and it definitely makes you feel better. I would be curious to see how yoga influences younger people. The study lists participants being about 75 years old. I know when I took these classes at the gym, the participants were fairly young, (I’d say ages between 20-50). So while I believe it can help people that are 75, I’m wondering if it will have a greater impact on younger participants, as they will have more pliability in their bodies and have more time to correct spinal curvature or other ailments, if any. I would also be curious to know if the symptoms returned after the participants stopped doing the yoga for the 24 weeks.

My father was known to have this lower back pain that would put him out of work for days. He would have a tightening of his lower back muscles, which he would describe as a ‘snapping’ sensation if he bent down wrong or sat in his chair haphazardly. He had tried everything from a chiropractor to an acupuncturist, but he would find no relief from any of them. Finally, he just developed this fear of putting his back out that he was limiting his movements tremendously and causing his back muscles to just stiffen.

Finally, a family friend recommended Bikram Yoga; needless to say, my father has been going religiously for the past 2 years and has not had a back problem since. As a matter of fact, he has been able to lose about 30 pounds, and he feels great. When I asked him why he thought yoga was helping, he attributed his lack of pain to an increased range of motion and flexibility with the various poses, and the heat provided a sort of massage to his back muscles.

Was I surprised to see that yoga may improve the signs and symptoms of Dowager’s hump? Not really -- yoga has been in practice for a number of years, and there is a reason why it has become the trend of today. Not only does it offer many physical benefits, but it also offers a state of tranquility when life just becomes too hectic. Pretty soon, I imagine physicians to be writing standing orders to three yoga sessions per week as needed for body tune-ups.

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