By Eileen Fleming
Baby boomers are approaching what they thought they never would be: old!
The incidence of injuries caused by overuse of joints, tendons, ligaments and muscles has exploded in recent years among the generation born between 1946 and 1964.
According to a recent report from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, boomers are much more active than previous generations [but not all boomers have been consistently active.]
Nicholas DiNubile, MD, an orthopedic surgeon with the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, summed up the situation at a conference of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons:
Stiff joints, aching muscles — many of these ‘aging pains’ are actually due to overuse. Quite often we find that baby boomers have participated in a sports activity years ago as young adults and think they can resume the same activity in the 40s or 50s without any modifications.
Decades of running, jumping, and pounding damage tendons, cartilage, or bone and such injuries will lead to arthritis. If a person already has arthritis, sprains, tears and breaks will exacerbate the inflammatory process causing more pain.
Wabi-sabi celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.”
Before my mother devolved into dementia she always reminded me that I climbed out of my crib at nine months and never slowed down.
In 2004 at the age of 50, I not only slowed I stopped after blowing out a knee causing an orthopedist to inform me that if I ever wanted to bear weight on my left leg again, he would have to cut my knee open, detach and reattach my left patella, sew me back up and cast my leg for six weeks.
The soonest he could operate was three weeks out and on the evening before I was to go under the knife, Hurricane Jeanne blew over our sanctuary and downed forty foot Pine trees all along our country driveway.
No electricity and a demolished pool screen was more than enough chaos at home and after three weeks of rest much of my pain had eased, so I cancelled the operation and asked the orthopedist for a prescription for physical therapy.
After telling me it would not help he gave in. I got better and after discharge from physical therapy I attended two Pilates Reformer classes a week.
However, living in Florida with a back yard pool my favorite activity is moving while being submerged.
However, in 2013 even gently moving my knee under water was excruciating and my shoulders felt nearly as bad!
My daily fast walks had turned into surprise torture for I could walk as normal until my knee would lock with a stabbing sensation, which paralyzed me for a few seconds. Only after a few deep breathes would my knee ease and could I move again.
A new orthopedist took x-rays of both knees and shoulders and informed me I had no cartilage in either knee and end-stage osteoarthritis in both shoulders.
Total bilateral knee replacements were scheduled for four weeks out but all the resting I did enabled enough healing so that I also cancelled that surgery.
After getting the OK from my Family Physician I began the practice of Yoga in October 2013.
The orthopedist warned me I would be back for the surgery.
I learned that with a consistent practice of gentle yin and restore asanas [poses or positions that are held for a few or more minutes] and a daily practice of yoga nidra: I am getting older and feeling better!
My knee and shoulder joints cause sensation but NOT pain and there are some days I do need to massage a light dose of Voltaren Gel into my knee and shoulder joints. But contrary to two years ago, every day I now move in ease whether I am walking fast, swimming, doing housework or at my work as a spiritually driven political activist reporter.
I credit the healing in my joints to multiple things and it began with acceptance then action!
I had to change my ways and once I quit doing all the things that had exacerbated my joints they got their chance to rest and restore so they could heal.
Much of my healing has come through my teachers at One Yoga Studio.
Yogi Jenny began a yoga fundamentals class by introducing us to Wabi-Sabi the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfections. Jenny always reminds us to be compassionate to ourselves by not over doing any asana/pose and compassion calls us to see that our weaknesses are exactly what make us perfectly: imperfect!
The original meaning included sad, desolate, and lonely, but has now come to mean simple, unmaterialistic, humble, in tune with nature and just as content with abundance as with nothing.
Sabi by itself means “the bloom of time”. The ancient definition of sabi was “to be desolate” but now is understood as “to grow old.”
By the thirteenth century, sabi’s meaning had evolved into taking pleasure in things that were old and faded.
Sabi things carry their years with dignity and grace.
The yoga positions/poses/asanas that we practice in the West are less than 100 years old.
The 5,000-year-old yoga wisdom tradition is about breathing, meditation and stillness.
Yoga can be a healing practice but it also can cause serious injury.
Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit.
Yoga gives energy-NOT depletes it.
Yoga equips us with skills for ALL of life: Intention in action with detachment from outcome.
Yoga does not fix people but can equip people to retain [or regain!] freedom, comfort and ease of movement and that requires balancing flexibility and strength.
As long as people breathe and can follow simple directions they can do yoga safely.
Being a spiritually driven political activist I am writing this because the number two reason Americans seek medical attention is for knee pain [cough being first.]
Orthopedists perform more surgery on Americans knees than on any other American body part.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, doctors perform more than 800,000 knee and hip replacements every year.
Eighteen months after saying NO to bilateral total knee replacements my knees rarely bother me and when they do ‘bite’ it is always because I over did!
Experience is the quickest teacher and my daily practice of Yoga Nidra, [began in September 2014] taught me the swiftest way to balance my body, mind and spirit is through the practice of Yoga Nidra.
Yoga Nidra is a traditional yoga practice of guided meditation, which relaxes the body as one pays attention to specific areas and sensations while breathing in a deep slow smooth rhythm.
Yoga Nidra promotes such deep relaxation that it literally transforms the brain!
A study by Hans C. Lou et al in 1999 concluded that Yoga Nidra quiets the prefrontal region of the brain and arouses the posterior visual system – comparable to REM sleep.
In the 1970s, scientists began measuring brain waves of yogis and others with a consistent practice of meditation.
Studies consistently proved their brains slowed from beta to alpha within minutes even in the midst of distraction and noise.
Brain wave patterns that oscillate at a high frequency between 13-36 oscillations per second are called beta brain waves. This pattern shows up when the human mind is busy analyzing information, is stressed or multi-tasks.
Alpha wave patterns appear when the mind is relaxed yet alert and oscillations pulse at approximately 6-13 oscillations per second.
When brain waves slow down to the alpha state and theta wave patterns; the brain’s hyper-rational “executive decision-maker” network is quieted and other parts of the brain associated with unconscious are aroused which leads to insight and increased creativity.
Yoga Nidra is the master key for self-transformation. It can be used to initiate the power of the soul and to turn your hidden, inner potentiality into reality.
René Descartes a 17th-century French philosopher-mathematician concluded that the pineal gland was the seat of the soul.
The pineal gland is also called the master gland and is about the size of a pea located behind the pituitary gland.
Unlike much of the rest of the brain, the pineal gland is not isolated from the body by the blood-brain barrier system.
The pineal gland works in harmony with the hypothalamus gland, which directs thirst, hunger, sexual desire and the biological clock that determines our aging process.
The pineal gland produces the hormone called melatonin which regulates human daily body rhythms that deal directly with the day and night cycles.
In humans, melatonin secretion increases after a person is placed in the dark and decreases after exposure to light.
Melatonin production is high in infancy and childhood and declines with age. The gland is relatively large in children and begins to shrink with the onset of puberty.
Modern imaging techniques reveal that the pineal gland becomes more or less calcified in most people.
Yoga Nidra increases melatonin production and some claim melatonin is the fountain of youth.
Having suffered for years from baby boomer overuse syndrome, my interest in The Master Gland/Third Eye was ignited by my first experience of Yoga Nidra and being a spiritually driven political activist, I wrote that story at “Couples Yoga and Politics of Coupling with Medical Ramifications”