Most of us know what yoga is these days. People are excited about the benefits of yoga, including improved flexibility and reduced stress. Some people even lose weight, improve their heart health, and become mindful eaters by practicing yoga. The following yoga sessions are excellent postures that will help you improve bone density and control osteoporosis.
In fact, there is another benefit of this form of exercise that people often overlook: strong bones. New research shows that yoga can help strengthen bones to prevent fractures and osteoporosis as we age.
Here's how you could benefit from a simple 12-minute yoga sequence to improve the health and strength of your bones.
Symptoms and treatment of osteoporosis
First, let's talk a little more about osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is a condition in which the bones weaken and become more prone to fractures. Osteoporosis affects millions of people around the world and is responsible for almost 9 million fractures each year.
Women are at the highest risk for osteoporosis. Hormonal changes during menopause are responsible for a drop in estrogen that can increase the likelihood of osteoporosis.
Osteoporosis is typically asymptomatic with the exception of a handful of symptoms as the condition progresses, including back pain, affected posture, and bone fractures that would not have otherwise occurred.
So how is osteoporosis usually treated?
Your doctor can advise you to start a regimen of vitamin D and calcium supplements and there are also pharmaceutical medications that are prescribed.
However, there are alternative ways to treat osteoporosis, including exercising, eating healthy, and doing yoga!
Research results on yoga and osteoporosis
In a study published in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, researchers conducted a 10-year study of more than 700 people to measure changes in bone mineral density when participants regularly performed a 12-minute yoga session.
The results? Bone mineral density improved in the spines, hips, and femurs of patients who were fully compliant with the regimen and no serious injuries were reported.
The study concluded that yoga appears to safely increase bone mineral density.
The researchers noted that yoga's ability to improve balance and coordination helps prevent falls that contribute to fractures in people with osteoporosis.
The participants, whose average age was 68, practiced the yoga routine at least every other day for two years. Before the study began, 83% of the participants had below-average bone density. Scans at the end of the study showed "significant increases" in bone density.
It's important to note that while the research shows that yoga can be helpful for people living with osteoporosis, and perhaps even important for preventing osteoporosis, the study doesn't prove that yoga completely reverses bone loss.
However, the study suggests that yoga has the potential to help reverse some of the bone loss caused by osteopenia or osteoporosis.
Yoga poses you can do
So what yoga poses does this 12 minute sequence consist of exactly? Here are the following nine poses for bone health.
Vrikshasana: tree pose
In this yoga session, you stand, bend your right knee as you rotate your right thigh outward (but don't rotate your pelvis). Your right foot should be placed on the ankle or knee of your left leg (being careful not to place it on the knee). Place your hands in front of your chest in a prayer position with your palms touching. Hold for 30 seconds and breathe slowly and deeply as you do.
Utthita Trikonasana: Extended Triangle Pose
Stand with your legs wide apart. Rotate your left leg so that your knee and foot rotate 90 degrees. Stretch your torso over your left leg. Placing your hand on your left shin, stretch your right arm in the air. Hold for 30 seconds and breathe slowly and deeply.
Virabhadrasana II: Warrior Pose II
Again, standing with your feet open and turning your left leg as in the previous pose, bend your left knee over your left heel. Extend your arms to both sides at shoulder height. Hold for 30 seconds.
Utthita Parsvakonasana: Extended Side Angle Pose
When you come out of Warrior II pose, stretch your torso and lower your left forearm onto your left thigh. Raising your right arm just above your right ear, stretch from your right heel to your fingertips.
Salabhasana: Lobster Pose
Lie face down on your yoga mat with your arms across your torso. Lift your chest as you lift your legs together, stretching them behind you. Try not to strain as you raise your arms along your torso pointing towards your feet and hold the position for 30 seconds, breathing slowly and deeply as you do.
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana: Bridge Pose
Lie on your back this time, then bend your knees. Lift your hips and torso, using your feet to push up, but keep your arms on the mat. Interlock your fingers underneath you and push on your shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds.
Supta Padangusthasana I: Reclining Hand to Big Toe Posture I
Stay on your back, but this time we will use an accessory. Find a strap (a belt will work) and loop around the ball of your left foot, keeping the end of each strap in your left hand. Lengthen your left leg, lifting it skyward without lifting your left hip.
Supta Padangusthasana II: Reclining Hand to Big Toe Pose II
Stay in the previous position and hold both ends of the strap in your left hand. Keep the right side of your body grounded as you extend your left leg to the left side and lower it to the floor.
You can repeat the reclining hand to big toe postures I and II on the right side as well for additional benefits.
Savasana: Corpse Pose
This one is easy for you to take a break at the end of your yoga session. You simply lie on your back with your legs hip-width apart and let your feet rest pointing away from your body. Place your arms down next to your body with your palms facing up. Rest as long as you feel you need.
That's! For just 12 minutes every day, you could improve your bone strength, not to mention your flexibility, balance, and better control of stress.
Yoga for bone health
Although more research is needed on bone health and yoga, the study contains encouraging information that those with osteoporosis can use yoga as an effective, easy, and cost-effective way to manage the condition.
You can also talk to your doctor about how nutrition and weight training can help nourish and build bones, especially if you are looking to prevent osteoporosis.
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