In 2015, The New York Times published an article that offered a strong picture of what bone health could look like for women and men practicing yoga despite diagnoses of osteopenia and osteoporosis.
In a study that lasted ten years, none of the 741 participants, who were, on average, 68 years old, reported any new fractures as a result of their 12-minute yoga practice. All 227 participants who performed the yoga routine at least once every two days showed increased bone density in their spines and femurs.
Harvard Medical School, among other places, has continued research since the publication of this piece to gain a better understanding of the benefits that yoga can have on bone health.
Let’s take a look at the five key poses that were used in this research and see how they can benefit bone health.
Tree Pose, as a one-legged standing balance posture, is an excellent choice to cultivate stability in your hips, ankles, and knees. This pose helps you find a connection with the earth and realign your spine and core in relation to it. Your posture will improve with less effort if you extend energy from the ground through your spine. By practicing balancing one foot on the basis, you will train your body not to falter and fall.
Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
Triangle pose is another asymmetrical posture that asks you to shift your weight forward from your hips to your shoulders. You learn to balance “off-center” by doing this.
This pose also allows you to take a twist in your spine, giving you a better understanding of the muscles of your back, side, and front. This pose helps you to find your quadratuslumborum (side core) and oblique muscle by keeping your spine straight and extending your midback.
Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)
Bridge Pose requires you to bear down strongly into the ground with your feet, knees, and ankles, as well as your shoulders and arms. Bridge Pose is beneficial for your spine in addition to providing weight-bearing benefits to these bones. Bridge Pose, as an inverted position (your pelvis and heart move beneath your head), reverses gravity’s pull on your spine. This eases compression in your spinal cord.
Supta Padangustasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)
The forward-folding positions of standing and sitting are not recommended for osteopenia or osteoporosis due to the pressure placed on the spine. However, the Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose provides the same benefits (lengthening of the spinal column and practicing healthy body mechanics through learning to “hinge from the hips”) without putting pressure on the spine.
Yoga is a mixture of doing and being. Savasana is the ideal balance for your need to “do” something to achieve a goal. It re-establishes that rest and health are important. This pose helps you learn to trust your body’s intelligence and to give it the time and space necessary to adapt to new stretching, stabilizing, and balancing techniques.
Yoga poses can be harmful or healing. The study participants were taught each of these poses under the supervision of a professional certified on DVD. The study recommended that each pose should be held for at least 30 seconds and that breathing and integration periods precede the next posture. Find good advice if you’re considering a regular yoga practice as a way to improve your bone health.