Why Is Bone Health Important
Bone health is important for longevity, brain health, overall enjoyment of life, and mobility. All of the bones in your body are important, but arguably one of the most important sequences of bones is your spinal column, which is made up of 24 vertebrae.
In yoga, the spinal column is also known as the pranic tube, or the energy pathway through which life force energy travels as directed by and connected to the breath. Hindrances or subluxations in the spinal column are known to be the causes of a variety of health issues, from hormonal problems to headaches, mental health issues, and more.
The strongest bone in your body is your femur bone. It is your thigh bone, which attaches to the hip socket in the pelvis and extends toward the tibia-knee joint. It is an essential bone because it connects to two major joints, the knee, and hip joints, and performs essential functions.
Before You Start: Yoga Foundations
If youre new to yoga, its a good idea to check in with your medical professional before getting started to make sure its suitable for you. I also recommend following along with a qualified instructor to start. That way, you can learn the basics of a safe practice.
For example, I studied how to teach yoga for osteoporosis with Dr. Fishman. So my videos are a good place to start.
But to give you a quick introduction, here are the basic principles of yoga:
You dont need much equipment to practice yoga. But there are a couple props I reference in the yoga poses to follow. The good news is, you can easily swap in common household items for most of these props!
Heres a table outlining basic yoga equipment, and how to make do without:
|A towel, large woven blanket, or carpet that wont slip|
|Yoga block||A stack of books wrapped in a towel, one thick book, or a shoebox filled with towels to make it solid|
|Yoga strap||A regular belt, robe tie, mens tie, or piece of rope|
|Chair||A folding chair, dining room chair, or non-swivel desk chair would work best|
|Wall||If you dont have an unobstructed wall to use, you may need to clear some space for your practice, or set up in a space like a garage|
How To Do Downward
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It Helps You Feel More Energetic
Doing yoga can increase your energy level in two ways. First, it helps relieve stress, which can sap your energy.
Secondly, yoga is about connecting breath with movement, which means you breathe more deeply. All that mindful breathing forces oxygen out to your cells, which helps awaken you. One study connected yoga poses to increased feelings of energy and self-esteem.
Osteoporosis can reduce your confidence in your own body and fill you with worry. Yoga can be a balm for that anxiety, and help you feel more like yourself.
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Postures To Avoid: The Don’ts
Follow these additional yoga for osteoporosis guidelines to keep your bones safe and to build bone density and bone strength.1. Avoid flexing the spine forward to stretch the back, legs, or abdominal muscles. Several reclining poses can accomplish the same goal.2. Avoid twisting the spine in a way that uses gravity or leverage for rotation. Any type of rotation should be introduced slowly using simple movements without force.3. Approach backbends cautiously and gently, and avoid overarching the back. Gently supported backbends, as with a rolled towel, can help restore posture.4. Avoid supporting your entire body weight with your hands to avoid wrist fractures, a common problem with osteoporosis. Other poses, such as Mudras, arm movements, or sustained arm positions, can build arm and wrist muscles and bones.5. Standing poses and balances are excellent for increasing leg strength, but they should be done with the help of a teacher and the support of a wall or chair, as the risk of fracture is increased in these positions.6. Inversions are never recommended. Rather, try restorative poses such as the Legs-Up-the-Wall pose.There are numerous other important ways in which yoga benefits people with osteoporosis, such as improving balance, muscular strength, range of motion, and coordination while lessening anxiety, says Dr. Fishman. These are other important benefits of yoga for people with osteoporosis because they each help reduce the risk of falling.
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Yoga May Improve Scoliosis
Scoliosis is often thought of as a condition that cannot improve, but yoga seems to have the ability to improve the curvature of the spine associated with scoliosis. In fact, a study showed that spinal curvature can be reduced with only one yoga pose on three days per week. The results were seen after only three months of this practice.
Benefits For Postmenopausal Bone Loss
Before age 30, your body typically builds more bone than it loses. After age 35, bone breaks down faster than it builds up, which causes the body to gradually lose bone mass.
People born with uteruses are more likely to develop osteoporosis as they get older because the rate of bone breakdown increases after menopause. This is because estrogen is generally protective of bones, but menopause causes levels of this hormone to drop.
Yoga seems to be particularly effective at helping postmenopausal people improve and maintain bone density. In a small 2016 study, 30 women, ages 45 to 62, with postmenopausal osteoporosis did a one-hour yoga session four days a week for six months. At the end of the study, the participants’ average T-scores had significantly improved.
Additional studies have confirmed these results, but more research is needed to determine how yoga stimulates bone formation and how often the practice must be done to see improvements.
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Minutes Of Yoga For Bone Health
Yoga enthusiasts link the practice to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness and self-esteem.
But definitively proving these benefits is challenging, requiring years of costly research. A pharmaceutical company is unlikely to fund a study that doesnt involve a drug, and in any event, the research requires a large group of volunteers tracked over a very long time.
The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated.
No one knows these challenges better than Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For years, he has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.
The idea is not widely accepted in the medical community, but then, researchers know comparatively little about complementary medicine in general. So in 2005, Dr. Fishman began a small pilot study of yoga moves that turned up some encouraging results. Eleven practitioners had increased bone density in their spine and hips, he reported in 2009, compared with seven controls who did not practice yoga.
Many of those who avoided drugs were trying to avoid gastrointestinal problems.
Root Cause Of Osteoporosis
The outer covering or the compact of our bones are made of porous material, osteons. It is the right balance of porosity that maintains proper strength and flexibility. In osteoporosis Osteoporosis Overview , the porosity of osteons increases, resulting in loss of density.
The osteons forming the outer structure of the bones are packed neither too densely nor too loosely. This arrangement gives the outer structure a porous nature. Thus its obvious that any abnormality with the osteons that interferes with their arrangement will disturb the porous nature.
So what causes this change is the main question. A major factor is obviously age at old age our cells lack in their regenerative abilities. A family history of osteoporosis or issues like thyroid disorder, can also lead to osteoporosis.
Additionally, lack of calcium and phosphorus in your diet can be a cause. Unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking, and lack of exercise are also equally regarded as potential causes of osteoporosis.
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How To Practice Yoga With Osteoporosis Modification & Tips
Even though most yoga is low or no-impact, jumping into any yoga practice can be dangerous. The term yoga includes many different types of exercises, including movements that can be done in a chair as well as flows that resemble a gymnastics course. Not all yoga is the same with every style of yoga and instructor practicing differently.
That being said, knowing to what degree your bones have degenerated is important to avoid risks of fractures, which is why you should first consult your medical professional.
Factors to consider when deciding on the ideal yoga program for you:
- Target audience
- Type of yoga
- Focus of the Program
- Instructors teaching style
Those with osteopenia have greater freedom and range with what they can include in their practice.
However, for those that have osteoporosis, especially those who have developed thoracic kyphosis or have had any fractures, yoga should be cautiously approached.
When Yoga May Be Too Much
Research conducted by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN indicates that specific yoga poses could actually lead to more damage to both bones and soft tissue for people with osteoporosis.
The study looked at a group of 89 people with osteoporosis who identified injuries theyd sustained as resulting from their yoga practice.
Soft tissue injuries included rotator cuff injury and bursitis of the hip joint.
A bone deformity known as kyphosis was observed among many of these patients. So was spondylolisthesis, a slipping of the vertebra at the base of the spine. Compression fractures of the lower spinal vertebrae were also common.
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Yoga Relaxes You To Help You Sleep Better
Research shows that a consistent bedtime yoga routine can help you get in the right mindset and prepare your body to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Try It: Legs-Up-the-Wall PoseSit with your left side against a wall, then gently turn right and lift your legs up to rest against the wall, keeping your back on the floor and your sitting bones close to the wall. You can remain in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
What Should I Avoid
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Yoga Poses For Bone Health
Any yoga flow will help encourage bone formation. Aim to do at least two 30-minute sessions per week.
To get started, you may want to try the yoga routine created specifically for bone health for the 2016 study. Each of the 12 poses is to be held for 30 seconds, followed by a 30-second pause.
Verywell / Joules Garcia
This 12-minute routine, developed by Loren Fishman, MD, is meant to be performed daily. Dr. Fishman has provided an instructional video. This video shows how to do the poses with modifications for experience level and safety concerns, such as those who have osteoporosis.
The poses described below are the classical pose format. When you begin yoga for the first time, make sure you do so under the guidance of a qualified instructor. Also, make any modifications as needed, such as those in Dr. Fishman’s video.
You Can Improve Your Balance
Yoga is a great way to train and improve your balance. Better balance can reduce your risk of falling. The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health reports solid data on yoga and balance.
Of 15 studies on the effect of yoga on balance in healthy people, 11 showed balance improvements.
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How To Get Started With Yoga If You Have Osteoporosis
If youre interested in yoga, a great first step is to ask your doctor whether they recommend yoga for you. And ask if they can recommend classes specifically for people with osteoporosis or instructors who have training on safe postures and transitions for people with osteoporosis.
If youre looking on your own, a few tips to consider:
- Start with a beginner class. Classes are often rated beginner, intermediate, or advanced. You can also look for words like gentle or restorative in the class title.
- Try different types of yoga. Hatha yoga is a basic type of yoga and a good place to start.
- Make sure the teacher is a certified yoga instructor with expertise in this area. Different studios and fitness centers have different certification programs.
- Tell the instructor about any issues or concerns you have.
- Never be afraid to ask for modifications of poses or use yoga blocks.
- Listen to your body. A pose may be challenging, but stop if you feel pain..
- Beware of forward bends. A Yoga International article recommends that people with osteoporosis skip these altogether. This is especially true if youve had fractures in your upper back.
Healing Osteoporosis With Yoga
Healing osteoporosis with yoga is holistic and sensible. Keeping aside the fact that yoga can directly influence your bone system Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss , it can also influence other body systems that indirectly benefit or harm your bone health.
The outer material of your bones has blood vessels running within them, carrying nutrients. Lack of nutrients for the bone cells is a major issue in osteoporosis. Yoga helps you increase the blood flow in bone blood vessels, for better nutrition.
The practice of yoga can uplift your aggregate physical vitality and enrich your life force, which will restore the regenerative abilities of your bone cells. Experts say that every time you hold a pose, it stimulates osteoblasts to create new osteocytes
And finally, regular exercise and stretching of your bones, keep your bone cells, osteocytes, active enough to maintain their numbers. Osteocytes and their interactions with minerals establish the solid structure of bones. Regular practice of yoga will ensure a healthy interaction between osteocytes and minerals.
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What Should You Avoid
This is for everyone with osteoporosis, but even more so if youve already developed thoracic kyphosis. You should avoid forward folding or twisting while your spine is in a rounded C-shape, which increases the risk of compression fractures. So how do you practice yoga?
This sounds like a lot, but there are still many other poses that can safely let you bear weight and stimulate bone density growth.
Yoga Keeps The Fluid In Joints Working Properly
Yoga helps to increase the amount of fluid in joints. The fluid in joints keeps them moving smoothly. Without enough synovial fluid, joints tend to grind. The grinding can cause joint pain and arthritis. Furthermore, there is no diet or medication that can increase the amount of synovial fluid in joints.
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Supta Padangusthasana Or Supine Hand To Foot I Pose
The supta padangusthasana or supine hand to foot I pose can help with bone health by stretching the muscles on both legs and hips at the same time , helping with pelvic alignment. The pose also helps reduce the risk of injury to the lumbar spine or lower back.18If you already have back pain, it can ease the pain. It also strengthens the knees.19
Some Yoga Poses Are Risky
In order to verify the link between the practice of yoga and the experience of additional injuries in people with osteoporosis, the research team analyzed the health records of 89 individuals.
Each had begun seeking treatment at the Mayo Clinic between 2006 and 2018 due to pain that they thought had been caused by yoga participation.
Some were yoga beginners, while others were adept practitioners, but they all experienced pain in one or more of the following areas: their back, neck, shoulders, hips, or knees.
When asked, the participants pointed to 12 specific yoga poses as having either caused them pain or worsened existing pain, and most of these required flexing or extending the spine.
These included poses such as Downward-Facing Dog, Bridge Pose, and the Supported Headstand.
Using these participants health records, medical exams, and imaging results, the researchers categorized the injuries sustained as bone injuries, soft tissue injuries, or joint injuries.
In the end, the investigators concluded that, among the study participants, specific yoga poses had led to 29 types of bone injuries, which included disk degeneration, vertebrae slippage, and compression fractures, likely due to poses that exacerbated the pressure on disks and vertebrae.
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