Aging is a natural and somewhat inevitable process that affects the integrity of bones, muscles, joints and connective tissue elements (like cartilage, ligaments, tendons and other similar components). Clinical studies indicates that after the age of 40 years, the bones and tissues undergo a constant downhill course that increases the risk of fractures, dislocations, bone aches and other similar issues.
Needless to say that these ailments eventually affects the quality of your life and survival to a great deal. Although it is impossible to prevent the process of physiological aging, yet research suggests that certain interventions can definitely help in slowing down the pace and progression of age-related damage to vital biological tissues.
One such example is yoga exercises. According to a latest study published in the peer reviewed journal Geriatric Rehabilitation (1), investigators suggested that Yoga is a complete workout that helps in promoting better bone health, conditioning your joints and stimulating your connective tissue elements to support and stabilize the physical movements.
The study concluded:
“Yoga has the potential to decrease fracture risk in a geriatric population via several mechanisms, including improving balance, reducing fall risk and fear of falls, improving functioning, reducing hyperkyphosis, and improving bone turnover”
How Is Yoga Helpful In Promoting Better Bone Health?
Are you aware that yoga is one of the most ancient method of clinical and rehabilitative care with a history as old as 2000 BC? Various clinical trials and retrospective studies suggested that yoga exercises are helpful in promoting overall health and wellness. There are several reasons why yoga is so popular today despite tremendous advancement in the field of science and technology.
Yoga poses are easy, practical and convenient. It has been observed that unlike most conventional exercise and workout regimens, yoga poses and exercise sessions can be performed by individuals of all age groups and health statuses. This is mainly because yoga is a non-aggressive form of physical activity as compared to most traditional exercises and therefore do not require high energy levels or persistent repetitive activity across certain group of muscles or joints.
With aging, the inherent flexibility and strength of tissues decreases significantly. Needless to say that it can directly affect the stamina and endurance of an individual to perform normal daily functions. However, if you are a yoga practitioner, you can easily maintain your flexibility over years with simple, stress-free yoga maneuvers and poses.
Research report by Naciye Vardar Yağlı (2) and associates suggested that yoga improves coordination, posture, balance and remodeling within musculo-skeletal components to facilitate pain-free movements.
According to a report published in Yoga and Physical Therapy (2), yoga exercises are effectively used in Asian culture to manage contractures and joint disabilities (such as after polio, burn injuries, osteoporosis and rheumatoid arthritis).
Women who perform yoga exercises during pregnancy are more likely to give birth to healthy babies. Study conducted by Field (3) provided statistical evidence that the risk of premature birth and postnatal depression is low in mothers who perform yoga during pregnancy.
8 Recommended Yoga Poses For Better Bone Health
It has been observed that chronic bone and joint disorders can lead to mental and physical health issues due to pain, disability and emotional disturbances. However, based on the recommendations of a new study published in the Archives of Psychiatric Nursing (4), investigators suggested that yoga poses and exercises can effectively help in promoting mental health in elderly as well as young population.
Study suggested that patients of major depression and mood disorders reported significant improvement in their symptoms after incorporating yoga exercises to their daily regimen.
Listed below are top eight yoga poses that are known to improve bone health.
Yoga pose # 1: Extended Triangle Pose
Extended triangle pose can be used to increase the strength and fitness of your body in addition to bone health. This pose has three significant angles, which represent mind, body and soul. It is especially effective in alleviating the stress and strain in the lower abdominal region. Follow these simple steps:
- Stand on a clean dry surface (ideally a mat) and assume a mountain or hill like posture as shown in the figure.
- Keep left foot forward, while the right foot inclined to the right side of your body. Now twist the right side of your body in the same direction.
- Gently raise your arms, to make a T shape and exhale gently (make sure your palms face the ground at all times).
- Hinge your hip out, towards to right side and gently bring your hand over your head to the opposite side (make sure to maintain the T shape at all times).
- Move the left hand towards your feet while keeping your back straight and your torso leveled; such that the hand touch your ankles.
- To support your spine, you can squeeze in your lower belly which further adds strength to the pose.
Maintain this pose with gentle breathing and to end it, gently move your left arm towards your feet and exhale. Then, you can repeat this exercise on the opposite side.gf6yhfytg
Yoga Pose # 2: Bridge Pose
This pose is very useful for patients suffering from osteoporosis. It also helps in stretching your chest, neck, spine and lungs tissues to alleviate stress and strain after an acute or chronic spasm.
Follow these steps:
- For this, pose start by lying down, on your back on a mat.
- The shoulders should be kept flat against the body and squeeze in your hips.
- Now keep your feet flat on the mat, raise your knees and then lift yourself gently, but keep in mind that the distance between hips and feet should be as wide as possible.
- Gently bring your chest towards your chin, which should only be slightly tilted toward your main body.
- Next, tighten the hips to life the lower back, maintain the posture for at least one minute, and gently exhale to move back in a lying position.
Yoga Pose # 3: Sitting Twist
This pose helps in increasing the bone strength by subjecting the connective tissue framework to positive pressure. The twisting action pressurizes the bones, which stimulates the bone remodeling and mineral density. Too much pressure is ill advised (especially if you have an active injury or weak vulnerable bones as in osteoporosis).
Follow these steps:
- To make this pose, seat yourself on a mat with legs stretched.
- Now shift over to left of the hips and bring your legs over to the opposite side.
- The left ankle should be placed in such a way that it rests on the arch of right leg as shown in the figure.
- Inhale deeply and start twisting toward your right side, while keeping the hips as close as possible on the ground.
- Make sure that throughout the process, the back is kept straight and deep breathing is maintained.
To add support to this pose, you can bring your right arm behind your back to cling on to your left arm for support, or you could simply hold onto the ground to aid movement. Do not maintain this pose longer than a minute as it might pose your spinal vertebrae to unwanted pressure.
Yoga Pose # 4: Twisted Triangle Pose
This pose helps increase bone strength and promote better bone health. Therefore, it is best suited for individuals with joint and bone problems. In addition, it helps increase spine bone fitness.
- To make this pose stand on your mat in a mountain-like position i.e. legs stretched out and back straight.
- Next make a T shape out of your shoulder and direct your feet toward one side of the mat.
- Tightly keeping the hips squeezed, start moving your arms towards the outer foot, which is directed towards the mat.
- Still maintaining the T shape, move closer until you touch the foot, proper exhaling and inhaling will help maintain the posture for long, but do not exceed more than a minute on either side.
Yoga Pose # 5: Extended Side Angle Pose
Extended side angle pose gently stretches your body, to flex muscles bones and joints.
- To make this pose, stand on your mat and start by pointing the right foot towards the opposite side, while the left foot faces forward.
- Then extend the left arm and raise it toward the ceiling, until it stands straight, sidewise coordinate the bending of your chest and head in the same direction.
- The other arm can be used to support the posture by either keeping it behind the right foot or by using it to hold the right leg from the bottom.
Yoga Pose # 6: Locust pose
The locust pose helps stretch the back and abdominal region.
- To make this pose start by lying down on your stomach, while keeping the arms faced downwards.
- Join the legs and tighten the hips while exhaling at the same time.
- Now, gently raise your feet and head at the same time with a deep inhale.
- To add further support to this pose tighten the stomach and stretch the arms.
- Once the legs and feet are raised slightly, gently lift the arms as well, support your body on your abdomen only, and stretch your body to the fullest.
Yoga Pose # 7: Tree Pose
This pose is great for stretching your inner thighs and developing balance and strength in your normal day to day movements.
- For this pose, stand straight on your mat and keep your gaze and back straight.
- Gradually shift your weight on your left leg and slid the other foot on the knees of the left leg, such that your feet are flat against it.
- Next, raise your arms in the air and join them in a praying position. Maintain this posture for as long as possible with gently breathing.
Yoga Pose # 8: Half-moon Pose
This pose is very useful for osteoarthritis patients and individuals with chronic musculo-skeletal issues. Research and clinical data indicates that regular yoga practice can help in decreasing the musculo-skeletal pain by increasing the soft tissue and bone strength. It is also good for enhancing the natural strength and stability of the spine as well as abdomen and thigh muscles.
- For this, pose stand up on your mat in a mountain like position (as discussed above).
- Gently incline your feet towards the left side of your body and bend over to touch your left feet with your left hand.
- Exhale while shifting all your weight on your left leg and foot and gradually move your right foot in the air such that your right leg is perpendicular to your left leg.
- To balance the posture, lift your right arm in the air, keeping it as straight as the left arm.
This exercise can be upgraded by using blocks for support, in case of any medical hindrances. Also this can be done on either side of the body.
A latest research published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine (5) suggested that bi-weekly yoga regimen (with each session no more than 60 minutes) is sufficient to maintain optimum bone health in community dwellers. Study also reported that 2 or more yoga poses during each session can improve gait stability, physical posture, speed and range of motion of joint. Ideally, it is recommended to speak to a trained yoga professional before incorporating yoga postures in your workout regimen.
Alternatively, you may also consider getting the practical step by step guide written by Margaret Martin, PT, CSCS (a Certified Yoga Teacher and a Physical Therapist with over 27 years experience in helping individuals to achieve better bone health). This book, Yoga For Better Bones provide rich illustrations with clear photo images demonstrating the modifications to popular Yoga poses. Besides, it provides detailed and clear explanations of why you need to modify your Yoga practice especially if you have low bone density or osteoporosis. Click here to find out more.