Step into these nine bone-strengthening yoga poses to regain stability in your entire body.
Osteoporosis, meaning “porous bones”, is a bone loss condition that increases the risk of fracture. Bone mass peaks in the late teens and early 20s, steadily declining after that. (1) Older women are especially at risk for osteoporosis because estrogen – the hormone that protects us against bone loss – greatly decreases after menopause. About 50% of women and 20% of men age 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. (2)
Whether you are suffering from osteoporotic bone loss or concerned about it as you age, it’s never too late to start improving your bone density.
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Exercise For Healthy Bones
Luckily, no matter where you are in life, there are natural ways to build up healthy bones. A 10-year study assessed the effectiveness of selected yoga postures in raising bone mineral density (BMD) over a ten-year period. The results showed that the bone mineral density improved in the spine, hips, and femur of the participants. (3) Another study found that yogic practices including asana, pranayama (breathwork), and Surya Namaskar (sun salutations), improved BMD in postmenopausal osteoporotic women. (4)
Important Tips for Practicing Yoga:
- Check with your doctor before beginning any yoga program, especially if you’ve been diagnosed with an osteoporotic bone condition.
- Always listen to your body. Stop if a pose ever feels painful.
- Take it slow. Be mindful as you move into and out of each pose.
- Stay with your breath. Keep a steady pace with your inhales and exhales throughout the duration of your yoga routine.
Yoga for Osteoporosis
These nine yoga poses can help reverse osteoporotic bone loss. (5) All you need is a yoga mat, a block and a strap to get started!
Tree Pose | 5 breaths per side
This pose builds strength and stability in the bones of the feet, ankles, calves, thighs, and hips.
- Start standing on your mat with your feet together. Bring your palms together in front of your heart. Draw your navel in and squeeze your shoulders down your back to bring you into an upright posture. Engage your quadriceps.
- Find a steady gaze point out in front of you. Root down into your right foot and slowly pick your left foot up off the mat.
- Place the sole of your left foot onto the inside of your right calf or thigh, being sure to avoid the knee joint.
- Continue rooting down through your right foot and growing tall through the crown of your head.
- Hold for five steady breaths, then switch sides.
Triangle Pose | 8 breaths per side
Also known as Trikonasana, triangle pose improves bone health in the feet, legs, core, and arms.
- Start standing on your mat with your right foot a few feet in front of your left. Your right foot should point forward and your left foot should be at a 90-degree angle. Place a yoga block on the inside of your right foot.
- Stand tall, extend your arms out to the sides and reach towards the front and back of your mat.
- Inhale to reach your right arm forward and shift your hips back.
- Exhale to tick-tock your arms to a 12 and 6 o’clock position, placing your right hand on the block.
- Reach up with your left hand and stack your left shoulder over your right. Stack your left hip over your right. Lean back slightly as though there is a wall behind you. Keep your quads and abs engaged the whole time.
- Hold for five to eight breaths, then switch sides.
Warrior 2 | 10 breaths per side
This standing pose builds strength and stamina in the feet, ankles, legs, core, shoulders, and arms.
- Begin standing sideways on your mat with your feet out wide. Then, turn your right foot so that the toes face the top of your mat.
- Bend your right knee, bringing the thigh parallel to your mat. Reach your arms out to a T- shape, spreading your fingers wide. Gaze over your right fingertips.
- Keep your left thigh firm and your abs engaged.
- Hold for ten breaths, then switch sides.
Extended Side Angle | 8 breaths per side
This pose builds bone density in the feet, ankles, legs, and core.
- Start in a low lunge position on your mat with your right foot forward.
- Spin your left heel down so that it is at a 90-degree angle and the heel of your right foot is aligned with the arch of your left foot. Then, pick up your right hand and place the forearm on your thigh.
- Inhale to reach your left arm up overhead, opening your chest to the left. Stack your left shoulder over your right and try to press your right hip forward. Keep your abs and left quadriceps engaged and reach up through your left fingertips.
- Hold for five to eight breaths and then switch sides.
Revolved Triangle | 8 breaths per side
This twisting pose builds strength through the feet, legs, core, and shoulders.
- Begin in a low lunge with your hands framing your right foot. Hop your left foot up a couple of inches so that you can place your left heel down and point your toes out at a 45-degree angle. Place a block on the inside of your right foot.
- Rest your left hand on the block and lift your chest so that your back is flat. Engage your abs.
- Inhale to reach your right arm up overhead, twisting your body to the right. Keep your back heel rooted, your abs engaged and your quads firm.
- Hold for five to eight breaths, then switch sides.
Locust Pose | 8 breaths
This back-strengthening pose builds bone density in the spine, shoulders, arms, and legs.
- Start by lying down on your belly. Place your forehead on the mat so the back of your neck is long. Reach your arms back alongside your body with your palms facing down and squeeze your legs together.
- Take an inhale and lift your chest, thighs, and feet off the ground.
- Turn your palms in and lift up through your pinkies to engage your triceps. Reach back through your toes.
- Hold for five to eight breaths and then slowly release.
Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Pose | 8 breaths per side
This supine stretch builds bone density in the legs.
- Begin lying down on your back with both legs straight down the mat. Hold a strap or belt in one hand.
- Bend your right knee and loop the strap around the bottom of your right foot. Hold one end of the strap in each hand.
- Slowly straighten your right leg until there is a slight bend in the knee, letting the strap get longer if you need to. Then, use the strap to gently guide your leg across your body until you feel a stretch through the hamstrings and calf.
- Hold for eight breaths, then switch legs.
Bridge Pose | 10 breaths
This gentle back-bending pose strengthens the spine, thigh bones, and shoulders.
- Start lying down on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Place your arms down alongside your body with your palms facing down. Walk your feet hip-width distance apart and line your ankles up under your knees.
- Press your palms into the floor as you inhale and lift your hips up towards the ceiling.
- Draw your navel up and in towards your spine to engage your abs and keep your inner thighs engaged. Hold for ten slow breaths.
Seated Twist | 8 breaths per side
This powerful seated posture can help improve the density of the spine.
- Begin seated on your mat with your legs straight out in front of you.
- Bend your right leg and cross it over your left, bringing your right foot outside of your left thigh.
- Sit up tall and engage your abs. Place your right hand on the ground behind your right hip. Then, on an exhale, twist right and wrap your left arm around the front of your right shin, hugging it into your chest. Keep the back of your neck long and gaze straight ahead or over your right shoulder.
- Hold for eight breaths and then switch sides.
(Your Next Workout: 10 Anti-Aging Yoga Poses)