You have probably heard about the connection between weight-bearing exercises and improved bone density. But did you know that yoga postures can improve your bone health?
A compelling study on yoga and bone mineral density came out back in late 2015 after a decade of research, revealing new findings that support recommending yoga as a therapy for people experiencing bone loss. More specifically, the researchers recruited 741 volunteer participants and had them practice a specific 12 minute yoga routine each morning. The average age of participants was 68 and 83% were diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia. 227 people (202 women, 25 men) completed the ten-year study.
Studies revealed that bone density of the spine and femur improved in the 227 moderately and fully compliant patients, during a period of people’s lives when gaining bone density is rare and many lose bone density. The lead researcher, Dr. Loren M. Fishman of Columbia University, was also interested in the safety of yoga postures for people who have suffered from bone loss. There were no reported fractures or serious injuries of any kind throughout the study. Dr. Fishman concluded that yoga appears to be safe for people with osteoporosis and osteopenia.
What does this have to do with you?
Well, we strive to provide opportunities to experience yoga wherever you are at in life. To meet your needs, our schedule integrates a variety of classes from yoga therapeutics to yoga basics to more physically strenuous experiences. We know you are not always able to come to class, so this 12 minute routine can support you in your daily practice… Plus this research-based daily dozen will keep your bone mineral density building, which is important for all ages and body types!
When I came across the study I loved the fact that there is a specific routine that takes just 12 minutes… and the postures have benefits beyond building bone mineral density. Just 12 minutes of yoga can calm the fluctuations of the mind and provide a graceful moving meditation that can prepare you for your day, or help you let down during the evening.
According to the research:
“Osteoporosis and osteopenia affect up to 200 000 000 people worldwide today, with numbers likely to grow with our aging population. Many people are without access to medications or professional help after the fractures that are more likely without them. A low-cost, low-risk alternative is desirable.
Yoga classes are a dramatically low-cost and less dangerous alternative to medications and the elaborate health care their absence is alleged to engender. The “side effects” of yoga include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety, and better gait. Improved posture directly addresses spinal fractures, while all of these documented benefits of yoga reduce the risk of falling, which is the main cause of all other osteoporotic fractures. The current study examines the proposition that yoga is a safe and effective means of preventing osteoporosis-related fracture.”
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The following 12 postures were selected to increase bone density in the femur, pelvis, and spine. According to the research report, “yoga poses were selected specifically to produce torque and bending of the proximal femur, compression of the pelvis, and twisting of the lumbar vertebral bodies.”
As you move through each posture, breath deeply, find your alignment, and dedicate one minute, or 10 deep breaths, to each posture. When postures require that you practice two sides, hold each side for 30 seconds or five deep breaths. Allow your breath to be your guide and create a short flow… And practice daily!
We recommend starting with the standing postures and slowly making your way to seated and reclined postures, ending with savanna. If you desire a longer flow, simply hold each posture for an additional five breaths and allow more time in savasana.
So we now know there are proven physical benefits when we practice a specific set of yoga postures every day- and these benefits run deep into our bones! We are so grateful for this research. As teachers, it is wonderful to have research to back our experience that gentle yoga is indeed safe for all people, even when significant bone loss has occurred Plus, now we have groundbreaking, factual evidence that yoga builds bone mineral density, helping us to age gracefully.
Beyond bone health, the act of paying attention balances the mind and body. Breathing deeply, discovering our alignment, and taking time to occupy our physical bodies with intentional awareness can add to the numerous benefits of this simple routine. It is no surprise that yoga postures are not only strengthening and toning, but therapeutic and restorative. Sometimes just by showing up to the mat every day, we discover hidden gems inside of our own beings, inviting forth our innate capacity to evolve and heal from the inside out- bones and all!
Tree Pose: http://www.self.com/story/morning-scoop-yoga-brain-effects-hm-isabel-marant
Triangle Pose: http://www.theyogatutor.com/trikona-asana
Reclining Hand-To-Big-Toe Postures: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/yoga-journal/ease-back-pain-with-a-10m_b_7181208.html
Spinal Twist: https://www.doyouyoga.com/10-yoga-postures-for-back-pain/
Locust Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/practice/locust-pose