How can “oms” help your bones? Yoga can have tremendous benefits for our physical and mental health when practiced safely. The stretching and strengthening involved in completing poses boost fitness. The breathing practice helps us create calm and channel our energy. Did you know there’s growing evidence that yoga can also benefit bone health and prevent osteoporosis?
What Are the Benefits of Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice combining physical, mental, and spiritual disciplines. American yoga classes generally use a series of movements and poses (asanas) to strengthen and stretch our bodies. Yoga classes also focus on breathing techniques to help us flow through our practice and focus our minds. Yoga is an excellent form of exercise. You might have a stereotype in mind when you think of a yoga practitioner: a super-fit individual doing a backbend or twist. However, yoga can be modified for all ages and body types. Yoga can help with the following:
- Boosts strength.
- Increases flexibility.
- Improves posture and balance.
- Reduces stress and anxiety and supports emotional well-being.
- Promotes mindfulness.
- Recent studies also spotlight yoga’s benefits to bone health and osteoporosis prevention.
How Can Yoga Help with Bone Health?
In recent years, research has shown that regularly completing weight-bearing poses can benefit bone health and prevent osteoporosis.
A 2015 study in the journal “Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation” suggests that 12 minutes of yoga a day can prevent bone loss. The study looked at the hips and spines of participants who practiced a specific series of yoga poses at least every other day. Participants who completed the short yoga sequence regularly showed significant increases in bone density in the spine. According to Harvard Health Publishing, while the study doesn’t provide conclusive evidence that yoga can reverse bone loss, it offers promising evidence that yoga may be a tool in promoting bone health.
Does It Matter What Type of Yoga I Choose?
Depending on your age and health status, most forms of yoga can have bone health benefits. However, we often see significant benefits with lower-impact forms of yoga, including Hatha, yin, or restorative practices. The movements with the biggest impact on bone health include familiar weight-bearing poses like plank, downward-facing dog, tree pose, warrior pose, and triangle pose. Gentle yoga or chair yoga are excellent options for seniors, people with extra weight, and individuals with health conditions that limit mobility. These options are a perfect way to start your yoga journey safely.
How Often Should I Do Yoga For Best Results?
When doing yoga for bone health, consistency is key. It’s more effective to do shorter sequences daily or every other day than an extended session once a week. You can do yoga at home with a video or book or in a group class. Combining a full-length group class once or twice a week with a short home practice daily or every other day works well for many yoga fans. Some tips for starting a successful yoga practice include:
- Find a class at the appropriate level for your fitness level and needs.
- If you haven’t done yoga before, start with a trained instructor who can give you tips on helpful poses and correct any problems that could cause injury.
- Tell your teacher about previous injuries or concerns.
- Don’t push yourself too hard. Take it easy when doing challenging poses like backbends, twists, and inversions.
- Check with your orthopaedist or primary care provider before you start your yoga practice. They can offer tips for getting the most out of your practice and avoiding injury.
At Countryside Orthopaedics, we love supporting our patients’ athletic endeavors and efforts to stay healthy and fit. We’re highly supportive of fitness routines that promote bone health. However, we’re also aware of injury risks associated with yoga and other forms of exercise. Talk with us before starting a new exercise routine so we can help you get moving safely, adapt to previous injuries and find a program that’s just right for you.