Yoga can veritably drown the body in feel-good benefits, including the promotion of joint and skeletal health. As the body builds strength and flexibility, this helps support the health of the entire body. Yoga for skeletal health helps realign the body to alleviate minor aches and pains and strengthen bones against the rigors of life.
Fight Against Bone Loss
It's estimated that 10 million Americans suffer from osteoporosis and another 34 million have osteopenia, the disorder that often progresses to osteoporosis. Both men and women reach their maximum bone density by the age of 30; once that has been hit, it's certainly a matter of being able to maintain that proper bone density to avoid brittle and deteriorating bones. Yoga is a strength building form of exercise, and it's yoga's ability to lengthen muscles and hold them in place that helps in strengthening the bones. Experts say that the pull of a muscle against the bone is the number one factor in bone strength.
How Much Yoga Is Enough Yoga?
It's hard to say how much yoga is ideal for skeletal health. A study done on finding the correlation between yoga and skeletal health discovered that as little as 10 minutes of yoga a day was enough to see an improvement in bone density and strength. Yogis who have early stage bone loss might be able to reverse their bone loss with regular exercise and a good diet. However, people with osteoporosis should seek the counsel of a yoga teacher to be taught the proper alignment for each posture. A teacher well versed in yoga therapeutics is the best source for learning safety during yoga and other aids in maintaining bone mass.
Yoga with Osteoporosis
It's worth saying that there are some asanas that can cause more harm than good if the yogi has osteoporosis. Forward bends, a staple in most practices, can place undue stress on the front of the vertebrae and increase the chances of a spinal fraction. Twists can also be harmful due to the stress it places on the spine. Experts recommend supine twists so the length length of the spine is fully supported.
Poses for Skeletal Health
All of the postures are fair game if the yogi merely has minor bone loss or if they're doing yoga to prevent bone loss. Postures that focus on areas most prone to fracture – wrists, hips, and spine – will strengthen those areas and help ward off fractures or bone loss in the future.
This pose does wonders for strengthening the hips. Not only will this pose protect the hips against bone loss, it promises balance to prevent falling, a huge factor in bone fractures.
People with osteoporosis often suffer from compression fractures in the spine, particularly in the thoracic (chest) vertebrae. Cobra strengthens the muscles in the upper back and improves the body's post, preventing computer hunch or a “Dowager's hump”.
Warriors I / II / III
The warrior poses strengthen various parts of the body. The upper back gets a workout, as do the shoulders and arms to improve posture. The legs are worked in their own entirety from the calves to the gluteals. All of the warrior variations vastly improve the body's balance, too.
The skeletal system is one of the more overlooked systems of the body when it comes to preventative health. Osteoporosis is irreversible, so it's important for people, particularly women, to ensure their bones are properly fed and strengthened. Yoga will strengthen the body, protect the bones and joints, and improve balance and flexibility.