By Amruta Kulkarni, CYT 250
Although the benefits of yoga training are becoming increasingly more well-known, its effects on specific illnesses are still being researched. One area of debate is yoga’s effect on bone health, especially osteopenia and osteoporosis. Both terms apply to bone density, which decreases with age, but the two conditions differ in degree.
Osteopenia, the less serious of the two, refers to a level of bone mineral density that is lower than normal, yet not low enough to be classified as osteoporosis. It may, however, reflect a tendency to develop a more serious disorder in time. Osteoporosis is, also, is a loss of bone density caused by aging. Its symptoms, however, are more serious and may weaken bones, causing them to fracture or break more easily.
The perfect time to begin a yoga practice is before bones start to lose strength. According to Yoga Journal, studies have shown that women who practice physical forms of yoga regularly show greater bone density in the spine. Other research confirms that weight-bearing yoga postures reduce the risk of osteoporosis in postmenopausal women and helps to lower the risk of fractures in vulnerable wrist and hip bones.
Yoga Poses for Strong Bones
• Standing postures, such as the warrior or triangle poses, work the bones in the hips and legs.
• Upward facing dog, headstands, and plank poses strengthen bones in the shoulders, arms, and wrists.
• Cobra and locust poses are helpful in preserving elasticity and bone density in the spine.
• Tree pose, half moon pose, and mountain pose improve coordination, create awareness, sharpen balance, and reduce the risk of falls.
These postures, of course, are not limited to these specific benefits. In general, all work together to ensure healthy bones throughout the body. A few cautions, however, should be considered.
People who already have osteopenia or osteoporosis have an increased risk of fractures when bones are stressed by weight-bearing exercises. This is a point that should be covered during the anatomy and skeletal body components of a Yoga certification course. While gentle stretching and meditation are good for almost everyone, skeletal risk factors require special consideration and professional advice. With a good Yoga teacher and the right poses, there should be a way for any student to improve bone health by practicing the postures.
© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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