Yoga can provide a means for you to be proactive with managing the condition of osteoporosis, complementing your diet and exercise regimens. What are some of the ways that yoga can help?
Many yoga poses, properly done, encourage the bones to support the weight of the body, and so are weight-bearing activities. Our skeletal structure is designed to support our own weight, but over time it’s too easy to develop habits of posture and mis-alignment that result in us not using our bones in the way they were intended. This postural weight-bearing activity is different from weight-training, where the emphasis is typically on muscle development. The contraction of muscles against bone does have some positive effect, but doesn’t provide the same kind of weight-bearing activity that actually bearing your own weight can accomplish.
Walking, one of the best weight-bearing exercises there is, is enhanced by a yoga practice that helps bring awareness to the use of bones and joints while walking. Walking with poor habits can be detrimental to the joints as the person continues to wear away at joints that are misaligned.
Balance poses increase the effect of weight bearing, but bring with them the special challenge, of, well, balancing. Here is where a good yoga teacher can help you with the use of the wall and perhaps partnering to provide support for exploring balancing, such as in tree pose.
Stress, the kind of stress that depletes our adrenalcorticoids, can also affect bone health, so one way to support good bone health is to use Restorative Yoga postures to soothe the nervous and adrenal systems. Restoratives also help us to redefine our relationship with our skeletal structure, as our muscles relax.
And, speaking of redefining our relationship with our skeletal structure, some Yin Yoga can also be of benefit to one who has osteoporosis. The long holds common to Yin Yoga, with compression, bring our minds into closer contact with our actual bone structure, while helping the soft connective tissue release.
Breathing into the bones may sound like a funny thing to do, but, as with some of the other methods mentioned, brings our mind and body and breath into a close synchronous relationship. In the world of yoga, breath informs and is informed by the body’s energy, known as prana (chi, or ki). By regulating our breath, we learn to understand our energy more clearly and thus learn to work with our bones more directly.
In Tucson, there are several opportunities coming up, and more for continued exploration of bone health.
- Yoga for Osteoporosis Workshop, Sat, Oct. 23, Lyric Yoga, 1-3 pm, with Jenny Kendall (yours truly).
- Alignment and Adjustment in your Yoga Practice, Sun. Oct. 24, Blue Lotus GoodHeart Yoga, 1-3 pm with Allissa Herret-Kennedy.
- Alignment-Focused Yoga Class, Thursdays at Lyric Yoga, 4-5 pm with Anthony Tribe
And remember, that Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga are also excellent ways to manage bone health.