Yoga has many health benefits from helping with stress reduction to weight loss. Today we will look at how yoga helps with prevention and even reversal of osteopenia and osteoporosis. Osteoporosis is a disease characterized by weak and thinning bones. According to a study done by Loren Fishman, MD and co-author of “Yoga and Osteoporosis”, both men and women are subject to osteoporosis. To get the most bone health benefit your exercise should be both weight-bearing and isometric. Yoga has both while at the same time being low impact, so its great for any age or ability level.
An isometric activity, forces you to use the strength of the muscle to contract over the bones, meaning the exercise is done in a static position. When the muscles contract over the bone it actually makes bones stronger and thicker, lowering the risk of bone degenerative diseases, like osteopenia and osteoporosis.
As well as being isometric, yoga is also weight-bearing. This means you work against gravity while staying upright. In yoga you practice many standing and balancing poses, which are all weight-bearing. Other types of weight bearing activities can damage cartilage and lead to osteopenia, the pre-cursor to osteoporosis.
Loren Fishman, MD did a two-year pilot study examining the relationship between yoga and osteoporosis and osteopenia. During the two-year study, participants added more than 3/4 of a point on the T scale in their DEXA bone density tests for the spine and 4/5 of a point for the all-important hip, with only 10 minutes of yoga daily. That means that participants hovering about half-way between osteoporosis and osteopenia -- those with a diagnosis of osteopenia - improved enough to re-enter the normal range. Several of the patients who had full-blown osteoporosis improved enough to be re-classified as having osteopenia.
If you’re already diagnosed with these ailments or are worried about your bone health, please consider incorporating a yoga practice into your life. It will reverse and/or prevent the symptoms of bone degenerative diseases. Please visit www.casadeyoga.com for a full list of local classes.
Natalie Hain teaches yoga at Gem of the Hills and Casa de Yoga in Blanco and Alchemy Yoga School in San Marcos. She is also available for private or small group sessions. Please email her with inquiries or to set an appointment time at firstname.lastname@example.org