Strong bones are essential in maintaining the body posture and balance. An upright skeletal structure allows us to move, stand, and walk better, making us feel and appear energetic and young.
While most people regard bone weakening as an inevitable age-related condition, there are a number of other contributing factors as well. Some of the most common causes of gradual bone loss include:
- Poor dietary habits
- Lack of physical exercise
- Certain medications
- Excessive smoking
- A family history of bone disease
Research has shown that bone weakness and osteoporosis can be prevented with a healthy combination of a nutritious diet and adequate and appropriate physical activity.
It is in this context that yoga has emerged as an excellent and suitable technique for people of all ages to get their daily dose of exercise, which is an important prerequisite for strengthening their bones as well as improving overall health.
To that end, a 2015 study published in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation demonstrated doing a 12-minute daily yoga practice reverses osteoporotic bone loss.
Researchers conducted a 10-year study measuring the bone mineral density (BMD) of its participants. Results showed improvement in spine, femur, and hip BMD in the participants and complete reversal of bone weakening in some. Thus, the study upheld yoga as a safe and effective way to build BMD with no related serious injuries.
Another 2009 study published in Geriatric Rehabilitation found yoga to be an effective way to build bone mineral density after menopause.
In the same vein, a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Yoga reported that “integrated yoga’’ is a safe mode of physical activity, which includes weight-bearing as well as non-weight-bearing asanas, Pranayama, and Surya Namaskar, all of which help induce improvement in bone mineral density in postmenopausal osteoporotic females.
To keep your bones strong and prevent bone-related problems in the future, incorporate yoga into your daily life.
Here are some great yoga poses for stronger bones.
1. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
As this pose stimulates the spine, hip bones, pelvic bones, and shoulder bones, Vrksasana can be a great relief for those with sciatica. It also promotes better balance by strengthening the bones and arches of the feet. With better balance comes a sense of grounding that helps reduce stress and anxiety.
- Stand upright with your arms at your sides and feet together. Shift the weight into the right leg, making the left leg light.
- Balance yourself by finding a focal point (drishti) 4 to 5 feet away from you. Bending your left knee, hold your left ankle with both hands and raise your foot, placing the sole of your foot firm and flat against the inner right thigh with your toes pointing to the ground. (Make sure the foot is not pressing on the knee joint.)
- Continue to maintain the steady gaze and breathe, slowly putting your hands together in salutation seal near your heart or raising your arms overhead.
- Maintain this position for 10–20 breaths.
- Exhale, slowly return your hands to your sides, and then lower your left leg to the starting position. Repeat with your right leg.
2. Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This pose strengthens the bones of the lower body, specifically the quadriceps, hip flexors, ankles, and calves. The Chair Pose is great in reducing the symptoms of flat feet. Simultaneously, it stretches the chest and shoulders.
- Stand in an upright position with your arms at your sides and feet together.
- Bend your knees, press your heels into the floor, and bring your thighs parallel to the floor (as if sitting on a chair). Check that you can see your toes past your knees.
- Engage the navel towards the spine so the tailbone drops down towards the floor. You can raise your arms up perpendicular to the floor or keep the hands in salutation seal.
- Maintain this pose for 10–30 breaths.
- Inhale, straighten your legs, and bring your palms back to your sides while exhaling gently. Repeat this pose 10 to 15 times, once daily.
- Perform this exercise near a wall so that when you bend, the tailbone touches the wall for support.
- Place a yoga block between the upper thighs to encourage the tailbone to drop down towards the floor while protecting the lower back.
3. Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
A part of Sun Salutation, this pose increases your bone strength, enabling better lower-back support and an upright posture.
It also helps those with spine and back pain as it strengthens the back muscles. Because it exerts weight on the hands, arms, and pelvis, the Cobra Pose works to strengthen the bones of these areas and relieve wrist and finger arthritis. Furthermore, this pose works like a charm to give you an instant surge of energy!
- Lie flat on your stomach with your legs stretched out, and place your hands underneath your shoulders with your palms down and elbows folded upward.
- Press the tops of the feet and pelvic bones into the group.
- Inhaling deeply, slowly raise your upper body (head, chest, and abdomen) with the support of your arms, rolling the shoulders down the back away from the ears.
- Hold this pose for 5–10 breathes, lengthening your tailbone and chest leading forward.
- Lower your torso back to the ground and put your hands beside you.
- Rest for a minute and windshield wiper your legs to release the lower back.
4. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This pose stretches and strengthens the entire body. Your hamstrings, calves, and Achilles tendon get a great flexing as the upper body builds strength. By building the muscle strength and density of the upper body, this exercise promotes upper-body bone tissue renewal. This maintains the strength of the bones, preventing diseases like arthritis and osteoporosis.
The Downward-Facing Dog Pose provides the same benefits as an inversion without having to go into a full-blown headstand. It allows the blood to flow to the brain! This pose is a great way to start the day.
- Start in a tabletop position, wrists under shoulders, knees under hips, and toes curled under.
- With your toes curled under, begin spreading your fingers and push yourself up and back into an upside-down V shape. The pose requires that the hands are pushing the floor away while the heels are relaxing toward the floor.
- Maintain this position for 5–20 breaths. Allow the head to relax.
- To release, exhale and bring your knees to the floor.
5. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
By stretching your muscles and limbs, this pose strengthens the chest, thighs, and hip flexors along with your back muscles. By offering a quick and holistic workout to build your core strength, this pose is custom-made for people who spend the majority of their time stuck to a chair.
Furthermore, as this yoga pose is great for building bone endurance, it may prove effective in reversing primary osteoporosis in the long run.
- Lie flat on your back and walk your feet as close to your glutes, put your arms at your sides with your palms down.
- Inhale, exert pressure on your feet, and gently lift your lower back, middle back, and upper back.
- Allow the tailbone to come upward toward the pubic bone, and engage the glute muscles while hugging the inner thighs in towards one another.
- Roll your arms under your lifted back, clasping your hands together.
- Pushing your hands on the floor, try to lift yourself further up, bringing your shoulder blades closer together.
- Maintain this position for 5–15 breaths.
- Unclasp your hands, roll them out, and gently bring your upper body back to the ground as you exhale.
6. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
This is an excellent pose to relieve osteoporosis and leg cramps. It exerts pressure on the calves, thighs, ankles, knees, and arms and strengthens the bones in these areas.
It also provides flexibility to flat feet, which, due to inactivity, may have become painfully rigid. In fact, if practiced regularly, this exercise can also stretch out the ankles and feet to create an arch.
- Stand upright, place your hands on your hips, and place your feet 4 feet apart from each other.
- Point your right foot outward 90°, and turn your left foot inward so that your heels align with each other.
- Firm your thighs, and with your hands still on your hip bones, exhale and slowly bend your torso to the right so that your right hip bone is above your right thigh bone.
- Reach down to your right shin or ankle with your right hand, straighten your tailbone, and breathe deeply. You can use a yoga block for your right hand as well.
- Slowly lift your left arm toward the ceiling and stretch your collarbones.
- Maintain this position for 5–20 breaths.
- To release, exhale and press firmly through your left heel as you lift your torso and slowly lower your arms.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
7. Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
When done on a regular basis, the Locust Pose can improve your spine flexibility and strengthen your thigh bones. This pose stimulates the back and strengthens the bones in the back, arms, and legs by exerting weight in these areas.
- Lie flat on your stomach, your arms by your sides with palms facing toward each other and your feet apart with the toes pressing downward.
- Keeping your lower body firm, inhale and lightly lift your shoulders, and then lift your head keeping your neck long (do not arch the neck back).
- As you exhale, lift your chest and arms, keeping them parallel to the ground, and bring your shoulder blades slightly closer together.
- Exert a little pressure towards your heels and lift the legs slightly. This will exert pressure and tilt the pelvis while drawing the navel in.
- Maintain this position for 3–15 breaths, while keeping your breathing smooth and steady.
- As you exhale, slowly release your upper body to the ground and your arms back down in the resting position.
- You can windshield wiper your legs side to side to release the lower back.
- Rest for a minute and repeat 2 more times.
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