4 Poses for Building Bone Strength
While we age, it’s normal to lose some bone mass. But losing an excessive amount can lead to fractures of the hip and spine, loss of height, rounding of the upper back and limited mobility. Unfortunately, bone loss comes without warning signs or symptoms. That is why osteoporosis is often referred to as the “silent disease.”
If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, you know that doctors recommend weight-bearing exercises as part of the treatment. Yoga offers many poses that are ideal for building bone strength.
Below are four (4) proven poses for improving bone strength:
- For safety, use a wall or the back of an inward-swinging door to support both balance and good posture.
- For the greatest bone-building, move in and out of each pose several times before holding for 20-30 seconds (or roughly four to six breaths).
- If this isn’t possible, stay in each pose for a long as you are able and gradually increase the time as you gain strength.
- Consistency is important, so aim to practice these four poses at least four to five times a week.
Bone Building Yoga Poses
1) Tree Pose
Begin by standing with your back to a wall, heels 1-2 inches away, in Mountain pose. Shift your weight into the right leg, taking care not to allow the right hip to shift out to the right. Bend your left knee and rotate it out to the left. Place the left heel on your right ankle, toes on the floor (like a kickstand on a bicycle) or on your right calf.
Reach both arms up to the ceiling. Alternatively, if you have tightness in your shoulders, bend your elbows into cactus. Stay for four to six deep, slow breaths, lengthening the spine and lifting your rib cage out of your waist on each inhale.
Then, lower the arms to your sides and slowly release the left foot to the floor. Repeat on the left.
2) Warrior 2
With your back still to the wall, step your feet wide. Turn your right foot so it is parallel to the wall and your left foot in a few degrees. Keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee, making sure it tracks toward the second toe of your right foot and stacks over the ankle. (If your knee goes past your ankle, lengthen your stance.)
Lift your arms out to the sides until they’re level with your shoulders, palms facing down (or forward for those with less shoulder mobility). Exhale, lowering the arms and straightening the knee. Move in and out of the pose for three to five reps. Then stay with the knee bent and arms extended for four to six breaths. As you hold the pose, focus on lengthening the spine on each inhale and allowing your weight to sink into your legs as you exhale.
To come out of the pose, lower the arms, straighten the right knee and turn the feet forward. Pivot to the left and repeat.
3) Chair Pose
Stand in Mountain pose with your back touching the wall and heels 1-2 inches away. Lengthen through the crown of the head.
Then begin to walk your feet forward, bending your knees as your back slides down the wall into a seated position. Aim to bring the knees to a 90 degree angle or as close as you are able. Hold this position, pressing your spine and the back of your head into the wall, arms at your sides. Stay for four to six breaths.
Then bringing your palms to the wall, slowly walk your feet back towards the wall, sliding your spine upward until you return to a standing position.
For added challenge, come into chair without using the wall and lifting the arms to chest height or overhead. You can move dynamically in and out of the pose for a few reps before staying for four to six breaths.
4) Triangle Pose
Again with your back to the wall, step your feet wide, turning right toes parallel to the wall and the left foot in a few degrees. Extend both arms straight out from the shoulders. Keeping both legs straight, shift your hips towards your left foot as you reach your right arm forward. Imagine you are reaching across a countertop as you continue to lengthen both sides of your torso. Lower your right hand to rest on your thigh or calf and reach the left arm up towards the ceiling. The back of the left hand may come to the wall, but don’t force it. Using your abdominal muscles, rotate the right ribs up and away from the floor. Direct your gaze either straight ahead or towards the ceiling.
Continue to reach the left arm towards the ceiling as you hold the pose for four to six breaths before rising up to center. Turn the feet parallel, then repeat on opposite side.
At the end of your practice, reward yourself with a few minutes of relaxation. You can either lie on the floor or sit in a chair. Close your eyes and take 5-10 deep, relaxing breaths. Know you’re getting stronger every day. Be well!