Yoga for Healthy Bones
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Let’s start off the year with strength…strength for our bones! I have yet to cover Yoga for Bone Health and feel January is the perfect month to talk about this important topic.
I chose this theme because as I get older (I’m 53), the importance of bone health is instrumental to my aging gracefully. I have been on thyroid medication since the age of 16 (I have no thyroid), which puts me at higher risk of osteoporosis. As a matter of fact, I had a bone density scan last week and found out I already have osteoporosis in my spine…ugh. But, I am researching dietary changes to slow the progression of bone loss and incorporating more poses into my yoga practice for overall bone health. Let’s explore together!
One inspiring pose and cue:
Salabasana (Locust Pose)
This pose strengthens the whole back body. You can bet I will be adding this into every class I teach. You may come into this pose during a yoga class often, but the real question is…are you benefitting from it as much as you can when you practice it? Sometimes a good cue is all you need to take a pose from good to great!
Cue: Distribute the backbend evenly through the spine…upper, middle, and lower.
To see the cue in action AND to get some updates from me about future newsletters (hint: just 1-2 newsletters per month for now so I can focus on my Functional Nutrition Training).
If you look at people in Salabasana, you may notice that much of the backbend/extension takes place in the neck/cervical spine or low back/lumbar spine. These parts of the spine naturally have more range of motion in extension, but we don’t want to forget about the mid-back or overcompensate in the neck or low back. We want to strengthen the WHOLE spine in the pose. An article I read on osteoporosis and the spine explains the benefits of working the entire back very clearly. “Engaging all of your back muscles instead of just those in your lower back will help open your chest and shoulders. Building up strength and stretching your chest not only feel good to those of us that spend our time hunched over our computers, but will also result in better posture.”
Even though you may know this, here is a nice reminder from the same article about all of the benefits of Salabasana. “Locust pose improves posture and counteracts the effects of prolonged sitting and computer work. It may help relieve lower back pain, can counteract slouching and kyphosis (abnormal curvature of the spine), and strengthens your back muscles, especially the muscles supporting your spine.”
This is all very important for those people that come to class who are looking to help prevent osteoporosis and/or strengthen their backs if they already have it. If you’re interested in reading a little more about yoga and osteoporosis, you can check out this small study from Harvard Health. Click here or on the image below to go to my website for the article link.
One inspiring tip:
You’re actually getting two tips this week!
Tip 1: Start the lift at your sternum instead of your chin. A lot of people end up lifting their chin and think that their upper body is in a backbend because their neck is. However, if you focus on lifting your sternum first, you will strengthen your upper back more.
Tip 2: First, practice lifting the backs of your shoulders and sternum while keeping everything else on the ground to focus on truly feeling the work in the upper back. Then, practice lifting only the legs and feet and feel the work in the low back. Follow this by lifting into the full pose, working the entire length of the back, and feeling the backbend from the cervical all the way to the lumbar spine. If you feel more in the lumbar spine, you can always lower your legs a little and even out the lift.
One inspiring song:
One inspiring quote:
“I believe that when the body is strong, the mind thinks strong.”
– Henry Rollins