Yoga for Healthy Bones
I will load each week’s content below in the tabs. The most current week will show first in blue, but you’ll be able to click the boxes in grey beside the blue tab to view previous content.
Let’s review what I shared this month about Yoga for Healthy Bones!! I highly recommend reading about this important topic if you haven’t done so already…especially if you have been diagnosed with osteoporosis or are looking to prevent it.
We began the month by focusing on on Salabasana (locust pose) and how you can use this pose to strengthen the whole back body. I recorded a video of the pose and a very helpful cue to get the most out of the pose. To read more about why Salabasana (and yoga in general), can promote healthy bones, click here to go to my website for the Week 1 newsletter. The video recording of the cue is also posted there.
We also discussed how one of the pioneers of Yoga for Bone Health, Dr. Loren Fishman, recommends specific yoga poses to support bone health. I shared his article detailing the 12 yoga poses he recommends (with pictures) and reasons why they help strengthen our bones. Click here to go to my Week 3 newsletter, where you will find my favorite quotes from Dr. Fishman’s article, the article itself, and some bonus information from an online summit I attended on osteoporosis!
Okay, I know I said I was only sending one or two newsletters a month, but I felt that I needed to send one today because the information is so beneficial…and I really wanted to share it sooner than later!
As you know, the theme for the month is Yoga for Healthy Bones. One of the pioneers of yoga and bone health is Dr. Lauren Fishman. Click here to go to my website for a link to an AMAZING article by him that details 12 yoga poses and the reasons why each pose supports healthy bones. Don’t you just love a Dr. that writes yoga poses on his prescription pad?!?
For each pose, Dr. Fishman explains the purpose and anatomic benefits for the bones. For example, he mentions and shows Parsvakonasana (side angle pose), with it’s purpose being torsion at the femur, hip, and spine and the subsequent benefits being improved posture and balance. I highly recommended taking a look at the pose visuals and at least reading through the article highlights.
Here are some quotes from the article that I found particularly interesting:
“The 12 poses selected for daily use were based on safety and impact on the spine, hip, and femur. Because forward flexion puts inordinate pressure on the anterior sector of the vertebral bodies, the location of almost all compression fractures (Sinaki, 2012a, 2012b), the poses avoided anterior compression as much as possible. Twisting poses that raise the torque in the circumferential regions of the vertebral bodies’ cortex were used because these do not exert compressive forces on the vertebral bodies (Cristofolini et al., 2013).”
“Yoga uses Wolff’s law and isometrically opposes powerful groups of muscles attaching to the same bone, thereby greatly increasing the stress on bone, and consequent stimulus for bone strengthening (Fishman, 2009, Lu et al., 2016). The practice of yoga exploits this relationship between stress on a bone and the bone’s support system by generating far greater strain on bones than gravity or standard exercises.”
Food for Thought
Besides my functional nutrition program, I am about to embark on a 3-day online summit to learn more about osteoporosis. One of the key points I have uncovered in my own research is that while calcium is important, too much of it can be detrimental to your health. Below is a little blurb from the program that supports this (you won’t be able to click on it or download anything).
My recommendation is to keep track for a few weeks to see how much calcium you get on average each day. If you need to supplement, please do. If you get enough through your diet, please don’t. And, if you’re eating a well-balanced and colorful diet, you should be getting the other nutrients necessary for your body to absorb the calcium you’re taking in.
That’s it for now!
As promised, I am staying in close touch with you even though my newsletters will be slowing to 1-2 a month for the time being. If you missed last week’s newsletter, I announced that I am fully engrossed in my Functional Nutrition Training and spending most of my extra time deep-diving into that world. So while my newsletters will appear in your inbox less often, you can always visit my Instagram page where I post some of my favorite finds, including food tips I am learning about in my training!
Last week we began discussing how yoga can support healthy bones. The focus was on Salabasana (locust pose) and how you can use this pose to strengthen the whole back body. I recorded a video of the pose and a very helpful cue to get the most out of the pose. To read more about why Salabasana (and yoga in general), can promote healthy bones, click here to go to my website for last week’s newsletter. The video recording of the cue is also posted there. Enjoy!!
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