Take Precautions to Protect your Bones
The ultimate reward for regular yoga practice is a stronger, more substantial skeleton, but you must be careful to avoid sabotaging your own efforts.
Whenever you begin a new yoga practice, start slowly and keep a few important points in mind as you get stronger and begin to push your body further:
Keep Your Expectations in Check
Remember that yoga requires time and patience, so don’t expect to see significant results overnight. A small pilot study led by Dr. Loren Fishman reported that 10 minutes of yoga each day increased bone mineral density without causing injury, but not everybody sees such an improvement.
In fact, Fishman’s continuing research shows that only half of patients who continued their therapeutic yoga practice for two years experienced improvement in their spinal bone density. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t give yoga a try; rather, combine your yoga with appropriate lifestyle changes and any medication your doctor has prescribed to see the greatest benefits.
One great aspect of yoga is its flexibility: there are a number of variations to make the poses more comfortable and less challenging if your strength or flexibility is lacking.
It’s very important to listen to your body and resist the urge to push yourself further. Even a few inches too far can mean the difference between building bone and breaking bone.
Yoga experts will emphasize a balance of effort and ease, alertness and relaxation; if you concentrate too much on one weight bearing movement or muscle-taxing manoeuvre, you will very likely injure yourself, or at least push your practice two steps back.
Find the Right Instructor
There are hundreds of qualified yoga instructors from coast to coast, but it could take a bit of searching to find the best instructor for you. In fact, it may be better to sign up for a private class with a yoga instructor who has worked with osteoporosis patients before (or else has a good understanding of the limitations that come with the disease).
When your instructor can give you his or her full attention, it’s easier for them to help you stay in perfect form, which is essential for proper weight distribution, and will lower your risk of developing stress fractures.
Strive for Balance
Your yoga practice should also focus on balance – both in the muscles, and between the mind and body.
Stable, passive poses like Savasana (Corpse Pose), Pranayama, and meditation may not directly strengthen your bones, but these thoroughly relaxing poses can elevate your mood, increase balance, and even encourage your body to build more bone.
Find a class that promotes this balance, and you’ll be on track to a better, stronger life.