Yoga For Bone Health

Published on
November 8, 2013

Watch television long enough and you’ll invariably come across commercials advertising drugs that treat the loss of bone density, or osteoporosis. For most people, sooner or later, bone density will become a potential health concern. Poor diets, sedentary lifestyles and the lifelong convenience of having machines do a lot of the work human bodies used to do will almost guarantee brittle bones for many of us. No doubt it’s part of aging, particularly in women, who face significant hormonal changes as they age. But just as we are bombarded with marketing for Fosamax, Boniva, and a slew of other drugs designed to treat or stave off the loss of bone density, wouldn’t it be wonderful if more medical practitioners would point their patients in the direction of a yoga mats as well?

Studies continue to show a strong link between yoga and bone health. The findings, published widely in major news outlets recently, point to the convincing conclusion that yoga appears to be an effective treatment for osteoporosis. In some cases, yoga has been shown to slow, if not reverse, bone loss. Key among the reports are the findings from Dr. Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall, whose comprehensive research into osteoporosis and yoga gives the yoga world cause for celebrations – as if it needed more!

In their 2010 book Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide, Saltonstall and Fishman, the Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City, make the case that yoga is one of the best treatments (and preventions) for osteoporosis. That’s an exciting conclusion for yoga teachers, who teach to classes filled with women, many of them entering middle age.

Yogis see firsthand what a lifetime of practice can do: Yoga, and its integration of proper alignment with the demand placed on bones and muscles, builds stronger hips, backs, knees and spines. Yes, high impact aerobic activities can promote bone health, but let’s face it, in our “all or nothing” world, our approach to these activities is often detrimental to our bodies in other ways.

In yoga, we work with the weight of our bodies. You can’t get more natural than that! After all, how often do we walk around with a barbell across our shoulders. Yoga teaches us to integrate proper joint function and movement to lift and carry our body’s weight. You don’t have to wait until you are on the yoga mat to reap the benefits. Almost any standing yoga pose or arm balance will deliver bone building benefits. A good one to try is Chair Pose or Utkatasana, which strengthens the legs, glutes and all the muscles around the hips, an area vulnerable to osteoporosis. Dr. Fishman offers a useful series to target osteoporosis here.

An added bonus: yoga focuses on balance, so while we are getting our weight-bearing fix, we also work on the art of balancing on one leg at a time, something that becomes crucial as we age. By no means am I suggesting that we – or our mothers and grandmothers – dismiss the medical advice from our doctors. We can, however, encourage them to try and embrace yoga and the many health benefits it imparts.

Are you at risk for or do you currently suffer from osteoporosis? Have had success with yoga as an alternative therapy?

Share with


Our Latest

Yoga Articles
  • Demonstrating What Is Pranayama

    What Is Pranayama? (Definition, Purpose, History, Stages and Types)

  • Self Realization

    Self Realization: Definition, Qualities and Benefits

  • Yoga With Meditation

    Combining Yoga With Meditation: Tips, Benefits, and Expert Advice

  • What Is Meditation

    What Is Meditation? (Definition, History, Types, and Styles)

  • Chakra Stones

    Chakra Stones & Crystals: Types, Meaning and Use

  • Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

    10 Tips for Harnessing the Mental Health Benefits of Yoga

  • Best Time to Meditate

    Finding the Best Time to Meditate: Tips and Advice on When to Sit

  • Purusharthas

    Purusharthas: The Four Goals of Life

Remove Ads with a

Premium Membership

Viewing ads supports YogaBasics, which allows us to continue bringing you quality yoga content. Sign up for a premium membership to remove all ads and enjoy uninterrupted access to the best yoga resources on the web.

Explore More

Yoga TipsAdviceArticlesPracticesBasicsTechniques

  • best time to practice yoga

    When Is the Perfect Time to Practice Yoga?

  • yoga goals

    26 Yoga Goals to Expand and Deepen Your Practice

  • great yoga teachers

    Qualities of Great Yoga Teachers

  • Practicing Meditation Poses

    The 6 Best Positions for Practicing Meditation

  • Practice yoga fast or slow

    Fast or Slow? How to Find Your Yoga Flow

  • yoga teacher giving asana assist

    Don’t Doubt the Magic of Hands-On Adjustments

  • Beginner Yoga Poses

    The 18 Best Yoga Poses for Beginners

  • Warrior Poses

    The 5 Warrior Poses of Yoga

  • Live a Yogic Lifestyle

    How to Live a Yogic Lifestyle

4 responses to “Yoga For Bone Health”

  1. Julie Avatar

    After 4 back surgeries, double Fusion at L3-L5 pins,rods,and cages and issues going up to S1 with permanent nerve damage,Yoga was suggested. My concern is the the difficulty of bending and trying to sit on the floor. Any guidance to get me started? I see the benefits… Just do not know how to get started. Thanks!

    1. Ivey Avatar

      Julie. I can understand your concern; and I suspect you have a good measure of fear and trepidation even contemplating taking up a yoga practice. You should definitely take care and proceed slowly. Have faith, however, that if you commit yourself to an authentic practice – meaning one in which you observe the tenets of yoga, as in non-violence, do no harm to your body first – you will over time get strong, and likely stave off any further deterioration to your spine. Given your limitations, you may never be able to do certain poses, but you will in time experience a strength and flexibility that will provide integrity to your body and allow you to live pain free. Find yourself a good yoga teacher; one that is well versed in therapeutic applications and knows how to work generously with modifications and props. Do yoga!!

    2. Timothy Burgin Avatar
      Timothy Burgin

      Hi Julie, I’ve had several students over the years who have had back surgeries to fuse sections of their spine and they all found that yoga decreased their pain and improved their limited range of motion of their spine. Check out our yoga for beginner’s page as well as our basic yoga sequences to get you started.

  2. John Anderson Avatar
    John Anderson

    Excellent post. Thanks for share. If anyone has body pain and he/she will do correct yoga, then it will be very helpful and get improvement definitely. Yoga is the right exercise for born health, recently I have join at Chrysalis Yoga and within 45 days I’m feeling relaxed with my back pain.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Ivey DeJesus Avatar
About the author
Ivey DeJesus embarked on her yoga journey years ago seeking healing for an achy back. Yoga has cultivated in her an awareness of intelligent movement and alignment, and imbued in her a reverence for the teachings of the Sutras. Ivey holds a B.A. in journalism from the University of Maryland and received her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2011. She has completed prison yoga training with James Fox and this year embarked on her yoga therapy certification under the tutelage of Cora Wen. A news journalist by day, Ivey juggles work deadlines with her private and studio yoga classes. She practices yoga daily and is a student of the Sutras. She writes about yoga in her blog [email protected]. She and her husband are empty nesters and live in Pennsylvania. She welcomes feedback from readers. Follow her on Twitter @thepurplemat1.
Yoga Basics