Yoga Poses for Better Bone Health

Yoga Poses for Better Bone Health

The benefits of regular yoga go deeper than toned muscles and a Zen-like attitude—striking a pose may also help improve bone strength and reduce the risk of fractures. That’s because many yoga poses are weight-bearing, which means the body has to work against gravity to stay in the pose.

“The force and pressure of each pose make bones grow stronger,” explains Loren Fishman, M.D., a Columbia University researcher who has studied the impact of yoga on bone strength. 

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These 12 poses mix weight-bearing postures with moves that help improve balance, flexibility and muscle strength—all of which can help prevent falls and fractures as you age. 

Tree 

Tree PoseStand with feet hip-width apart. Shift weight slightly into your left foot, then bend your right knee and reach down with your right hand to grasp your right ankle. Bring your right foot up and place the sole on your inner left thigh (or just above the ankle, if you can’t hold it on your thigh).

Bring your arms together in front of your chest or over your head. Hold for 30 seconds. Place your right foot back down on the ground and repeat on the other side.

Triangle

Start standing facing straight ahead. Step your feet about 3 feet apart. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot 30 degrees to the right and your right foot about 90 degrees to the right. Exhale and extend your torso directly over your right leg, bending at the hips.

Rotate your torso to the left and rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, the floor or a block. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling and turn your head to look at your left hand. Hold for 30 seconds. Return to the start and repeat on the other side.

Twisted Triangle

Start standing facing straight ahead. Step your feet about 3.5 feet apart. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot slightly to the right and your right foot about 90 degrees to the right.

Turn your torso to the right, squaring your hips as much as possible to the front of your mat. Exhale and turn your torso further to the right as you lean forward over your front leg and squeeze your thighs toward each other.

Reach your left hand down, either to the floor or onto a block placed against the inside of your right foot, and raise your right hand up behind you.

Drop the left hip slightly toward the floor. Beginners should keep their head looking straight forward or at the floor, while more experienced yogis can look up toward the top right thumb. Hold for 30 seconds.

Exhale to release the twist and inhale to come upright. Repeat on the other side, twisting to the left.

Warrior II 

Warrior PoseStart standing facing straight ahead. Step your feet about 4 to 5 feet apart. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot slightly right and your right foot about 90 degrees to the right.

Exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle, so the shin is perpendicular to the floor. Try to bring your right thigh parallel to the floor while keeping your torso vertical (if you need to, step your left foot back). Stretch your arms away from each other and keep your shoulders directly over your hips.

Turn your head right to look at your fingers. Hold for 30 seconds. Then inhale to come up, reverse your feet, and repeat on the other side.

Side-Angle

Start standing facing straight ahead. Step your feet about 4 to 5 feet apart. Raise your arms so they’re parallel to the floor. Turn your left foot slightly right and your right foot about 90 degrees to the right.

Anchor your left heel to the floor, exhale and bend your right knee over your right ankle, so your shin is perpendicular to the floor. Try to bring your right thigh parallel to the floor (if you need to, step your left foot back).

Turn your head to look at your left arm. Exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or close to) the top of your right thigh, either pressing your right fingertips or palm on the floor just outside your right foot or bending your right elbow and placing your forearm on your thigh.

Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling and turn your left palm to face your head.

On an inhale, reach your left arm over your left ear, palm facing the floor. Push your right knee outward into your biceps and your biceps into the knee. Lengthen through the entire left side of your body, stretching diagonally. Push your right knee back. Hold for 30 seconds. Then inhale to come up.

Reverse your feet and repeat on the other side.

Locust 

Locust PoseLie on your stomach with arms along the sides of your torso, palms up and forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms and legs away from the floor, without arching your neck.

Keep your lower ribs, stomach and front pelvis resting on the mat. Firm your buttocks and reach through your legs. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back through your fingertips.

Look forward or slightly upward without jutting your chin forward. Hold for 30 seconds, then release on an exhale.

Supine Hand-to-Foot I

Lie on your back, with your legs out straight and arms down by your sides. Lift your right leg toward the sky, without bending your knee. Use your right hand to catch your toes, straighten your knee and bring your knee closer to your chest, keeping your leg straight.

If this is too much, use a yoga strap placed around the arch of your foot, hold it with both hands and use your arms to pull your leg toward your chest. Hold for 30 seconds.

Repeat on the other side. 

Supine Hand-to-Foot II

Lie on your back, with your legs out straight and arms down by your sides. Lift your right leg toward the sky, bending your knee until your thigh is vertical, then straighten it.

Use your right hand to catch your toes or, if you can’t reach, wrap a strap around your toes and grab the ends of the strap with your right hand. Drop your right leg to the right side of your body, opening your hips and keeping your knee straight as your leg moves toward the floor.

Place your left arm straight out to the side, forming a “T”. Retain contact between your left leg and the mat. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.

Straight-Legged Twist 

Sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you. Bend your right knee and put your foot flat on the floor, with your heel as close to your sitting bone as possible. Lengthen your spine, so you’re sitting up tall.

Exhale and rotate your torso to the right, wrapping your left arm around your right thigh. Keep contact between your right sitting bone and the floor. Press your right fingertips onto the floor just behind your backside to lift your torso slightly up and forward.

If you’re advanced, take a bind by wrapping the left arm around the right knee and moving your right arm around your back until you can grasp your left wrist or join hands.

Hold for 30 seconds. Exhale and release. Repeat on the other side.

Bridge 

bridge poseLie on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor with your heels as close to your sitting bone as possible. Exhale and press your feet and arms actively on the floor, while pushing your tailbone upward and lifting your hips.

Keep your thighs and feet parallel. Clasp your hands below your pelvis and extend through your arms to stay on the tops of your shoulders. Lift your hips until your thighs are about parallel to the floor, knees directly over ankles. Lift your chin slightly. Hold for 30 seconds.

Release on an exhale and slowly lower your spine back onto the mat.

Bent-Knee Twist

Sit on the floor, legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Slide your left foot under your right leg, to the outside of your right hip.

Lay the outside of your left leg on the floor. Step your right foot over your left leg, so your foot is outside your left hip, right knee pointing up toward the ceiling. Exhale and twist toward the inside of your right thigh. Press your right hand against the floor, just behind your right buttocks.

Set your upper left arm on the outside of your right thigh. Continue to twist the torso by turning to the right. (If you’re advanced, take a bind by wrapping your left arm around the right knee and moving your right arm around your back until you can hold your left hand.)

Hold for 30 seconds, twisting a little farther with every exhalation and distributing the twist evenly throughout the spine. Untwist on your inhale. Repeat on the other side.

Corpse (Savasana)

Lie on your back with your arms about 15 degrees from the side of your body, palms up and legs straight out in front of you. Close your eyes and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to relax. Scan your body from your toes to the top of your head.

Release any tense areas. Hold for several minutes, then slowly deepen your breath, wiggle your fingers and toes, reach your arms over your head and stretch your whole body.

Roll to one side and slowly come up to a seated position.

From Family Circle, © Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Used with permission. Always consult your health care provider before starting or stopping an exercise program.

This article is for general educational purposes only and is not intended to be used as or substituted for medical advice.  Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified health care provider with any questions about your health or a medical condition.  Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have read on the internet.