If you have been diagnosed with the condition osteoporosis, you might have been advised by your doctor to do exercises to help strengthen your bones and improve your balance.
However, you might fear to go to an exercise class in case you fall over and hurt yourself.
Simple things, like accidently bumping against other people or tripping over your feet, make you feel anxious. You worry that the impact of the exercise may make your bones break. You may also be concerned in case you lose your balance and not have the physical strength to get up.
If these are your fears, fear not!
One of my yoga students, a lady aged 72, shared your fears. She found the following five yoga exercises beneficial in helping her to regain her confidence in going out shopping, improve her balance and coordination. Over time, they also helped to strengthen her muscles which meant she could play more physical games with her grandchildren.
What Is Osteoporosis?
Osteoporosis is a medical condition which makes your bones very fragile and soft. It can be a very painful condition as thin bones fracture easily. Common places for fractures are the spine, hips, and wrist. The fear of falling and breaking your bones can prevent you from fully enjoying life.
However, with practice, the following five yoga exercises can help you regain your confidence as they help to strengthen your body, improve your balance and increase your awareness of body alignment.
These poses are mountain pose (tadasana), triangle pose (trikonasana), standing hands to feet pose (uttasana) and warrior 2 (virabhadrasana II) and the corpse pose (savasana).
5 Yoga Poses
1. The Mountain Pose
The mountain pose forms the foundation for all yoga standing poses. Therefore, it is important to get a good understanding and feel for this pose before trying the other yoga standing postures.
- Stand with your feet slightly apart; make sure your feet are parallel. Spread your toes and open the soles of your feet downwards.
- Rock your weight gently back and forth until your weight is evenly distributed through both feet.
- Keep your knees soft.
- Tuck your tailbone downwards towards the floor.
- Lengthen your spine from your hips.
- Next, lower your shoulders, to create space between your ears and your shoulders and to allow the shoulder-blades to relax.
- Let your arms relax by the side of your thighs. Allow your arms to hang down the sides of the body with the palms facing the legs, fingers gently pointing towards the floor.
- Breathe in and slowly breathe out through your nose and feel your spine lengthening. Feel your chest expanding as you “lift up” the front of your body.
- Lengthen the back of your neck, feel as if the crown of your head is lifted towards the sky, have a soft gaze, smile to release any tension you may have in the jaw.
- Allow your breath to float down to your feet and feel the soles of your feet connecting with the floor. Keep your belly soft.
- Stay steady in this pose for 3 – 10 rounds of deep abdominal breathing.
- Slowly come out of the pose and return to your everyday breath
2. The Triangle Pose
The Triangle pose helps to increase your balance and concentration. It strengthens your spine, hips, arms and shoulders.
- Stand up straight and tall, feet about 3 ½ feet apart, feel your feet connect with the ground. Keep your legs straight, feet facing forward, toes turned in slightly to centre.
- Turn your right foot directly out to the side. Keep your spine straight. Straighten your arms out shoulder height in line with your shoulders.
- Exhale and reach down to rest your right hand on your right leg. Keep your chest open as you breathe slowly and deeply.
- Breathe in and straighten your left arm straight up in the air. If this feels comfortable, turn your head and look up at your left hand, if not, just look straight ahead.
- Breathe slowly and deeply for 3-5 rounds. Feel your breath flow from the tips of your fingers to the soles of your feet, breathe into the back and side ribs.
- Make sure you keep your hips in alignment.
- Relax and slowly lower your left arm. Return to the mountain pose, tune in and repeat on the other side.
3. Warrior Pose 2
Known as the spiritual warrior pose, warrior 2 is quite a strong pose. When you practice warrior 2 it makes you feel very open and strong in your arms and legs. This pose also helps to also open and loosen your shoulder joints.
- From mountain pose step your feet wide apart. Your arms by your side.
- Turn your right foot out toward the right wall. Turn your left foot in slightly.
- Breathe in, raise your arms to shoulder level with the palms facing down. Relax your shoulders. Stretch from fingertip to fingertip.
- Breathe out, keep your left leg straight and bend your right knee until it is directly over your ankle, creating a right angle with your right leg. Listen to your body and make any adjustments to make sure you feel comfortable and not placing any strain on your knees. Keep your body straight. Crown up to the ceiling.
- Turn your head to look along your right arm. Hold the pose. Keep your shoulders relaxed and breathe deeply for 3 – 5 breaths.
- To come out of the pose, lower your arms, release your knee and return to the mountain pose.
- Repeat on the opposite side.
4. Standing Hands To Feet Pose
This posture gives the back of the body a deep and complete stretch. It is quite a calming pose as the head drops below the heart, and the brain is supplied with an increased amount of blood. This pose also releases tension from the neck and spine.
- From the mountain pose inhale and stretch your arms above your head. Exhale and slowly start to bend forwards. Keep your knees softly bent
- Place your hands on your thighs, calves or ankles, wherever feels comfortable for you.
- Relax your head down and tuck your forehead in towards your legs. Allow your neck and head to relax. Stay in this position for 5-10 breaths. Each time you exhale, be aware of how you feel as you allow the body to relax further.
- To come out of the pose, slowly walk your hands up your thighs; come up one vertebra at a time so that your neck and hand are the last to come up. Stand straight in a soft mountain pose, stay still and be aware of how you feel.
5. The Corpse Pose
This is the most traditional method of yoga relaxation and perfect to do whenever you feel overly tired.
- Lie on your back with your arms at a few inches from the sides of your body, palms facing upwards.
- Have your legs hip distance apart and allow your ankles and toes to fall out to the side.
- Make sure your lower back is flat on the floor. Sometimes it helps to straighten your back by having your feet flat on the floor, knees up and then slide your buttocks as close as possible to your feet,
- If you have back ache keep your knees up with your feet flat on the floor or you can roll a folded up blanket and place it under your knees.
- Gently close your eyes and relax your jaw, your shoulders and neck. Make sure your chin is tucked in. Focus your awareness on your breath, breathe in and out through your nose and gently take 3-7 rounds of deep abdominal breathing.
- Just allow your body to relax and sink further into the ground with each out breath. Stay here, focusing on your breath flowing through your body for at least 5-10 minutes.
Word Of Caution
Naturally, as with all forms of exercise, particularly if you haven’t exercised for a while, please consult your doctor to make sure there is not an underlying medical issue which may interfere with your ability to practice these five yoga poses. If you are a yoga beginner I encourage you to check out your local yoga studio and find a teacher who can advise you how to do these exercises safely. If you are practicing at home, please, take your time to listen to your body, any sign of discomfort, please rest and work slowly through the practice
Providing you take care and listen to your body when practicing, the above five yoga poses are ideal to help you manage some of the risk factors associated with osteoporosis, especially your fear of losing your balance, falling over and fracturing your bones.
They are core yoga poses and help strengthen your muscles, improve your balance and best of all improve your confidence in your ability to support yourself and stand up strong and tall. I encourage you to go slowly through the sequence, make an appointment in your diary and 3 times a week, gently go through this yoga sequence.