Can Yoga Reduce the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

Can Yoga Reduce the Symptoms of Osteoporosis?

senior woman doing yoga


Osteoporosis is a condition that affects many people, especially women, and can lead to weaker bones and fractures. Over the years, there have been many studies and even some medications to help deal with the symptoms of osteoporosis. Still, there is the question of whether or not there is a holistic way to deal with and possibly reverse osteoporosis.


Yoga and Osteoporosis

It is commonly known that weight-bearing exercises like running, walking, jumping, and lifting weights can add enough stress to increase bone density. However, one study discusses how yoga can reverse osteoporotic bone loss. The study argues that yoga can be another option for building bones.


Results of the study
In the study, researchers note some benefits of yoga, including an improvement in balance and coordination. These improvements are important in avoiding falls which cause the majority of osteoporotic fractures. The researchers involved in the study tested the selected yoga poses to see if they increased bone density.


Seven hundred and forty-one people were recruited, from 2005 to 2015, to participate in the study. They had to submit dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans to find out the bone density of their hips and spines.


Before the study began, they also had to participate in other lab tests. They were then given DVDs that had yoga pose instructions. Once they completed the yoga pose routine, they had to log the routine online.


Of the 741 people, only 227 people did the yoga pose routine every other day over two years. Two hundred and two of the people that participated were women. The average age for these women was 68 when they began the study. 83% of these women had a bone density that was below average.


Once they completed the study, they submitted another DEXA scan. The DEXA scans showed that the bone density in the spine increased significantly. Although not as significant as the spine, the hips also showed an increase in bone density. No injuries were reported as being caused by the yoga routine.


What do the results mean?
Although the results are promising, they are not conclusive. Only a small fraction of the individuals recruited participated in the study. Only 43 of the participants submitted DEXA scans before and after the study. The study may be a cause for some optimism. However, a new study has to be done to verify the results.


The participants in the study chose to participate. They were not randomly selected, which means they already had a desire to practice yoga. It may be that the reason the study was so promising was because of this desire. In yoga, the mind and body are connected. So, it may be that yoga is most beneficial when the individual practicing yoga is fully engaged.


Yoga Poses That Are Beneficial

Although the answer to whether yoga can reverse osteoporosis is inconclusive right now, there are still some benefits that come with practicing yoga. If you are suffering from osteoporosis, practicing yoga regularly can ease the symptoms of this disease.


It can also improve the health of your bones as well as decrease the risks that come with osteoporosis. If you are postmenopausal, you may also find that yoga can help increase bone density.


Implementing weight-bearing poses in your yoga routine can make you stronger, reduce discomfort, and improve posture. It can also help you become more stable, agile, and flexible. As you continue practicing yoga, your movements will be easier, and you will have better coordination which reduces your risk of experiencing falls.


High Plank Pose
A high plank pose is a great pose for strengthening your shoulders, hamstrings, and glutes. It is also great for your balance and posture because it strengthens your back and core.


To do the high plank, you first want to get into the tabletop position. Straighten your knees and lift your hips by pressing your heels behind you. As you draw your shoulders back, your chest should broaden. Hold this position for, at the most, a minute. You can repeat this one to three times

high plank pose

Downward-Facing Dog
When people think of yoga, they think of the downward-facing dog position, also known as adho mukha svanasana. This position will help make your legs, back, and arms stronger. It also helps with posture and improves alignment in your body.


To do this pose, get into the tabletop position. Your heels should be raised, and your toes tucked under your feet. You want to raise your hips to the ceiling as you stretch your spine and press your hands into the ground. Your spine should be elongated, and your knees should have a slight bend. Your ears should be parallel to your upper arms, and your chin should be at your chest. Hold this pose for no more than a minute. Repeat this pose between one and three times.

downward facing dog

Tree pose
The tree pose, also known as vrksasana, is great for strengthening your core, back, and muscles in the leg. Benefits of this pose include better balance, stability, as well as posture.


To do the pose, start in a standing position. Raise your right foot slowly from the floor. Your right foot sole should be on the inside of either your thigh, lower leg, or ankle. You can raise your arms overhead or put your hands together in front of your chest. Keep your eyes focused on a point ahead or the floor. Hold the pose for no more than a minute. Repeat this with your other leg.

tree pose

Warrior II Pose
The Warrior II Pose, also known as virabhadrasana II, is good for your chest, shoulders, and legs. It stretches your chest, hips, and thighs gently. Step back with your left foot and turn your toes out to the side at a little angle. Rotate the left hip back so that the body is towards the side.


Raise the right arm forward and the left arm back until they are parallel to the floor, palms down. Bend your right knee slowly until it is exactly above your ankle. Allow your knee to not extend over your ankle. Balance weight evenly between both feet and elongate your spine.


Spread your arms over your chest and stretch out with your fingertips on both hands. Concentrate your attention on your front middle finger. Pose for up to one minute. Repeat on the other side.

warrior 2 pose

Triangle Pose
The Triangle Pose, also called trikonasana, is a great pose for strengthening and stretching your core, chest, and muscles in the legs. To do the pose, start in a standing position with your feet a little wider than your hips.


Your right foot should face forward while your left foot is turned to a 45-degree angle. Place your palms, so they are downward-facing, and raise your arms so that they are parallel with the floor. As you move your right hand forward, bend over on the right side at the hip. Your right hand can be lowered to your shin or the floor.


Raise your left arm to the ceiling with your palm opposite of your body. You can look up at the ceiling, at the floor, or straight ahead. Keep this pose for no more than a minute before switching to the other side.

triangle pose

Things to Consider
Although weight-bearing yoga poses are important for maintaining bone health, try not to do poses that add stress to your bones. Any strain or pressure can cause falls and fractures.


If you find poses that target your thighs, hips, and spine challenging, try modified poses. Only attempt inversions if you already have practiced and trained for them.


Yoga Is Beneficial for Osteoporosis

Yoga is beneficial for osteoporosis because it promotes strength in both your muscles and bones. These can help you improve your posture, stability, and balance. Engaging in yoga reduces pain as well as your risk of getting a bone fracture.


In a study of 30 postmenopausal women suffering from osteoporosis, their bone mineral density improved. In the 6-month study, the women didn't report any pain or discomfort. This makes it a safe option for improving bone health.


When doing yoga, implementing breathing exercises can help you to relax your body and mind. It can also help you reduce stress and anxiety. More studies need to be done to figure out why breathing exercises can help you relax.


The Best Type of Yoga for Osteoporosis
If you are someone who lives with osteoporosis, engage in yoga that is low-impact. Yin, Hatha, and restorative are some yoga disciplines you can practice. Avoid power yoga, ashtanga, or vinyasa as they are more strenuous.


Instead of doing a long yoga session a few times a week, you can do a 15-minute routine every day. If you have the time, you can do a 30-minute or even 90-minute session. Just make sure you listen to your body and don't overdo it.


The Wrap

Although more studies need to be done to prove whether yoga can undo the results of osteoporosis, it does come with some benefits. Yoga can improve your balance and increase your core strength, so you don't fall and break any bones. Yoga has also been shown to improve bone strength.


Even with yoga, it may be necessary to have some medical intervention to address the issues that come with osteoporosis. Here at the Georgia Vascular Institute, we provide outpatient procedures to help you with pain that comes from osteoporosis. If you have a collapsed vertebra, we can stabilize them through kyphoplasty. Contact us today.