Osteoporosis is the most common cause for a broken bone among the elderly. If you’re concerned about your bone health, there’s good news: practicing yoga postures—for just 12 minutes a day—could improve bone quality.

Columbia University physiatrist Dr. Loren M. Fishman and colleagues followed 741 people (202 of them women and the average age of 68) over ten years. 227 of the participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the researchers’ prescribed yoga daily regimen showed improved bone density in the spine, hips, and femur, as well as improved bone quality.

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No matter what style of yoga you choose, in general yoga has fitness and health benefits. Now we can add to the list bone health benefits. The study also found no reported or X-ray detected serious injuries or fractures as a result of doing yoga (and most of the participants had osteoporosis or its precursor osteopenia). So it can’t hurt! (Well, except while doing a challenging pose.)

Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss | Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation via The New York Times

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Photo by litratcher.

Yoga has along list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture. Even balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self awareness and self-esteem. Yoga’s forward folds have to be eliminated for the osteoporosis crowd but the rotational poses actually increase bone density.

Dr. Loren M. Fishman is a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. He has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy. The idea that yoga helps with bone density is not widely accepted in the medical community. More than 700,000 spinal fractures and more than 300,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States. Dr. Fishman hoped that this low-cost and less dangerous alternative to bone-loss drugs is worth pursuing.

Bone-loss medications can produce adverse side effects like gastrointestinal distress and fractures of the femur. A study published in “Clinical Interventions in Aging” found that of 126,188 women found to have osteoporosis, all of whom had Medicare Part D drug coverage, only 28 percent started bone drug therapy within a year of diagnosis. Most people do know that the prescribed medications come with complicating factors and risks.

On the other hand, yoga’s “side effects”, Dr. Fishman and colleagues wrote recently, “include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait.” How does yoga work to increase bone density? “Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does,” he said in an interview. “By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.”

The 12 poses, by their English names, that were shown to help the most were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds. The daily regimen, once learned, took 12 minutes to complete. However, Dr. Fishman does advocate that if you don’t learn to do these correctly and with modifications you can hurt yourself. It is very important to learn these poses with corrections from a qualified instructor. If you choose to try to do them without instruction they may not be effective or worse, injure yourself.

“Yoga looks like it’s safe, even for people who have suffered significant bone loss,” Dr Fishman said in an interview. Additionally, “improvements in posture and balance that can accrue from the practice of yoga can be protective”. “Spinal fractures can result from poor posture, and there’s no medication for that, but yoga is helpful”.

In addition, yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety, all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall. If you don’t fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture. We will be offering yoga for osteoporosis all built around these 12 poses known to increase bone density and improve balance and posture! Please contact us at [email protected] if you want to join us.

You can also request our free osteoporosis report by calling us at (360) 456-1444 or by visiting https://penrosept.lpages.co/osteo-report/ where you can download it instantly. The report, titled

“7 Ways To Prevent Fractures If You Have ‘Soft Bones’ – How To Stop Shrinking By Improving Posture, And Decrease That Rounded Upper Back!”

details the 7 tips to live by if you have soft bones, as well as 3 simple things you can do to help ease the stress on the soft bones. Don’t delay your future of activity and healthy bones! Get your report today and let us know if you’re interested in our yoga classes for osteoporosis!

THE 12 BEST POSES, according to a recent New York Times article, are…

I. VRIKSHASANA (TREE POSE)

Tree Pose: Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Stand in Mountain Pose (basically just standing up straight). Shift your weight slightly onto the left foot, keeping the inner foot firm to the floor, and bend your right knee. Reach down with your right hand and clasp your right ankle.
  2. Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh; if possible, press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor. The center of your pelvis should be directly over the left foot.
  3. Rest your hands on the top rim of your pelvis. Make sure the pelvis is in a neutral position, with the top rim parallel to the floor.
  4. Press your hands together in prayer pose. Gaze softly at a fixed point in front of you on the floor about 4 or 5 feet away.
  5. Keep staring at your focal point on the floor. Keep the left leg strong pressing the foot into the floor. Keep the right knee bent 90 degrees towards the side wall. The shoulders are down and back and the chest is pressing forward. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor. Firmly press the right foot sole against the inner thigh and resist with the outer left leg.
  6. If you are very balanced here, try the next stage by inhaling the arms over the head. The arms are in an H position, or the palms are together with the thumbs crossed, or the fingers are interlaced with the index finger pointed up. The fingers are reaching up and the shoulders are down and back.
  7. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. To release: slowly exhale the arms down and then release the legs back into mountain, with an exhalation. Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Tree pose increases balance, focus, memory and concentration and strengthens the ankles and knees.
  • Contraindications: Recent or chronic knee or hip injury.
  • Video Demonstration of Tree Pose: http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/tree-pose/

II. TRIANGLE POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. From a standing position with the legs 3 feet apart as in Five Pointed Star, turn the right toes to the right wall and the left toes slightly inwards. Inhale and press the left hips out to the left as you slide both arms to the right parallel to the floor.
  2. Exhale and rotate only the arms, raising the left arm up and resting the right hand against the right leg, with the palms facing forward.
  3. Press into the feet, pull up the knee caps, keeping the legs strong. Reach the finger tips away from each other, bringing the arms into one straight line with the shoulders stacked on top of each other. Press the left hip forward and the right hip back.
  4. Breathe and hold for 3-6 breaths.
  5. To release: inhale and reach the raised hand up towards the ceiling as you press down into the feet using the whole body to lift back into 5 pointed star.
  6. Repeat on the other side.

BENEFITS, CONTRAINDICATIONS, MODIFICATIONS, DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Triangle pose engages every part of the body, strengthens the core, opens the hips and shoulders and stretches the legs.
  • Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the hips, back or shoulders.
  • Modifications: Use a yoga block on the floor to support the lower hand.
  • Variations: A) Bring the raised arm over the ear parallel to the floor. B) The lower hand can rest on the floor on the inside or outside of the leg, or the lower hand can grasp the big toe with the middle and index fingers.
  • Video Demonstrations: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDJrFxzXdDw, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uQMpU8CPJYw

III. WARRIOR II POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Stand in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3 1/2 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down.
  2. Turn your right foot slightly to the right and your left foot out to the left 90 degrees. Align the left heel with the right heel. Firm your thighs and turn your left thigh outward so that the center of the left knee cap is in line with the center of the left ankle.
  3. Exhale and bend your left knee over the left ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. If possible, bring the left thigh parallel to the floor. Anchor this movement of the left knee by strengthening the right leg and pressing the outer right heel firmly to the floor.
  4. Stretch the arms away from the space between the shoulder blades, parallel to the floor. Don’t lean the torso over the left thigh: Keep the sides of the torso equally long and the shoulders directly over the pelvis. Press the tailbone slightly toward the pubis. Turn the head to the left and look out over the fingers.
  5. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left.

BENEFITS, CONTRAINDICATIONS, MODIFICATIONS, DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: enhances strength, stability, and concentration. A powerful stretch for the legs, groins, and chest, it helps to relieve backaches, and stimulates healthy digestion. A deep hip-opening pose that strengthens the muscles in the thighs and buttocks. It tones the abdomen, ankles, and arches of the feet. This pose also opens the chest and shoulders, improving breathing capacity and increasing circulation throughout the body. It is also known to be therapeutic for flat feet, sciatica, infertility, and osteoporosis.
  • Contraindications: Do not practice Warrior II if you have a recent hip, knee, or shoulder injury, or if you are experiencing diarrhea or high blood pressure. Those with neck injuries should not turn their head to face the front hand (in step 10). Always work within your own range of limits and abilities.
  • Video Demonstration – http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/warrior-ii-pose/

IV. SIDE-ANGLE POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Stand in Tadasana. On an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3.5 to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in slightly to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle. Roll the left hip slightly forward, toward the right, but rotate your upper torso back to the left.
  2. Anchor the left (back) heel to the floor by lifting the inner left groin deep into the pelvis. Then exhale and bend your right knee over the right ankle, so that the shin is perpendicular to the floor. As you bend the knee aim the inner knee toward the little-toe side of the foot. If possible, bring the right thigh parallel to the floor.
  3. Firm your shoulder blades against the back ribs. Extend your left arm straight up toward the ceiling, then turn the left palm to face toward your head and with an inhalation reach the arm over the back of your left ear, palm facing the floor. Stretch from your left heel through your left fingertips, lengthening the entire left side of your body. Turn your head to look at the left arm. Release your right shoulder away from the ear. Try to create as much length along the right side of your torso as you do along the left.
  4. As you continue to ground your left heel to the floor, exhale and lay the right side of your torso down onto (or bring it as close as possible to) the top of the right thigh. Press your right fingertips (or palm) on the floor just outside of your right foot. Actively push the right knee back against the inner arm; counter this by burrowing your tail bone into the back of your pelvis, toward the pubis. The inside of your right thigh should be parallel with the long edge of your sticky mat.
  5. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Inhale to come up. Push both heels strongly into the floor and reach the left arm forcefully toward the ceiling to lighten the upward movement. Reverse the feet and repeat for the same length of time to the left. Then come up and return to Tadasana.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Strengthens the legs, knees, and ankles. Stretches the groins, spine, waist, chest and lungs, and shoulders. Stimulates abdominal organs. Increases stamina. Relieves Constipation, Infertility, Low backache, Osteoporosis!, Sciatica, Menstrual discomfort.
  • Contraindications: Headache, High/low blood pressure, Insomnia. If you have any neck problems don’t turn your head to look at the top arm; instead look straight ahead with the sides of the neck lengthened evenly, or look down at the floor.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/extended-side-angle-pose-2/

V. REVOLVED or TWISTED TRIANGLE POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Stand in Tadasana. With an exhalation, step or lightly jump your feet 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and reach them actively out to the sides, shoulder blades wide, palms down. Turn your left foot in 45 to 60 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Align the right heel with the left heel. Firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, so that the center of the right kneecap is in line with the center of the right ankle.
  2. With an exhalation, turn your torso to the right, and square your hip points as much as possible with the front edge of your yoga mat. As you bring the left hip around to the right, resist the head of the left thigh bone back and firmly ground the left heel.
  3. With another exhalation, turn your torso further to the right and lean forward over the front leg. Reach your left hand down, either to the floor (inside or outside the foot) or, if the floor is too far away, onto a block positioned against your inner right foot. Allow the left hip to drop slightly toward the floor. You may feel the right hip slip out to the side and lift up toward the shoulder, and the torso hunch over the front leg. To counteract this, press the outer right thigh actively to the left and release the right hip away from the right shoulder. Use your right hand, if necessary, to create these two movements, hooking the thumb into the right hip crease.
  4. Beginning students should keep their head in a neutral position, looking straight forward, or turn it to look at the floor. More experienced students can turn the head and gaze up at the top thumb. From the center of the back, between the shoulder blades, press the arms away from the torso. Bring most of your weight to bear on the back heel and the front hand.
  5. Stay in this pose anywhere from 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale, release the twist, and bring your torso back to upright with an inhalation. Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed, twisting to the left.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Contraindications: Back or spine injury. Perform this pose only with the supervision of an experienced teacher or avoid it altogether. Also avoid this pose if you have: Low blood pressure, Migraine, Diarrhea, Headache, Insomnia.
  • Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the legs, hips and spine. Opens the chest to improve breathing. Relieves mild back pain. Stimulates the abdominal organs. Improves sense of balance. Relieves Constipation, Digestive problems, Asthma, Lower backache, Sciatica.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/revolved-triangle-pose/

VI. LOCUST POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. For this pose you might want to pad the floor below your pelvis and ribs with a folded blanket. Lie on your belly with your arms along the sides of your torso, palms up, forehead resting on the floor. Turn your big toes toward each other to inwardly rotate your thighs, and firm your buttocks so your coccyx presses toward your pubis.
  2. Exhale and lift your head, upper torso, arms, and legs away from the floor. You’ll be resting on your lower ribs, belly, and front pelvis. Firm your buttocks and reach strongly through your legs, first through the heels to lengthen the back legs, then through the bases of the big toes. Keep the big toes turned toward each other.
  3. Raise your arms parallel to the floor and stretch back actively through your fingertips. Imagine there’s a weight pressing down on the backs of the upper arms, and push up toward the ceiling against this resistance. Press your scapulas firmly into your back.
  4. Gaze forward or slightly upward, being careful not to jut your chin forward and crunch the back of your neck. Keep the base of the skull lifted and the back of the neck long.
  5. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation. Take a few breaths and repeat 1 or 2 times more if you like.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Strengthens the muscles of the spine, buttocks, and backs of the arms and legs. Stretches the shoulders, chest, belly, and thighs. Improves posture. Stimulates abdominal organs. Helps relieve stress. Relives Fatigue, Flatulence, Constipation, Indigestion, Lower-back pain.
  • Contraindications: Headache, Serious back injury, Students with neck injuries should keep their head in a neutral position by looking down at the floor; they might also support the forehead on a thickly folded blanket.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/video/video/locust-pose/

VII. BRIDGE POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
  2. Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the tops of your shoulders.
  3. Lift your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.
  4. Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the base of the neck (where it’s resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
  5. Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Stretches the chest, neck, and spine. Stimulates abdominal organs, lungs, and thyroid. Rejuvenates tired legs. Improves digestion. Helps relieve Symptoms of menopause, reduces anxiety, fatigue, backache, headache, and insomnia. Therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and sinusitis. Calms the brain and helps alleviate stress and mild depression.
  • Contraindications: Any neck injury.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/bridge-pose/

VIII, VIX. SUPINE (RECLINING) HAND-TO-FOOT POSE (Variations 1 & 2)

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Lie supine on the floor, legs strongly extended. If your head doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it on a folded blanket. Exhale, bend the left knee, and draw the thigh into your torso. Hug the thigh to your belly. Press the front of the right thigh heavily to the floor, and push actively through the right heel.
  2. Loop a strap around the arch of the left foot and hold the strap in both hands. Inhale and straighten the knee, pressing the left heel up toward the ceiling. Walk your hands up the strap until the elbows are fully extended. Broaden the shoulder blades across your back. Keeping the hands as high on the strap as possible, press the shoulder blades lightly into the floor. Widen the collarbones away from the sternum.
  3. Extend up first through the back of the left heel, and once the back of the leg between the heel and sitting bone is fully lengthened, lift through the ball of the big toe. Begin with the raised leg perpendicular to the floor. Release the head of the thigh bone more deeply into the pelvis and, as you do, draw the foot a little closer to your head, increasing the stretch on the back of the leg.
  4. You can stay here in this stretch, or turn the leg outward from the hip joint, so the knee and toes look to the left. Pinning the top of the right thigh to the floor, exhale and swing the left leg out to the left and hold it a few inches off the floor. Continue rotating the leg. As you feel the outer thigh move away from the left side of the torso, try to bring the left foot in line with the left shoulder joint. Inhale to bring the leg back to vertical. Lighten your grip on the strap as you do, so that you challenge the muscles of the inner thigh and hip to do the work.
  5. Hold the vertical position of the leg anywhere from 1 to 3 minutes, and the side position for an equal length of time. Once you have returned to vertical release the strap, hold the leg in place for 30 seconds or so, then slowly release as you exhale. Repeat on the right for the same length of time.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Stretches hips, inner thighs, hamstrings, groins, and calves. Strengthens the knees. Stimulates the prostate gland. Improves digestion. Relieves backache, sciatica, and menstrual discomfort. Therapeutic for high blood pressure, flat feet, and infertility. Relieves arthritis pain in hips and knees. Aligns pelvis.
  • Contraindications: Hamstring tear, Diarrhea, Headache, High blood pressure: Raise your head and neck on a folded blanket.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/reclining-big-toe-pose/

X. SUPINE PELVIC TWIST

Step-by-Step Instructions

Variation #1 Knees Bent

  1. Lying on your back, bring your arms out to the sides with the palms facing down in a T position. Bend both knees into the chest.
  2. Exhale drop both knees over to the left side of your body, twisting the spine and low back. Slide the knees as close to the left arm as possible. Look at the right finger tips.
  3. Keep the shoulders flat to the floor, close the eyes, and relax into the posture. Let gravity pull the knees down, so you do not have to use any effort in this posture.
  4. Breathe and hold for 6-10 breaths.
  5. To release: inhale and roll the hips back to the floor.
  6. Repeat on other side.

Variation #2 Legs Straight

  1. Begin in the supine position with your knees bent and your feet kept flat on the ground. You can keep your head on a blanket or pillow to support your neck.
  2. While breathing out, bring your knees to your chest and let your hands wrap around them.
  3. Let your arms extend out along the ground at the height of your shoulders with your palms facing the ground. Make your legs straight so that they come toward the ceiling. Be sure that your back is flat on the ground.
  4. While breathing out bring your legs down to your left and allow your right hip to come off the ground. Allow the gravitational force to pull your legs all the way down. Your left leg should rest on the ground. The outer part of your right ankle should rest on top of your left ankle.
  5. Try to bring your legs and torso to a 90-degree angle. If your legs are angled toward your left shoulder you can hold your left foot’s toe with the fingers of your right hand.
  6. Let your head turn to the right and softly gaze at the fingertips of your right hand. Remain in this pose for around 10–25 breaths.
  7. While breathing in, slowly get back to the center position and raise your feet to the ceiling. Then bend your knees and hold onto them towards your chest. While breathing out bring your heels to the ceiling again and repeat the steps on the other side.
  8. Once you’re done with the pose, hold your knees to your chest for a few breaths and slowly breathe out while extending both legs along the ground.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Belly Twist pose stretches the back muscles, realigns and lengthens the spine, and hydrates the spinal disks. This is truly a full-body pose. In addition to the strengthening of the core, shoulder, and legs, another benefit of this exercise is the detoxification of the internal organs – liver, spleen, and intestines – and providing great aid in the alleviation of lower back pain.
  • Contraindications: Recent or chronic injury to the knees, hips or back.
  • Video Demonstration: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcTgP9ZYCmM

XI. BENT-KNEE TWIST

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. To begin, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. You can rest your head on a pillow or blanket for extra neck support. Let your arms rest at your sides.
  2. On an exhalation, draw both knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them. This is Knee-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana).
  3. Extend your left leg along the floor, keeping your right knee drawn to your chest. Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palm facing down.
  4. Shift your hips slightly to the right. Then, place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Exhaling, drop your right knee over the left side of your body. Keep your left hand resting gently on your right knee.
  5. Turn your head to the right. Soften your gaze toward your right fingertips. Keep your shoulder blades pressing toward the floor and away from your ears. Allow the force of gravity to drop your knee even closer to the floor. If your right toes can touch the floor, allow your foot to rest.
  6. Hold the pose for 10-25 breaths. On an inhalation, slowly come back to center, bringing both knees to your chest in Knees-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana).
  7. Exhale, and extend your right leg along the floor. Repeat steps 3-6 on the opposite side.
  8. When you’re finished with the pose, hug your knees to your chest for a few breaths in Knee-to-Chest Pose (Apanasana). Then, slowly exhale as you extend both legs along the floor.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Practicing Reclined Spinal Twist is a great way to release tension and toxins, while also lengthening and strengthening your spine. Stretches the back muscles and glutes; massages the back and hips; helps to hydrate the spinal disks; lengthens, relaxes, and realigns the spine; massages the abdominal organs; strengthens the abdominal muscles. This twist also encourages the flow of fresh blood to your digestive organs, increasing the health and function of your entire digestive system.
  • Contraindications: Those with back pain, back injuries, or degenerative disk disease should approach this pose with caution. Avoid practicing this pose if you have a recent or chronic injury to your knees or hips. Always work within your own range of limits and abilities. If you have any medical concerns, talk with your doctor before practicing yoga.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.msn.com/en-us/health/yoga/exercise/YG-IN-0149/supine-spinal-twist-pose

XII. CORPSE POSE

Step-by-Step Instructions

  1. Lying on your back, let the arms and legs drop open, with the arms about 45 degrees from the side of your body. Make sure you are warm and comfortable, if you need to place blankets under or over your body.
  2. Close the eyes, and take slow deep breaths through the nose. Allow your whole body to become soft and heavy, letting it relax into the floor. As the body relaxes, feel the whole body rising and falling with each breath.
  3. Scan the body from the toes to the fingers to the crown of the head, looking for tension, tightness and contracted muscles. Consciously release and relax any areas that you find. If you need to, rock or wiggl part sof your body from side to side to encourage further release.
  4. Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body. Let your body move deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation.
  5. Stay in Shavasana for 5 to 15 minutes.
  6. To release: slowly deepen the breath, wiggle the fingers and toes, reach the arms over your head and stretch the whole body, exhale bend the knees into the chest and roll over to one side coming into a fetal position. When you are ready, slowly inhale up to a seated position.

BENEFITS + CONTRAINDICATIONS + DEMONSTRATIONS

  • Benefits: Corpse pose is essential to practice at the end of every yoga practice. This posture rejuvenates the body, mind and spirit while reducing stress and tension.
  • Video Demonstration: http://www.yogajournal.com/pose/corpse-pose/

POSES THAT HELP YOU DETOX

  • Yoga is an extremely effective way to sit with the difficulty that often comes up through the release of old habits. Yoga can also assist you in getting rid of the unwanted toxins that your body is probably releasing through this dietary change. And hopefully, yoga can be one of the positive habits built into your life that instigates a state of such vitality and vibrancy that your old habits disintegrate and lose power in comparison with the strength and life force that you feel when eating cleanly and taking care of your body.
  • The yoga postures that are most effective in helping you eliminate toxins from your digestive system, kidneys and liver are twists. Twisting postures literally wring out your organs so that when you unwind, new blood and oxygen rush back into them.
  • Twists are best practiced on an empty stomach, first thing in the morning is optimal. But if that is not possible, just wait a few hours after a meal.

Top 5 Seated Yoga Twists

This time of year, when we’re all feeling a little more stress and eating a little more than we should, seated twists are the way to go. They are an amazing way to detoxify the body and calm the nervous system.

Seated yoga twists fire up the digestive system to get things moving as well as stretch the back, shoulders and neck. Here are five great twists to get your body stretched, organs stimulated, and put your mind at ease.

1. Simple Seated Twist

If you’re not accustomed to twisting, simple seated twist is the perfect beginning. Sit on the floor in a cross-legged position. If it’s more comfortable, sit on a folded blanket to raise your hips.

Elongate your spine, and as you inhale, place your right hand flat on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right knee. On the exhale, move deeper into the twist while looking over your right shoulder. Hold for five breaths, then switch sides.

2. Bharadvajasana I

Credit: August Yoga

Start by sitting with your legs straight out in front of you. Bend your knees to bring your feet to your left side with the sides of your legs flat on the floor. Grab a hold of your right knee with your left hand and begin to twist.

If your body allows, you can move your right hand behind you to help support you in the twist. Breathe in this pose for five breaths before switching sides. It may also help you put a folded blanket under your right hip to keep your hips level and you knees pain-free.

3. Marichyasana C

Starting with your legs straight in front of you, bend your right knee so it’s flat on the floor close to your body. Sitting tall, place your right hand behind you to support you. As you exhale, twist to bring your left elbow across your body so it hooks on the outside of your right knee.

If your elbow doesn’t reach, you can bring your arm across your shin and grasp your thigh with your left hand. Remember to keep pressing your right foot down into the earth, and sit tall with your spine straight and shoulders down.

4. Ardha Matsyendrasana

Also known as Half Lord of the Fishes, this pose is also said to increase the appetite and destroy deadly diseases. Starting with your legs straight out in front of you, bend your knees to bring your right foot close to your left buttocks and your left foot flat on the floor outside your right thigh.

Sit tall, inhale, and place your left hand behind you to serve as a tripod. As you exhale, bring your right elbow across the body and place it outside your left knee. On each inhale get taller, and on each exhale twist deeper. Hold this for five breaths and switch sides.

5. Marichyasana D

Credit: Ashtanga Yoga

If you’re looking for a more advanced and intense twist, there’s Marichyasana D. It’s similar to Ardha Matysendrasana but more intense because you’re adding a bind.

With your right leg tucked under the left and the left foot outside the right thigh, twist your body to hook your left elbow across your right knee. Take a deep inhale, and as you exhale rotate your left arm so you can reach around towards your left hip.

Simultaneously bring your right arm behind your back and reach for your left hand. If possible, grasp your fingertips or hands and lengthen the spine. If you can’t reach, you can hold on to your shirt or hold onto a towel with each hand.

Twists are a great way to wring out the bad stuff, but if you feel any pain in your knees, try sitting on a prop or move out of the pose. Also, pregnant women should always use caution or avoid twists altogether.

Photo Credit Paul Rogers

Personal Health

Jane Brody on health and aging.

Yoga enthusiasts link the practice to a long list of health benefits, including greater flexibility and range of motion, stronger muscles, better posture and balance, reduced emotional and physical stress, and increased self-awareness and self-esteem.

But definitively proving these benefits is challenging, requiring years of costly research. A pharmaceutical company is unlikely to fund a study that doesn’t involve a drug, and in any event, the research requires a large group of volunteers tracked over a very long time.

The subjects must provide health measurements at the outset, learn the proper poses, continue to do them regularly for years and be regularly evaluated.

No one knows these challenges better than Dr. Loren M. Fishman, a physiatrist at Columbia University who specializes in rehabilitative medicine. For years, he has been gathering evidence on yoga and bone health, hoping to determine whether yoga might be an effective therapy for osteoporosis.

The idea is not widely accepted in the medical community, but then, researchers know comparatively little about complementary medicine in general. So in 2005, Dr. Fishman began a small pilot study of yoga moves that turned up some encouraging results. Eleven practitioners had increased bone density in their spine and hips, he reported in 2009, compared with seven controls who did not practice yoga.

Knowing that more than 700,000 spinal fractures and more than 300,000 hip fractures occur annually in the United States, Dr. Fishman hoped that similar findings from a much larger study might convince doctors that this low-cost and less dangerous alternative to bone-loss drugs is worth pursuing.

Those medications can produce adverse side effects like gastrointestinal distress and fractures of the femur. Indeed, a recent study published in Clinical Interventions in Aging found that among 126,188 women found to have osteoporosis, all of whom had Medicare Part D drug coverage, only 28 percent started bone drug therapy within a year of diagnosis.

Many of those who avoided drugs were trying to avoid gastrointestinal problems.

On the other hand, yoga’s “side effects,” Dr. Fishman and colleagues wrote recently, “include better posture, improved balance, enhanced coordination, greater range of motion, higher strength, reduced levels of anxiety and better gait.”

Weight-bearing activity is often recommended to patients with bone loss, and Dr. Fishman argues that certain yoga positions fit the bill.

“Yoga puts more pressure on bone than gravity does,” he said in an interview. “By opposing one group of muscles against another, it stimulates osteocytes, the bone-making cells.”

Most experts argue that it’s difficult, perhaps impossible, for adults to gain significant bone mass. Undeterred, Dr. Fishman invested a chunk of his own money and with three collaborators — Yi-Hsueh Lu of The Rockefeller University, Bernard Rosner of Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dr. Gregory Chang of New York University — solicited volunteers worldwide via the Internet for a follow-up to his small pilot study.

Of the 741 people who joined his experiment from 2005 to 2015, 227 (202 of them women) followed through with doing the 12 assigned yoga poses daily or at least every other day. The average age of the 227 participants upon joining the study was 68, and 83 percent had osteoporosis or its precursor, osteopenia.

The 12 poses, by their English names, were tree, triangle, warrior II, side-angle, twisted triangle, locust, bridge, supine hand-to-foot I, supine hand-to-foot II, straight-legged twist, bent-knee twist and corpse pose. Each pose was held for 30 seconds. The daily regimen, once learned, took 12 minutes to complete.

The researchers collected data at the start of the study on the participants’ bone density measurements, blood and urine chemistry and X-rays of their spines and hips. They were each given a DVD of the 12 yoga poses used in the pilot study and an online program in which to record what they did and how often.

A decade after the start of the study, bone density measurements were again taken and emailed to the researchers; many participants also had repeat X-rays done. The findings, as reported last month in Topics of Geriatric Rehabilitation, showed improved bone density in the spine and femur of the 227 participants who were moderately or fully compliant with the assigned yoga exercises.

Improvements were seen in bone density in the hip as well, but they were not statistically significant.

Before the study, the participants had had 109 fractures, reported by them or found on X-rays.

At the time the study was submitted for publication, “with more than 90,000 hours of yoga practiced largely by people with osteoporosis or osteopenia, there have been no reported or X-ray detected fractures or serious injuries of any kind related to the practice of yoga in any of the 741 participants,” Dr. Fishman and his colleagues wrote.

“Yoga looks like it’s safe, even for people who have suffered significant bone loss,” Dr. Fishman said in an interview.

Furthermore, a special study of bone quality done on 18 of the participants showed that they had “better internal support of their bones, which is not measured by a bone density scan but is important to resisting fractures,” Dr. Fishman said.

The study has many limitations, including the use of self-selected volunteers and the lack of a control group. But all told, the team concluded, the results may lend support to Dr. Fishman’s long-held belief that yoga can help reverse bone loss.

Even if bone density did not increase, improvements in posture and balance that can accrue from the practice of yoga can be protective, Dr. Fishman said.

“Spinal fractures can result from poor posture, and there’s no medication for that, but yoga is helpful,” he said.

In addition, “Yoga is good for range of motion, strength, coordination and reduced anxiety,” he said, “all of which contribute to the ability to stay upright and not fall. If you don’t fall, you greatly reduce your risk of a serious fracture.”

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Yoga: Another way to prevent osteoporosis?

A dozen yoga poses, performed daily, may increase bone density.


Image: tetmc/Thinkstock

Published: May, 2016

Like most of us, you may have become accustomed to thinking that only common weight-bearing exercises—walking, running, jumping, and lifting—provide enough stress on your bones to maintain or increase their density. So a scientific paper titled “Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Routine Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss” came as a surprise. And it appeared to offer women another option to build bone.

What the study found

The researchers who designed the study noted that yoga’s established benefits—including better balance and coordination—protect against falling, a major cause of osteoporotic fractures. They wanted to determine whether the yoga poses they selected might also increase bone density by imposing force on the spine and hips.

They recruited 741 people who joined the study on the Internet between 2005 and 2015. The participants were asked to submit dual energy x-ray absorptiometry (DEXA) scans of their hips and spines, and other lab tests, at the beginning of the study. They also received DVDs with instructions for the yoga poses and were asked to log their yoga activity online.

The logs indicated that 227 participants, 202 of whom were women, practiced the routine at least every other day for two years. Their average age was 68 when they entered the study, and 83% had lower-than-normal bone density. The DEXA scans they submitted at the end of the study showed significant increases in bone density in the spine. Hip bone density increased, too, but not significantly. None of the participants reported bone fractures or other injuries caused by doing yoga.

What do the results mean?

Though promising, the study, published in 2015 in Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation, doesn’t provide conclusive evidence that yoga can reverse bone loss. The researchers acknowledged its drawbacks: less than one-third of the study’s participants adhered to the yoga routine by practicing the poses at least every other day throughout the study, and just 43 submitted complete actual DEXA reports at the beginning and end of the study. “It gives one a reason to be cautiously optimistic, but a more complete study should be done,” says Dr. Marian Hannan, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, whose research includes the effects of biomechanics on physical function.

Dr. Hannan notes the participants were also self-selected, not randomly enrolled. In other words, they wanted to practice yoga. “Would the results be equally promising in people who were simply assigned to do yoga?” she asks. Yoga is a mind-body activity, and to get the most benefit requires full engagement.

Want to try this yoga routine?

The poses practiced in the study are illustrated below. Each pose should be held for 30 seconds and followed by a 30-second pause.

If you already practice yoga, you may be familiar with these poses. If you haven’t done yoga before, but think it’s worth giving the routine a try, you should take lessons from a professional yoga instructor to learn be-ginners’ versions of the poses and ensure you are doing them properly to avoid injury. Study participants were advised to seek an instructor of Iyengar yoga, which emphasizes body alignment and breath control.

The DVD used in the study, which also demonstrates adaptations of the poses that are easier for beginners, is available for $25 from sciatica.org, a website maintained by Dr. Loren Fishman, the lead investigator of the study.


Disclaimer:
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review on all articles. No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.

5 Yoga Poses That’ll Keep Your Bones Healthy (Plus How)

In 2015, The New York Times published an article that offered a strong picture of what bone health could look like for women and men practicing yoga despite diagnoses of osteopenia and/or osteoporosis.

A decade-long study showed that with an accumulated 90,000 hours of practice, not one of the 741 participants (average age of 68) reported new fractures resulting from their 12-minute yoga routine. Of the 227 participants who practiced the routine at least every other day, all showed improved bone density in their spines and femur bones.

Since the publication of this article, research continues at the Harvard Medical School and other locations to build a more complete understanding of the benefits of yoga for bone health.

We’ll take a closer look at five of the key poses used in this study and how they benefit bone health.

1. Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Image credit: Drinie Aguilar

As a standing, one-legged, balancing posture, Tree Pose is a fantastic choice for cultivating stability in your ankles, knees, and hips. This pose teaches you to find a strong connection to the ground and to realign your core and spine in relation to the earth. By extending energy from the earth through your spine, your posture improves with less effort. As you practice balancing on one foot, you train your body to avoid faltering and falling.

2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)

Image credit: Mandy

Another asymmetrical standing posture, triangle pose keeps both of your feet on the ground, but asks you to shift the weight of your shoulders forward of your hips. In doing so, you learn how to balance “off center.”

Additionally, you take a spinal twist while in this pose, which gives you a comprehensive awareness of your core muscles on the front, sides, and back of your body. Holding your spine straight in this pose and extending length through your midback helps you find your quadratus lumborum and oblique muscles (side core) like nothing else can.

3. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose)

Image credit: Heather Gjerde

This pose requires you to support your body weight by bearing down into the earth strongly through your knees, ankles, and feet, as well as your arms and shoulders. In addition to offering weight-bearing benefits for these bones, Bridge Pose benefits your spine. As an inverted posture (your heart and pelvis move below your head), Bridge Pose reverses the pull of gravity on your spine, easing compression in your spinal column.

4. Supta Padangustasana (Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose)

Many standing and seated forward-folding postures are contraindicated for osteopenia and osteoporosis because of the amount of pressure they place on spinal vertebra; however, Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose allows for the same benefits of a forward fold (lengthening the spinal column, practicing healthy body mechanics by learning to “hinge” from the hips) without pressure on your spine and with the full support of the floor.

5. Savasana

Image credit: Sanàa Jaman

Every yoga practice is a mix of doing and being. This pose is the perfect balance to your psychological need to “do something in order to get somewhere.” Savasana re-establishes the importance of rest amid any effort to maintain health and strength. The pose teaches you to listen to your body, trust its intelligence, and give it time and space to integrate new ways of stretching, stabilizing, and balancing in the moments following your practice.

Any yoga pose has the potential to harm or to heal. Each of these poses was taught to the practitioners in the study under the guidance of a DVD instructed by a certified professional. Among the recommendations provided was that each pose be held for 30 seconds and that it involve periods of breathing and integration before taking the next posture. If you are thinking about taking on a yoga practice to help improve your bone health, be sure to find good guidance.

Image credit: Kate Swarm

Supine hand to foot II

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