How Yoga Can Help Develop Healthy Bones, By Wendy Hassenpflug
Wendy Hassenpflug, owner of Vayu Yoga®, shares tips on how to practice yoga correctly for optimal bone health.
By Wendy Hassenpflug, MS, E-RYT
Have you ever thought about what allows your body to move? Our bones support our body and allow us to run, walk, sit and move through space. They also act as a protective shield for our brain, heart, and other organs. Imagine if we didn’t have ribs that surrounded our vital organs.
Our bones play a vital role in the functioning of our body. In addition to our 206 bones, the skeletal system including cartilage, ligaments and connective tissue all work together to stabilize body position and produce movement.
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If we don’t eat right, treat our body well, or get enough of the right kinds of exercise, our bones can become weak or brittle. This makes us more susceptible to breaks, and at risk for other long-lasting health problems. How do we know if our bones are healthy or unhealthy?
Here are some important bone points to be aware of:
- Having more than one fracture in one calendar year
- Taking certain steroids over long periods of time
- Drinking alcoholic beverages or smoking daily
- Smoking daily
- Family history of osteoporosis
- Having a small body frame and low BMI
It is important to know how to maintain bone health. Both men and women reach their maximum bone mass at around 30 years of age. After that our entire body starts to show the effects of aging.
Women in particular, can lose up to 20 percent of bone mass in the 5-7 years after menopause (National Osteoporosis Foundation). The two key elements to maintaining healthy bones are through weight-bearing exercises and proper nutrition.
Yoga is a weight-bearing exercise, meaning that you hold the weight of your body up against gravity. The more that we learn about bone health, the more that we are finding that yoga and proper nutrition create a foundation for healthy bones.
You may ask yourself, how is yoga any different than running, biking, or any other activity? Yoga, is different from other weight-bearing activities because it won’t stress the joints or damage cartilage. Yoga lengthens muscles, creating tension on the bones. Yoga is meant to be practiced every day, but any amount of yoga is better than none at all.
Here are some poses that you should incorporate into your regular yoga practice for bone health and strength:
- Bridge pose
- Mountain pose
- Tree pose
- Warrior II
- Chair pose
Certain poses should be practiced with care, or maybe even avoided, especially if you have back injuries of conditions:
Forward folds, twists, and backbends
Before attempting any yoga postures, it’s important to learn how to stand correctly and find proper alignment. Many of us think that we are standing up tall or straight, but in reality, we are misaligned due to postural deviations or poor postural habits.
Mountain pose is one of the best foundational poses to learn in yoga, the concepts can be applied to many other poses once they are learned.
Our skeletal system (muscles, bones, ligaments and cartilage) constantly works to preserve our body, externally and internally. Yoga can help realign many different mechanical imbalances that may be causing knee pain, low back pain or neck and shoulder pain.
Yoga poses help strengthen the areas that are most likely to suffer, like the hips, spine, and wrists. Poses that focus on the spine can also help improve posture, preventing the affects of gravity and poor posture like hunched back.
If you are a beginning yoga student be sure to take the time to find an experienced teacher who is trained in a style of yoga that focuses on alignment and safety. Explain any conditions, injuries or hesitations that you have before the class starts so that the teacher can guide you correctly. Yoga can be wonderful for bone strength, but it can also be detrimental if it’s practiced incorrectly.
In addition to practicing yoga daily, include other weight-bearing exercises like walking, running, riding a bike, or even climbing stairs. The more activity you can incorporate into your daily life, the more you will maintain bone strength and slow down bone loss.
Eat foods that are rich in calcium and vitamin D, like dark leafy greens, legumes, egg yolks, tuna, mackerel and salmon.
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Vayu Yoga® provides a broad range of specialty instruction that pertain to training the body and mind via floor-based yoga, aerial yoga, YogaWall®, Pilates®, and other related stretching and therapeutic practices. We offer many styles and levels of yoga, including Restorative, Meditation, Gentle, and Therapeutic Yoga.
Our experienced teachers provide personalized attention to our students through small group trainings (1-8 students). Vayu Yoga® gives students the tools they need to perform a safe practice for their individual bodies, teaching how to listen to their bodies, and create a strong awareness in their practice.
About Santa Clarita Vayu Yoga® Owner Wendy Hassenpflug
Wendy Hassenpflug is an E-RYT (Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher), through Yoga Alliance, Certified Holistic Nutritionist, Certified Pilates Teacher (Pilates Method Alliance), Certified Personal Trainer (National College of Exercise Professionals). She holds a Master of Science in Kinesiology and a Bachelor of Exercise and Sport Science, and has over 26 years of experience as an educator in secondary and higher education.
Wendy teaches private, duet, and small group trainings at her studio Vayu Yoga®, located at 24353 Main Street Newhall, CA 91321. Visit http://www.vayuyoga.com for more information or to schedule an appointment or book a training.
Wendy hosts “Vibrant Living with Vayu Yoga®” on AM 1220 KHTS radio in Santa Clarita, CA, Tuesdays from 11:00am till Noon. Click here to listen to podcasts.
Article: How Yoga Can Help Develop Healthy Bones, By Wendy Hassenpflug
Source: Santa Clarita News