This article is separated in 4 chapters:
Part 1: How can yoga help to strengthen your bone capacity?
Part 2: Yoga for osteoporosis
Part 3: Asana practise for people with osteoporosis
Part 4: Example of asana practise
Today you can read part 4:
Example of asana practise
As a teacher, ahimsa (nonharming) is my first priority. I always advice my student to identify sensations in the joints (knee, hip, shoulder). If a student feels any pain surrounding a joint, I always ask him/her to feel if it’s a healthy stretch or a sharp, bad pain. We intuitively know the difference between good pain and sharp, bad pain. Unhealthy pain indicates that the student is potentially about to damage a ligament or tendon. If it’s an unhealthy pain I advice them to back off from the pose until the pain has subsided and/or perform the asana less intense than they did before. Eventually I teach the student to perform another asana, which stretches the same muscle group but doesn’t harm ligament or tendon.
As I deal with the diagnosis of low bone mass, my yoga practice is undergoing a shift. In my own asana practice I don’t involve continual forward bends. When I do uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend), I bend my knees so my back doesn’t round into a position that may increase a risk of vertebral fracture. I still twist, but I no longer tuck my elbow outside my thigh or thread my arms through my legs and clasp my hands.
Since weight-bearing exercise has been shown to strengthen bone, I try to include postures that involve moving my body against gravity, particularly poses that use my arms and upper body. Examples: Side Plank, Handstand against a wall, and vinyasas in a slow pace: Down Dog, Plank, staff pose, Upward-Facing Dog).
I also focus on balance postures (such as Treepose and Gurudasana). Further I love to practise restorative postures like Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose). In this inversion the stagnated blood in the smallest capillaries and veins in our legs flow back towards the heart without any effort. I often do this pose whenever I feel overwhelmed, tired or stressed because it has a grounding, nourishing and calming effect on me.
Below you’ll find a selection of these postures. Remember: nothing in this article should be construed as a medical advice. Osteoporosis is a serious condition, always consult a doctor about any medical concerns and before starting any (yoga) exercise regimen. If you want to understand and experience the beneficial elements of yoga asana practise, practising under guidance of an experienced yoga teacher (preferably specialised in yoga for osteoporosis) is firmly required. 🙂
- Perform Adho Mukha Svanasana. Shift onto the outside edge of your left foot, and stack your right foot on top of the left. Now swing your right hand onto your right hip, turn your torso to the right as you do, and support the weight of your body on the outer left foot and left hand.
- Make sure that the supporting hand isn’t directly below its shoulder; position the hand slightly in front of its shoulder, so the supporting arm is angled a bit relative to the floor. Straighten the arm by firming the triceps muscle, and press the base of the index finger firmly against the floor.
- Firm the scapulas and sacrum against the back torso. Strengthen the thighs, and press through the heels toward the floor. Align your entire body into one long diagonal line from the heels to the crow
- If you’d like you can stretch the top arm toward the ceiling, parallel to the line of the shoulders. Keep the head in a neutral position, or turn it to gaze up at the top hand.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
This posture you can build up gradually under de guidance of an experienced yoga teacher. To come into the classical pose, begin in Balasana (Child’s Pose) with your arms extended in front of you. Have your hands shoulder-distance apart, creases of the wrists parallel to the front edge of the mat. You can turn your hands out slightly to help you extend out of your shoulders. As you press down with your hands, try to lift your forearms away from the ground; this is an important intention and will stabilize your shoulders once you move into the full pose.
Next, externally rotate your shoulders, then firm your outer upper-arm muscles in toward the bone. On an inhalation, draw yourself up to your hands and knees, feet hip-distance apart. On an exhalation, press your hips back and up. Glance at your feet to make sure they are parallel, then let your head hang, observing the relationship of your head to your upper arms.
1.Sit on the floor with your legs together and extended in front of your torso. If your torso is leaning back, it may be because tight hamstrings are dragging the sitting bones toward the knees and the back of the pelvis toward the floor. It may be helpful to sit on a blanket or a bolster to lift the pelvis.
2.A simple way to check alignment is to sit with your back against a wall. The sacrum and the shoulder blades should touch the wall, but not lower back or the back of the head. Put a small rolled-up towel between the wall and the lower back.
3.Sit towards the front of the sitting bones, and adjust the pubis and tail bone equidistant from the floor. Without hardening the belly, firm the thighs, press them down against the floor (or your support), rotate them slightly toward each other, and draw the inner groins toward the sacrum. Flex your ankles, pressing out through your heels.
4.To lengthen your front torso perpendicular to the floor, think of energy streaming upward from the pubis to the sternum, then down the back from the shoulders to the tail bone. Then imagine the tail lengthening into the floor.
- Imagine your spine as the ” staff” at the vertical core of your torso. rooted firmly in the earth, the support and pivot of all you do. Hold the pose for one minute or longer.
Yoga for Osteoporosis: The Complete Guide by Loren Fishman and Ellen Saltonstall.