YOGA: Good for what ails you?
What if we could avoid degenerative bone loss with some simple yoga poses done at home?
By Lisa Nelson Raabe
I bet you have heard the sound of this word recently – yoga. We have several studios in town, some with specializations, and yoga is offered at most health clubs. When I recently read an article citing research that just 12 minutes a day of yoga poses could improve bone density, I wondered who, what and where? And more importantly — for any body?
As a yoga therapist, I often get referrals from people wanting to feel better, to relieve pain, improve breathing and lessen some of the wear and tear that has occurred either from a repetitive strain or injury.
Here are some of my responses:
Anything we concentrate on improves focus and awareness. When we focus on breathing, we begin to feel the places and spaces in our body that respond. Our ribs widen, we feel an ease in our low bellies, release tension and strain in our necks and shoulders and often our minds stop racing. These sensations are a big part of improved body awareness, and once found, they continue throughout other activities.
But how do our bones get denser and stronger with yoga? Muscles have one job, to contract and make something move because of a difference in length. Contraction of the muscle creates a pull on the tendons that connect with the boney structure of our skeletons, strengthening that connection. In standing yoga poses, our entire body exerts weight and counter weight. That’s powerful action. The image of someone upside down and the infamous downward dog pose weighing into arms may come to mind, but the poses needn’t be more than standing and lunging, reaching diagonally and twisting. Great benefits come from a class entirely done on the floor!
What if we could help ourselves avoid degenerative bone loss with some simple exercises done at home? You have heard the latest drugs being advertised on TV and the subsequent list of side effects. The list of side effects often seems longer than the intended beneficial effects. So let’s consider the “side effects” of a simple yoga practice – better balance, improved breathing and posture, greater range of motion and even decreased anxiety and depression. Another side effect of yoga may be greater bone density.
Unfortunately, your doctor may offer the latest prescription drug and your insurance may help you pay for it, but is that the best remedy? Buck the establishment. Surprise your doctor and show that you are alive and connected to your health with just a bit of self care. Connect breath with simple movements, and you can experience not only improved physical stamina but more. Yoga will connect you to a deep sense of nurturing joy and well being. Try it today!
Check out this New York Times article on yoga and bone density: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/21/12-minutes-of-yoga-for-stronger-bones/
Lisa Nelson Raabe is a yoga therapist in private practice in Peoria Heights. Contact her at Lisa@LisaNelsonRaabe.com or 309.472.6863.