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January 2016 - Yoga and Your Bones

Dear Yoga Friends,

Let's face it, people who do yoga still get sick, still get injured, and still need to see the doctor from time to time. But does yoga ward off any of this? Those of us who practice regularly feel intuitively that it does. I for one will not do the controlled experiment of abstaining from yoga for a few months to see what happens — some peculiar yoga version of Super Size Me. But the body of research that confirms yoga's benefits continues to grow.

A friend and mentor of mine who knows about bones called my attention to some research that validates yoga's benefits for bone mass and osteoporosis. It has been known for some time that because bone tissue is dynamic and responds to loads, weight-bearing exercise can help maintain bone mass as we age. Yoga has not historically been viewed as particularly effective in this regard. As it turns out, the way muscles work on bones in yoga poses does contribute to stronger, healthier bones. Check out this New York Times article for details of a recent study. Particularly amazing is that benefits were observed with only 12 minutes of yoga daily! The poses used for the study were basic Iyengar method standing and supine poses suitable for beginners.

Thinking some more about how we articulate actions in yoga, instructions like "press the center thigh bone straight back", or "draw the upper arm bones into the shoulder sockets", I suppose we shouldn't be too surprised. Those of us who practice yoga also develop awareness of the effects of these actions on our state of mind. Our bones must be connected to our mind and consciousness in some way. Just another one of those bone-headed yoga ideas I guess.




Chad Balch