Yoga for Osetoporosis

Benefits of Yoga for Osteoporosis

Benefits of Yoga for Osteoporosis

Yoga is a spiritual practice that exercises the mind and body. It involves deep breathing techniques, concentration, and movement. Through the practice of yoga, flexibility, mobility, and balance improve. Yoga also has the potential to increase strength, reduce inflammation, and improve bone health. For these reasons, yoga is beneficial for the management and treatment of osteoporosis. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of yoga on osteoporosis!

What is Osteoporosis?

Our skeletal system is in a constant state of building and tearing down bone. As we age, we see increases in the loss of bone density and fraility. Osteoporosis is the loss of bone mass, strength, and density. Sometimes referred to as “age-related bone loss”, osteoporosis can lead to an increased risk of falls and fractures in older adults. Fractures can be very painful experiences that can affect bodily function, mobility, and quality of life. For adults older than 50 years, approximately 50% of women and 25% of men will have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. Risk factors for bone loss include age, bone structure, genetics, gender (females have a higher risk), inadequate diet/ nutrient intake, vitamin D and calcium deficiency.

Proper nutrition can help prevent and treat osteoporosis by providing the nutrients needed for bone repair. By focusing on consuming key nutrients for bone health, we can reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis. Important nutrients for bone health include calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, vitamin K, magnesium, and fluoride. Other nutrients such as iron, copper, zinc, B vitamins, protein, and essential fatty acids are also important for bone health.

Making changes to other lifestyle factors such as mainting a healthy body weight, avoiding tobacco, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption can also decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis. To decrease the risk of osteoporosis, diet intake should emphasize more whole grains, vegetables, fruit, high-quality protein, nuts, legumes, and low-fat dairy products. Consuming less processed foods, sugar-sweetened beverages, refined grains, and processed meats are also fundamental in protecting bone health.

Vitamin D and Calcium for Bone Health

calcium and vitamin D and osteoporosis

Vitamin D and calcium play an especially important role in bone health. Intake of calcium tends to decline with age, due to decreased caloric intake and higher rates of lactose intolerance. Vitamin D levels also decrease as we age due to less sun exposure, causing a decrease in the synthesis of vitamin D in the skin and leads to a reduced absorption rate of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps in maintaining blood calcium concentration levels by stimulating absorption of calcium in the gut and reabsorption of calcium in the kidneys. The majority of the body’s calcium stores are located in the bones and teeth.

A diet deficient in calcium causes the release of parathyroid hormone (PTH), which stimulates bone turnover and pulls calcium from the bones to make up for this deficiency. As PTH activates the pulling of calcium from the bones, rapid bone loss occurs, leaving the bones fragile and weak. Studies show that by consuming enough calcium the incidence, the incedence of age-related bone loss decreases. This improves bone mineral density and leads to lower rates of fractures. To promote bone health in older adults, recommendations state to consume 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium a day and 800-1,000 IUs of vitamin D daily to decrease the risk of osteoporosis.


Menopause is the most common cause of osteoporosis. This is because women experience accelerated bone loss after menopause. The hormonal changes that occur during menopause affect estrogen levels within the body. Estrogen plays a vital role in bone health by decreasing bone turnover rate. When estrogen levels drop during menopause, bones get broken down more quickly than they are built, resulting in bone loss . Vitamin D deficiency is also very common in post-menopausal women. Studies show that 75% of postmenopausal women have insufficient vitamin D levels, leading to an increased risk of developing osteoporosis. To reduce this risk, post-menopausal women should consume about 1,200 mg of calcium a day.

Calcium-rich foods

Consuming foods rich in calcium can help meet these dietary recommendations. Consuming dairy products, like milk, cheese, and yogurt, is one of the easiest ways to incorporate more calcium into your diet. Non-dairy sources of calcium include: dark green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli, fish with edible soft bones like canned sardines and salmon. Other foods rich in calcium include seeds, lentils, almonds, edamame, and tofu. Many foods are also fortified with calcium such as fruit juices, cereal, and plant-based sources of milk. Here are examples of the calcium amounts found within these foods:

  • 1 cup of cooked spinach = 245 mg
  • 1 cup of cooked kale= 177 mg
  • 1 cup of cooked broccoli = 62 mg
  • 1 whole orange = 55 mg
  • 1/4 cup of almomds = 92 mg
  • 8 oz of plain greek yogurt = 261 mg
  • 1 oz of cheddar cheese = 200 mg

Foods rich in Vitamin D

Low levels of vitamin D can also contribute to the onset of osteoporosis. Along with calcium, vitamin D is another nutritent that promotes bone health. Our skin produces vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. However, as we age, we are more likely to become vitamin D deficient due to decreases in sunlight exposure and inadequate dietary intake. By consuming the following foods, you can meet the daily recommended requirements for vitamin D. Foods rich in vitamin D include:

  • Salmon (1 fillet = 28.4 ug)
  • Mushrooms (1 cup = 27.8 ug)
  • Milk (1 cup = 6.3 ug)
  • Fortified milk substitutes- Soy Milk (16 oz = 5.8 ug)
  • Fortified Tofu (1 cup = 5.7 ug)
  • Orange juice ( 1 cup = 2.5 ug)
  • Eggs (1 large egg = 1.1 ug)

Is exercising safe for Osteoporosis?

Regularly participating in physical activity can help reduce bone loss in someone with osteoporosis. When combined with nutrition, physical activity can help strengthen bones. Although, physical activity is encouraged for people that have osteoporosis, it should still be approached with caution. Certain high-impact exercises should be avoided that include jumping or dynamic movements, which may be rough on the joints.

Benefits of Yoga for Osteoporosis:

Light-weight bearing activities that work against gravity are beneficial in stimulating bone formation. Through the gentle and intentional movements done in yoga, bones and joints become stronger, more aligned, and lubricated. A study evaluating the beneficial effects of a daily 12-minute yoga regimen on bone loss resulted in the reversal of bone loss in patients with osteoporosis. Results also included improvement in bone mineral density within the spine, hips, and femurs. Yoga can also help loosen stiffness felt in muscles and slow down muscle loss as we age.

Another benefit of yoga for osteoporosis is that it decreases the risk of falls and fractures by improving balance. According to the CDC, one out of five falls is responsible for causing a serious head injury or broken bones. Aside from improving balance, yoga also improves core strength and stability. As we age and become more susceptible to developing diseases like osteoporosis, gravity begins to affect our bodies, internally and externally. It can cause changes to the alignment of our bones and muscles, which can lead to compression of the spine, organs, and affect body system functions. Practicing yoga can help alleviate this by emphasizing stretching, decompression, and breathing techniques that increase lung capacity, and intentionally realigning the body. Yoga can help improve mobility which can be especially beneficial for athletes as well. Read more about the benefits of yoga for athletes here.

Yoga Poses: 

Try the following yoga poses to aid in the treatment of osteoporosis:

High-plank pose

Yoga for osteoporosis- high- plank pose

Begin on your hands and knees, aligning your shoulders over your wrists and pressing your hands into the floor. Extend one leg back, tucking your toes in, then extend your other leg back. Focus on keeping your back straight and tighten your core muscles by drawing them in towards your spine.


Yoga for osteoporosis-  tree pose

Stand up straight and shift your weight onto your right foot while lifting your left foot off the floor. Keeping your right leg straight, bend your left knee and press the sole of your left foot onto your inner right thigh or on the side of your calf, avoiding the knee area. Spread your arms out horizontally to help with balance and hold this pose for a couple breaths. Then repeat on the opposite side.

Down-ward facing dog

Yoga for osteoporosis- downward facing dog

Begin on your hands and knees, aligning your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Spread your fingers and press your hands into the ground. Push back through your hands to lift your hips up in the air while keeping a slight bend in your knees.

Warrior II pose

Yoga for osteoporosis- warrior II pose

Stand up straight then spread your feet out wide so they are parallel to each other. Extend your arms out to your sides, keeping them straight. Turn your left foot away from you at a 45-90 degree angle and bend your left knee into a lunge position. Keep your opposite leg straight and turn your head to the left, gazing over your hand. Repeat for the opposite side.

Triangle pose

Yoga for osteoporosis- triangle pose

Stand straight then spread your feet out wide. Turn your left foot out then spread and your arms out into a “T” shape and slightly bend your left knee. Turn your head to the left and straighten out your left leg. Gaze over your left hand as you bring it down towards your left foot, hinging your hips back. As your left hand is coming down, your right hand should be going up towards the ceiling. Gaze toward your right hand as you point your fingertips towards the ceiling.


Osteoporosis and age-related disease is characterized by the loss of bone strength and mineral density. Women have an increased risk of developing osteoporosis due to hormonal changes that occur after menopause. Focusing on consuming a diet rich in calcium and vitmain D, can help prevent and treat osteoporosis. Physical activity is also used in the treatment and prevention of osteoporosis. Light-weight bearing activities are recommended, such as participating in yoga for osteoporosis. Yoga is a great treatment method because it improves bone strength, balance, core strength, and promotes relaxation.

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