4 Bone-Building Yoga Poses

Senior woman performing yoga's Warrior 2 Pose at home.

As we age, it’s normal to lose some bone mass. But losing an excessive amount can lead to fractures of the hip and spine, loss of height, rounding of the upper back and limited mobility. Unfortunately, bone loss comes without warning signs or symptoms. That is why osteoporosis is often referred to as the “silent disease.” If you’ve been diagnosed with osteoporosis or osteopenia, you know that doctors recommend weight-bearing exercises as part of the treatment. Fortunately, there are several ideal bone-building yoga poses you can practice.

How to Practice Bone-Building Yoga Poses

  • For safety, use a wall or the back of an inward-swinging door to support both balance and good posture.
  • For the greatest bone building, move in and out of each pose several times before holding for 20 to 30 seconds (or roughly four to six breaths).
  • If this isn’t possible, stay in each pose for as long as you are able, and gradually increase the time as you gain strength.
  • Consistency is important, so aim to practice these four poses at least four to five times a week.

Bone-Building Yoga Poses

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) 

  1. Tree Pose or Vrksasana shown with arm variation.Tree Pose or Vrksasana Pose with the wall for support.Begin by standing with your back to a wall, heels 1 to 2 inches away, in Mountain Pose (Tadasana).
  2. Shift your weight into your right leg, taking care not to allow your right hip to shift out to the right. Bend your left knee and rotate it out to the left. Place your left heel on your right ankle, toes on the floor (like a kickstand on a bicycle), or on your right calf.
  3. Reach both arms up to the ceiling. Alternatively, bend your elbows into Cactus Pose if your shoulders feel tight.
  4. Stay for 4 to 6 deep, slow breaths, lengthening your spine and lifting your ribcage out of your waist on each inhalation.
  5. Then, lower your arms to your sides and slowly release your left foot to the floor. Repeat on the left.

Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)

  1. Warrior 2 Pose or Virabhadrasana 2 Pose, a strengthening pose.With your back still to the wall, step your feet wide.
  2. Turn your right foot so it is parallel to the wall and your left foot in a few degrees. Keeping your left leg straight, bend your right knee, making sure it tracks toward the second toe of your right foot and stacks over your ankle. If your knee goes past your ankle, lengthen your stance.
  3. Lift your arms out to the sides until they’re level with your shoulders, palms facing down (or forward for those with less shoulder mobility). Exhale, lowering the arms and straightening the knee.
  4. Move in and out of the pose for 3 to 5 reps. Then stay with the knee bent and arms extended for 4 to 6 breaths. As you hold the pose, focus on lengthening the spine on each inhalation and allowing your weight to sink into your legs as you exhale.
  5. To come out of the pose, lower the arms, straighten your right knee and turn your feet forward. Pivot to the left and repeat.

Chair Pose (Utkatasana) 

  1. Chair Pose or Utkatasana shown with arms forward variation.Chair Pose or Utkatasana Pose, a bone strengthening pose.Stand in Mountain Pose with your back touching the wall and heels 1 to 2 inches away. Lengthen upward through the crown of the head.
  2. Then begin to walk your feet forward, bending your knees as your back slides down the wall into a seated position. Aim to bring your knees to a 90-degree angle or as close as you are able.
  3. Hold this position, pressing your spine and the back of your head into the wall, arms at your sides. Stay for 4 to 6 breaths.
  4. Then bringing your palms to the wall, slowly walk your feet back toward the wall, sliding your spine upward until you return to a standing position.
  5. For an added challenge, practice the pose without using the wall, lifting your arms to chest height or overhead. You can move dynamically in and out of the pose for a few reps before staying for 4 to 6 breaths.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) 

  1. Triangle Pose or Trikonasana Pose one of yoga's most popular standing poses.Again with your back to the wall, step your feet wide, turning right toes parallel to the wall and your left foot inward a few degrees.
  2. Extend both arms straight out to the side from the shoulders.
  3. Keeping both legs straight, shift your hips toward your left foot as you reach your right arm forward. Imagine you are reaching across a countertop as you continue to lengthen both sides of your torso. Lower your right hand to rest on your thigh or calf and reach your left arm up toward the ceiling. The back of the left hand may come to the wall, but don’t force it.
  4. Rotate the right ribs up and away from the floor using your abdominal muscles. Direct your gaze either straight ahead or towards the ceiling.
  5. Continue to reach your left arm toward the ceiling as you hold the pose for 4 to 6 breaths before rising up to center.
  6. Turn your feet parallel, then repeat on the opposite side.

Don’t Forget to Relax after Practicing Bone-Building Yoga Poses

When you finish practicing the bone-building yoga poses, reward yourself with a few minutes of relaxation. You can either lie on the floor or sit in a chair. Close your eyes and take 5 to 10 deep, relaxing breaths. Relax, knowing that these bone-building yoga poses are making you stronger every day.

Reprinted with permission from WisdomTreeYoga.com
Beverly Davis Baird

Beverly Davis-Baird, MA, e-RYT200/RYT 500, C-IAYT is a New Jersey-based yoga therapist, writer, and educator. She specializes in making yoga accessible for adults 50+, offering classes and workshops for back care, arthritis, bone health, balance, posture, and healthy aging. An educator at heart with over 20 years of experience as a public school teacher, Beverly brings her knowledge of individual learning styles to her classes, providing instruction that is clear, concise, inclusive, and compassionate. Bringing over 30 years of experience and training, she considers herself a lifelong learner and believes that the practice of yoga should bring spaciousness and release from tension, not create it. As such, she strives to make yoga accessible to people of differing abilities, believing the real benefits of yoga come from what is taken with you outside of class and into your life. To read her blog or learn more about her teaching schedule and latest offerings, please visit www.wisdomtreeyoga.com.

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