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Yoga is a useful addition to your osteoporosis treatment plan. It can help to ease symptoms, improve bone health, and lower your risk of complications. Yoga may also increase bone density after menopause. 

Gentle yoga involving weight-bearing poses can build strength, ease pain, and encourage good posture. It also helps improve flexibility, stability, and agility. These benefits make daily movements easier, improve coordination, and reduce your risk of falling. 

Learn more about the benefits of yoga for osteoporosis, poses to do, and precautions to consider. 

1. High plank pose 

High plank pose strengthens your shoulders, glutes, and hamstrings. It also strengthens your back and core, which improves balance and posture. 

How to do high plank pose

  1. Start in tabletop position.
  2. Press heels back behind you as you lift hips and straighten knees.
  3. Elongate spine and activate arm, core, and leg muscles. 
  4. Draw shoulders back as you broaden across your chest. 
  5. Hold for up to 1 minute. 
  6. Repeat 1 to 3 times. 
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2. Downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana)

This classic posture helps to strengthen your arms, back, and legs. It encourages body alignment and promotes good posture. 

How to do downward-facing dog pose

  1. Begin in tabletop position with toes tucked under feet, heels raised. 
  2. Press into hands as you lengthen your spine and raise sitting bones toward the ceiling. 
  3. Elongate spine and maintain a slight bend in knees. 
  4. Position ears to be in line with upper arms, or move chin towards chest. 
  5. Hold for up to 1 minute. 
  6. Repeat 1 to 3 times. 
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3. Tree pose (vrksasana)

Tree pose strengthens your back, core, and leg muscles. It improves balance, posture, and stability. 

For support, rest your hands on a wall or the back of a chair. 

How to do tree pose

  1. Start standing on both feet.
  2. Now slowly raise right foot from the floor, placing the sole of your right foot on the inside of ankle, lower leg, or thigh. (Don’t press foot into knee.)
  3. Extend arms overhead or press palms together in front of chest. 
  4. Focus your gaze on the floor or a fixed point straight ahead. 
  5. Hold pose for up to 1 minute. 
  6. Repeat on the opposite side. 
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4. Warrior II (virabhadrasana II)

This pose strengthens your chest, shoulders, and legs. It provides a gentle stretch to your chest, hips, and thighs. 

How to do Warrior II pose

  1. From standing, step left foot back and turn toes out to the side at a slight angle. 
  2. Rotate left hip back so torso is facing towards the side. 
  3. With palms facing down, raise right arm forward and left arm back until they’re parallel to floor. 
  4. Slowly bend right knee until it’s directly above your ankle. 
  5. Don’t allow your knee to extend past your ankle. 
  6. Balance weight evenly between both feet and elongate your spine. 
  7. Broaden across your chest and reach out through your fingertips on both hands. 
  8. Focus your gaze on your front middle finger. 
  9. Hold pose for up to 1 minute. 
  10. Repeat on the opposite side. 
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Triangle pose (trikonasana)

Triangle pose strengthens and stretches your chest, core, and leg muscles. 

For support, do this pose with your back against a wall. 

How to do triangle pose

  1. Stand with feet slightly wider than your hips. 
  2. Turn right toes to face forward while you turn left toes in at a 45-degree angle. 
  3. With palms facing down, raise arms until they’re parallel to the floor. 
  4. Hinge at your right hip as you extend right hand forward. 
  5. Lower right hand to your shin, the floor, or a block. 
  6. Extend left arm up toward the ceiling with palm facing away from your body. 
  7. Gaze up toward the ceiling, straight ahead, or down at the floor. 
  8. Hold pose for up to 1 minute. 
  9. Repeat on opposite side.
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Precautions

It’s important to do weight-bearing yoga poses, but avoid postures that put stress, strain, or pressure on your bones. This can lead to bone fractures and falls.

Gently modify poses and be careful when doing poses targeting your spine, hips, and thighs. 

Avoid or do a gentle version of the following poses: 

  • forward bends
  • side bends
  • backbends
  • twists 
  • deep hip openers 
  • spinal flexion or extension
  • inversions (unless you already have a strong inversion practice) 
  • arm and hand balances 

Benefits of yoga for osteoporosis

Yoga can help to manage osteoporosis in several ways. It encourages muscle and bone strength, which has a positive effect on your balance, posture, and stability. Staying active can help to alleviate pain and reduce your risk of bone fractures. Plus, you can use your yoga practice to develop awareness so you’re more mindful of your movements.

The results of a small 2016 study indicate that yoga has a positive effect on bone mineral density in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. During the 6-month study, there were no reports of pain or discomfort, which indicates that yoga is a safe way to improve bone mineral density.

The yoga program also involved pranayama, or breathing exercises, which helps promote relaxation of the body and mind, alleviate anxiety, and reduce stress. Larger, in-depth studies are required to expand upon these findings. 

Another 2016 study found that practicing yoga for 12 minutes each day is a safe and effective way to reverse bone loss. The researchers selected 12 yoga poses for their ability to boost the bone mineral density of the spine, hips, and femur. While these results are promising, the study had several limitations. Further research is required. 

Yoga tips for osteoporosis

Certain types of yoga are more suitable for treating osteoporosis. Do gentle, low-impact types of yoga such as hatha, yin, or restorative. Avoid strenuous styles such as ashtanga, vinyasa, or power yoga. 

It’s best to do a small amount of yoga each day rather than a few longer sessions each week. Aim for at least 15 minutes of yoga each day. When time allows, do a longer session between 30 and 90 minutes. 

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Takeaway

Yoga is an excellent way to manage symptoms of osteoporosis. A solid routine can help to strengthen your muscles and bones, which helps lower your risk of injuries and falls.

Choose yoga poses that will develop strength without going beyond your limits. Listen to your body and modify poses as necessary. 

Talk to a doctor before starting a yoga program. They can advise you about the best postures to do and ones to avoid.