The ancient practice of yoga, which dates back more than 5,000 years, improves skeletal health through skillful selection and consistent application of a variety of exercises. Yoga poses for skeletal health are chosen for their ability to improve posture, increase flexibility and relieve skeletal system tensions. Yoga assists in maintaining bone density. It also helps minerals that are stored in the bones, as well as the blood cells produced in bone marrow, to be released to the bloodstream for the body’s use as needed.
The Importance of a Healthy Skeletal System
Human skeletons contain 206 bones. Joints connect the ends of some bones. Encapsulated synovial fluid provides lubrication to the adjoining bone ends to reduce friction. Ligaments and muscles attach to bones by making use of either attachment points or insertion points on the bones. A healthy skeletal system is the foundation for a healthy body. Yoga postures optimize the conditions necessary to improve or maintain skeletal health.
Treating Osteoporosis with Yoga
Loren M. Fishman, a medical doctor affiliated with the Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, led a pilot study to research the effectiveness of yoga in treating or preventing osteoporosis. The findings of this study were published in “Topics for Geriatric Rehabilitation” in 2009 and can be viewed here. Although the number of participants who completed the study were small, results were significant. Those in the study who faithfully performed the prescribed yoga routines showed noticeable improvement in the bone density of both spine and hip.
Yoga Helps Joints and Musculoskeletal Disorders
Because yoga increases the circulation of synovial fluid, it helps joints move more freely and reduces joint pain. In addition, yoga positions that require the use of a person’s muscles to push and pull on the skeleton stimulate local bone growth. Yoga also has proved useful in treating musculoskeletal disorders of the hand and wrist. Marian Garfinkel, with the Medical College of Pennsylvania, led studies in 1994 and 1998 that confirmed the effectiveness of yoga in lessening the effects of carpal tunnel syndrome and improving grip.
Align the Body and Improve Balance with Yoga and Props
Yoga poses align the body and improve balance. Because yoga allows the use of props, people with disabilities or physical ailments can perform poses that otherwise would be impossible. Yoga instructors familiar with the proper use of props are able to individualize the various routines to fit each person’s age and condition. Such individualization maximizes the benefits of yoga for the skeletal health of every participant.