Are you over the age of 50? If so, you have a 43 percent chance of having low bone density.
Given all your other worries, priorities and goals in life, that might seem like a fact you’re too busy to deal with right now.
My advice to you is to read on.
After helping my 84 year old mother recover from wrist surgery, I promise you, it’s never too early to start taking care of your bones.
So many of us come up with endless reasons not to exercise.
You may have convinced yourself that working out is just about weight control, and, at your age, you’ve come to accept the way you look, so why bother, who needs ripped abs anyway?
My advice to you: choose your hard.
It’s easy to avoid the facts and very painful to break your bones.
It’s challenging to develop the self discipline to exercise regularly but a consistent yoga practice blesses you with ease and grace as you age.
When my 84 year old osteoporotic mother fell and broke her wrist a few weeks ago, I saw first hand what I’ve been telling my yoga students for years.
An estimated one in three women worldwide who are older than age 50 will experience a fracture related to osteoporosis. This number decreases for men, with an estimated one in five in the same age group experiencing an osteoporosis-related fracture.
In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates 48 million people – about 43 percent of men and women age 50 and above – have either osteopenia or osteoporosis.
You have osteoporosis if your bone density test T score shows 2.5 or higher.
You have osteopenia if your T score is between 1 and 2.5.
Many people diagnosed with osteopenia or osteoporosis believe their only healing solution is to take medication.
Side effects for all the bisphosphonates (alendronate, ibandronate, risedronate and zoledronic acid) may include bone, joint or muscle pain. Side effects of the oral tablets may include nausea, difficulty swallowing, heartburn, irritation of the esophagus (tube connecting the throat to the stomach) and gastric ulcer.
Dr. Fishman says even if you take the medications, you must take calcium supplements to give your body the raw materials to build bone.
In addition, Dr. Fishman says, the osteoporosis medications can only be taken for a limited number of years, after which the body begins to lose bone again and the process of deterioration accelerates.
Fortunately, there is an easy, drug-free natural healing remedy for this epidemic of weak bones: yoga for osteoporosis.
Years ago, I heard about the scientific research of Dr. Loren Fishman, M.D., author of Yoga for Osteoporosis: the Complete Guide and completely changed the way I teach yoga.
You have to hold a yoga pose between 12 and 72 seconds to stimulate bone growth.
Although super cool young people flock to power yoga classes, I’ve found from personal experience attending these kinds of classes they aren’t holding the poses long enough to change their bones and often paying so little attention to their form they are at high risk of injury.
What if you could practice yoga in a way that helps you feel great, lower depression and anxiety, improve your balance, look ageless, correct injuries and strengthen your bones?
Just recently I had the great privilege of getting certified as a yoga for osteoporosis teacher by studying with Dr. Loren Fishman himself.
It’s quite something to study with a world-leading expert on any subject.
When that teacher is 80 years old going on 81, wow. Just wow!
Dr. Fishman teaching a pose to Catherine Carrigan
Dr. Fishman may be one of the best yoga teachers I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from.
Loren Fishman, MD is the medical director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City, the author of eight books, and the author or editor of more than 70 academic articles.
After teaching yoga for 26 years and completing six 200-hour teacher trainings, one 500-hour teacher training and years of study of yoga therapy, I can attest I’ve studied with some of the top teachers of our generation.
At age 62, I still teach eight yoga classes every week – four on Zoom and four to a private club here in Atlanta as well as private one-on-one yoga lessons.
I often refer to my yoga teaching as my mental health program. Practicing and teaching, I feel happy, healthy and ready for anything.
Although teaching yoga is not the primary way I earn a living, I hope for my sake that at age of 80 I’m still going strong like Dr. Fishman.
“The happiest I ever am,” Dr. Fishman said at his recent workshop, “is when I’m either teaching or practicing yoga.”
Strong bones, check.
Super happy, check.
Sage advice if you will follow it – no drugs required – just regular practice working as deeply and thoroughly into your body as you can.
“One day,” I like to joke with my yoga students, “you will be happy you had a mean yoga teacher.”
So let’s bring this story back to my 84 year old mother.
I was getting ready to teach my Thursday evening yoga class when I got a call from my brother.
“Mom’s fallen off a bar stool,” he joked with me.
The truth is our mother was walking to her local needlepoint shop when she tripped and fell in the parking lot.
She bruised her hip, banged her head so hard she got a black eye and bruised the entire left side of her face.
Worst of all, she broke her wrist in three places and had to have surgery.
According to Dr. Fishman, if you have osteoporosis or osteopenia, you have an increased risk of breaking not just your wrist but also your hip bones and the vertebrae in your spine.
Those with osteoporosis who fail to correct their posture are also at risk for having a compression fracture which happens most commonly when your vertebrae literally collapse due to the weakening of your bones.
So what can you do about this now to stay strong and prevent injuries?
Through years of study, Dr. Fishman recommends you practice these 12 postures in any order at least four times a week, holding each pose ideally 30 seconds each side.
Here’s the list along with links to old Youtube videos I’ve perviously recorded showing me demonstrating various versions of these poses.
Keep in mind the variations I demonstrate here may not be ideal for your body but there will be a variation you can do – just set up an appointment and I can personalize the practice for your body.
I hope to record new videos of these poses explaining particular details that Dr. Fishman emphasizes to strengthen your bones.
- Tree pose (Vriksasana)
- Triangle (Utthita Trikonasana)
- Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana II)
- Side angle pose (Parsvakonasana)
- Twisting triangle (Parivrtta Trikonasana)
- Locust (Salabhasana)
- Bridge (Setu Bandhasana)
- Hamstring stretch (Supta Padangusthasana I)
- Adductor stretch (Supta Padangusthasana II)
- Seated twist (Marichyasana III)
- Half lord of the fishes pose (Ardha Matsyendrasana I)
- Relaxation (Savasana)
If you have been practicing yoga already, good for you!
Dr. Fishman says “Yoga works as well or better than the medicines, and has additional ways in which it is greatly more beneficial for you:
Creates better balance
Makes you stronger
Increases your range of motion
Offers opportunity for spiritual and ethical improvement.”
Yoga works as one of the greatest natural healing remedies to correct osteopenia and osteoporosis because it places sustained pressure on your bones.
But Dr. Fishman’s research also shows that practicing yoga alone is not enough to change your bones – you have to hold the poses at least 12 seconds for the synthesis of proteins to occur to build bone and the longer and more effort you put in, the better.
At least 12 seconds up to 72 seconds – that’s how long you have to hold your poses, not just a breath or two.
Interestingly, you don’t have to do a perfect pose or even an advanced version of the asanas to change your bones.
During our workshop, we practiced beginner poses all the way up to the most advanced asanas.
It’s actually the amount of effort you put in, working deep in the body, giving at least 25 to 75 to 100 percent effort.
In energy medicine, your bones correspond to your root chakra.
Strengthening your bones is one of the most powerful ways to ground your energy and access your inner power.
As you practice this way, you may notice yourself feeling psychologically more confident with a fearless approach to life.
You feel strong inside and out because you actually are that way!
What is healing? Healing happens when you practice yoga for osteoporosis.
If you would like to learn more about how you can build your bones with yoga, set up an appointment with me or join my yoga classes, email email@example.com or call 678-612-8816.
My Zoom yoga classes meet:
Tuesdays and Thursdays 7:30 to 9 p.m. EST
Thursdays 11 am to 12:30 p.m. EST
Saturdays 10:30 to 12 noon EST