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Does yoga build muscle/help with osteoporsis

new2yoga2010-07-04 15:16:27 +0000 #1
I am new to yoga as my name suggests, and did a class a few days ago, in which we repeated downward dog quit frequently. I have tight hamstrings, so the whole back of my leg feels tights, and my upper backand spine does as well. Is this a result of muscle building or is the soreness mostly from my lack of flexibility stretches. I love yoga (I've done videos before), but I have to work on bone building by lifting weights to help combat osteopenia (I'm pretty young though). Does yoga help build bones and a greater bone density in the spine and improve posture? Thanks!
Willem2010-07-04 15:29:18 +0000 #2
You may want to check the SYT (structural yoga therapy) papers on Mukunda Stiles' website. There are currently five papers on osteoporosis. : : Sharing: . Namasté.
cyclezen2010-07-04 15:55:39 +0000 #3

Originally Posted by Willem

You may want to check the SYT (structural yoga therapy) papers on Mukunda Stiles' website. There are currently five papers on osteoporosis. : : Sharing: . Namasté.

great URL, thanks a bunch for the link to some very interesting reading.

I'm gonna get some benefit outta that stuff since just 3 days ago I got to play 'shoulder separation', thanks to a young UCSB student who felt yakkin on the cell phone was much more important than payin attention to things on the road.

Anyway, back to the OP - having much less expertise in yoga than your average cat, I can still approach your question from a subjective and Kinesiological POV. Many of us Westerners suffer from flexibilty issues because of a more sedentary and less 'body' focused lifestyle. Muscle building takes quite some time (even if you're juicin) so the onset of soreness, as you describe it, is prolly best attributed to the increased use of your body and the flexibility issues you describe.

Muscle building, increasing flexibilty and building denser bone are all longterm, slow process things. A good thing. Soreness will slowly subside as your body adjusts to the new demands of yoga. Along the way muscle will become more supple and strong and joints should offer a broader range of motion.

Purely from a subjective view, I'm amazed at the additional great improvements I've experienced in core strength and broader flexibility overall.

Bone density can be hung on even broader considerations, not only 'weight bearing' loads (which yoga offers in the use of your own body weight) but also in the key componenet of of proper and adequate nutrition. Weight lifting alone won't build stronger bones without the raw materials to do that properly.

Downward dog is a very good indicator of flexibility issues of the lower back, sacrum, gluts and hamstring. Flexibility improvements show up quickly in how well one feels in downward dog.

If you can't do a yoga class 3 times a week, then doing independent work/practice with a good series of poses, will have a huge effect on the benefits one experiences from yoga.

Yoga and posture - a well thoughtout Yoga practice will do wonders for posture. A cornerstone of all the yoga classes/programs I;ve taken and take is a 'balanced' practice which usues the body symetrically and balances loads as one moves from one pose to the next. That all makes Yoga one of the most 'balanced' physical things one can do. In addition to flexibility the 'balanced' effort means balance in the body musculature, which means the best for posture.

Integration of mind and body aside; the benefits from a purely physical side, from yoga, can be incredible. Add in the benefits and work of your mind and mental state and the sum becomes much greater than the parts. Add 1 part of phsycial asana with 1 part of mental integration and focus and you get 3 parts, maybe even 4 or 5, of a better, stronger, clearer overall 'you'.

Given the added insight of a perceptive teacher/instructor, I truly believe there isn't a human on the planet who wouldn't benefit greatly from a well adapted Yoga practice.

I will add - almost all of the Yoga instructors I've had contact with are a special breed. Incredibly focused on helping their students adapt Yoga in the best way to themselves. Understanding and patient. most are fine examples of what we'd all think the best 'teachers' of anything, should be. I would recommend anyone find and use what Yoga instructors offer. It will make a huge difference in your appreciation and realization of your own yoga practice.

...just my POV...

InnerAthlete2010-07-04 15:35:02 +0000 #4
Hey New,

it is weight-bearing that builds bone density. For most people that is not as much an issue with the lower extremities as it is the upper. So from that you could see how many different postures (asanas) would involve weight-bearing by the arms.

You also ask about "tight" muscles. I am not sure whether you are specifically asking if your recent Down Dog repetitions are creating this feeling or if you are already coming to the mat with this sense. Muscles are somewhat complicated and so I could give you a clear answer if you would kindly refine the question(s).
new2yoga2010-07-04 16:50:22 +0000 #5

Inner athlete, what I meant about the tight muscles is that when I completed yoga, my muscles felt sore (in a good way). However, I am not flexible (can't touch my toes) so is that soreness more likely from stretching rather than the soreness you would feel when you white lift and build muscle/bone? Thanks!
new2yoga2010-07-04 17:22:54 +0000 #6
Inner athlete random question, but in looking at old threads, you provide really good detailed answers. How do you know so much about yoga and correct position (you seem to understand the science of the body as well, correct positioning, etc). I'm sure you have practiced for awhile as well. Thanks!
InnerAthlete2010-07-04 17:38:21 +0000 #7
Thank you for the kind words.

I am a certified Purna Yoga teacher at the 2,000 hour level and am blessed to have chosen a teacher who has 40+ years of yoga in his consciousness and is both meticulous and focused in his teaching of teachers.

I find that discussing anatomy for yoga needs to fall into an "applied" context. Otherwise it is far too easy to discuss it ad nauseum and make things more confusing and murky rather than clear and accessible.

Generally speaking, lifting weights is shortening and tightening the muscles (it is not always so and depends on the hows of one's weight training). Yoga (asana), on the other hand, is primarily about contracting muscles in a lengthened state. I would imagine that physiologically there is a similar set of chemistry in the body for these two things. Again, getting into the nuances of muscle contraction and micro tears and so forth would not be particularly productive for yoga purposes.
concoulor32010-07-04 16:08:14 +0000 #8
From what I remember being taught in my Kinesiology classes. Osteoprosis is a bit like pac-man (free radicals and whatnot) eating at your bones, and when we are younger our calcium uptake abilities act like the "ghost" and kill pac-man, however, as we age, we have fewer and fewer ghosts acting on our behalf, so the next best thing is electricity! When we do weight bearing exercises this force-full action against our bones creates an electrical current, which effectively "zaps" pac-man...while I have not read studies, it would seem logical that the stretching and re-aligning of our muscle fibers through yoga (which acts as a pull against our bones) should help block deterioration. I could be convinced that gentle yoga is not as beneficial as power yoga against bone loss - not to stir the pot on the other benefits of gentle yoga.
Hamsa2010-07-04 18:25:12 +0000 #9
Namaste "New2Yoga"

Hamsa here, in Teaneck, NJ.

My paper on osteopenia and osteoporosis is available on the SYT website (graduate papers); there are lots of suggestions in the paper for you to explore in addressing your osteopenia.

The short answer to your query is that yes, weight-bearing exercise as we do in yoga when we bear our own body weight, or through other means, certainly can help build muscles/increase muscular strenth, and is highly recommended for people wishing to counter bone loss ... though it must be done with proper form (alignment) so that you do not get injured. I teach two classes at my yoga center where I teach some of the Structural Yoga poses using light weights and flex bands (Therabands) to increase weight-bearing and resistance, and over the past 2-3 years, a number of students have seen their bone loss stop, or even reverse somewhat.

You mention Power Yoga. If you are referring to astanga-style classes, or vinyasa classes where jump-backs are taught, these are generally not recommended for people with osteoporosis. With osteopenia, it depends on the degree, where your test showed the osteopenia, and how well you are able to control the "core" muscles (abdominals, glutes, back).

So ... I would love to know more details about you: age, history, any hx of fractures in the past, and what exactly did the bone density test show.

I would be happy to speak with you on the phone in more detail, if you wish.



Charlotte Chandler Stone, CYT, E-RYT500
renie2010-07-04 16:17:22 +0000 #10
Hi, I've read prior threads on this topic and they confirm what my instructor told me. He was an avid lifter for most of his life and quit 10 years ago, b/c he felt yoga and weight lifting contradicted one another - as he said yoga stretches and lengthens, and lifting tightens and shortens the muscles. I was told that I had the bones of a 35 year old, until I had the "real" bone mass test and learned I have osteopenia.

I am over 50, and play tennis in from April to November about 3 hours a week, walk fast (ex-runner for 30 years) 5 days a week for an hour each time, spin 2x a week, and swim 10 miles a week. Yet I have osteopenia! I took up yoga because I am very tight despite daily stretching, and became hooked almost immediately on Power Yoga. So, my question is this: if I eliminate the 2 hours of lifting I do each week, will I become more susceptible to osteoporosis? Some of these yoga balancing poses are very difficult, requiring a great deal of arm/leg strength, and I'm very excited to see my arm and leg strength increasing after just 2 months of yoga. However, I'm not so sure it can replace weights for osteoporosis/osteopenia.

Thanks for any input!
Hubert2010-07-04 20:09:03 +0000 #11
Osteopenia (or porosis) can;t be prevented by physical exercise alone. The physical stimuli makes the bone "want" to build itself, but if it lacks calcium, it can't do it. Lack of calcium is a side effect of a high animal protein diet. (with unbalanced phosphor-calcium ratio). The extra phosphor is eliminated as calcium-phosphate, taking the calcium for this process from where it can. Phosphor is hundredfolds more present in animal proteins, so it needs similar amounts of calcium. Dairy is inefficient as a calcium supplier for this very reason, as it also contains loads of phosphor in it's proteins. Calcium supplements often do not assimilate well. Best way is adopting a diet low on animal proteins (meat, milk, eggs), and with loads of green leafs.



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