What’s This Research About?

How does yoga affect bone mineral density? We might assume because we are using body weight in yoga poses that it increases bone mineral density. Can we recommend yoga to people with osteoporosis and or osteopenia? Based on a common sense assumption that yoga poses use bodyweight and therefore increases BMD? No. An assumption, no matter how logical, isn’t reliable. We need to test that
assumption with research and data. It’s the right and credible thing to do.

Why does this matter for yoga teachers? Because the number of people affected by osteoporosis is large and is expected to grow. It’s likely that we will work with people who have or will have osteoporosis. Having safe options to counter loss of bone mass is vital for helping those populations. This study asks, can yoga help them and is it a safe and affordable alternative?

TITLE: Twelve-Minute Daily Yoga Regimen Reverses Osteoporotic Bone Loss


PUBLICATION: Topics in Geriatric Rehabilitation

DATE: November 2015

AUTHORS : Yi-Hsueh Lu, Bernard Rosner, Gregory Chang, and Dr. Loren M. Fishman

Bone Mineral Density (BMD): a measurement of mineral density of bones.

Osteoporosis: a condition of decreased bone mass with a bone mineral density T-score that ranges from -1.0 to -2.5. This leads to fragile bones which are more at risk for fractures.

Osteopenia: precursor to bone loss with lower BMD than normal but not less than an osteoporosis diagnosis. Both osteopenia and osteoporosis affect 200 million people worldwide.

Overload principle: the amount of load or resistance, providing a greater stress, or load, on the body than it is normally accustomed to in order to create a desired outcome such as increased strength or bone density. Progression is the way in which an individual should increase the load.

Wolff’s Law: established in the 1890s by German anatomist Julius Wolff, bone grows and remodels in response to the forces that are placed upon it. After injury to bone, placing specific stress in specific directions to the bone can help it remodel and become normal healthy bone again. If gradually increase load on a particular bone over time, the bone will remodel itself over time to become stronger to resist that sort of loading.

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