Increased Bone Density
A recent study, conducted by Professor Steven A. Hawkins and faculty yoga teacher Bee Beckman of the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at California State University, worked with eighteen women from eighteen to sixty-five years of age who had no former yoga experience. Half of the group participated in two yoga classes a week and also practiced by themselves three times a week. Some of the required poses practiced were triangle, half moon, extended side angle, and warriors I and II. The women in the control group had to continue their normal level of activity throughout the study.
Bone density scans were done at the beginning of the study and then six months later. After six months, in the yoga group, bone density of the spine increased significantly, while those in the control group had no change in their bone density levels. More studies with larger population groups are needed to get a clearer picture, but it is evident that weight-bearing yoga postures (arm balances, inversions, and standing poses) maintain bone density, increase bone density, and help prevent osteoporosis and fragile bones.
Stress, not surprisingly, adversely affects bone density. Overdoing aerobic activity leads to decreased body fat and increases the likelihood of osteoporosis. Living a stressful lifestyle full of adrenaline rushes depletes calcium and imbalances hormonal activity. A consistent yoga practice, which includes weight-bearing and restorative postures, relaxation, and meditation helps lessen the effects of stress and restores balance.