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The Ultimate Guide to Yoga for Osteoporosis (+ 3 Free Classes!)

Table of Contents

Why Yoga is the Ideal Exercise for Older Adults | Dr. Fishman’s Research on Yoga and Osteoporosis | Before You Start: Yoga Foundations | The Fishman Method: 12 Yoga Poses for Stronger Bones (With Videos!) | 12 Yoga Poses: Free Printable PDF | Yoga for Osteoporosis Takeaways


If you’ve broken a bone or you have low bone density, you may not think yoga is for you… well, think again! 

Yoga does three things to your body no other exercise does — and that makes it the perfect exercise for low bone density. (More on this in a moment!) 

In fact, leading yoga for osteoporosis expert, Dr. Loren Fishman, has spent years perfecting a method to safely improve bone health through yoga. It’s a method he’s put to the test in two exciting clinical studies. Both of which showed that you can get great results by practicing 12 simple yoga poses a day… 

And now, you can try these 12 yoga poses from the comfort of your own home! Yes, I’ve put together three new videos demonstrating all 12 poses. Each video showcases a different variation of the pose, so folks of all physical ability can benefit.

But first, let’s take a look at how yoga can help you stay strong, flexible, and pain-free…

To skip right to the yoga videos, click here!


Why Yoga is the Ideal Form of Exercise for Older Adults

When you apply force to bones, it stimulates them to grow stronger — a premise known as Wolff’s law. 

Wolff’s law states that, “bone is formed and strengthens along lines of mechanical stress.” It also describes how the greater the forces applied to a bone, the greater the bone-building at the point of stress. (Bear these two points in mind, as we delve into the unique benefits of yoga.) 

So it’s clear why experts recommend high-impact, weight-bearing exercise to stave off bone loss. Simple enough, right? Unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that. You need to consider your joints, and the length of time you’re activating your muscles for too… 

I recently had the pleasure of discussing this topic with Dr. Fishman himself when I traveled to Portland for his Yoga vs. Osteoporosis training! Click on the video below to hear his take on the benefits of yoga for your joints, and how long to hold a yoga pose for:

So high-impact exercise can do more harm than good by aggravating your joints and causing inflammation. But yoga provides a solution.

According to Dr. Fishman, yoga’s gentle, low-impact movements are ideal for those with osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. These movements help distribute synovial fluid, which lubricates the joints and keeps them moving smoothly. (Synovial fluid is a thick liquid found in all your joints.) 

And in terms of your bone health, there are three main reasons yoga is an excellent choice… (Yes, the length of time you hold poses for is one!)


Dr. Fishman’s Research on Yoga and Osteoporosis

For years, Dr. Loren Fishman has been fascinated by yoga’s potential to improve bone health… 

So in 2005, he decided to test his theory by running a pilot study. (A pilot study is a small-scale study to see whether a theory has merit.) And that pilot study led to a large-scale study published in 2016. 

I asked Dr. Fishman about his studies when we met in Portland. Click on the studies below to see his explanation of each:

Dr. Loren Fishman is an Assistant Clinical Professor at Columbia University, and the Medical Director of Manhattan Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in New York City. Dr. Fishman pioneered the use of yoga in medicine and has written several books on the topic, including Yoga for Osteoporosis and Yoga for Osteoarthritis.


Before You Start: Yoga Foundations

If you’re new to yoga, it’s a good idea to check in with your medical professional before getting started to make sure it’s suitable for you. I also recommend following along with a qualified instructor to start. That way, you can learn the basics of a safe practice.

For example, I studied how to teach yoga for osteoporosis with Dr. Fishman. (More on this in a moment!) So my videos are a good place to start.

But to give you a quick introduction, here are the basic principles of yoga:


The Fishman Method: 12 Yoga Poses for Stronger Bones

From years of research and experience in the field, Dr. Fishman developed a method for improving bone health through yoga. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of learning this method directly from Dr. Fishman! I completed his Yoga vs. Osteoporosis training this past November. I’m also a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) and one of AlgaeCal’s Community Managers. All this to say, I’m well-versed in the intricacies of bone health and the importance of a safe practice. 

So today, I’ll be demonstrating 12 yoga poses for osteoporosis. These are the same poses practiced in both Dr. Fishman’s studies — where participants improved their bone health.

Watch the full yoga regimen by clicking on the video below! You’ll see there are three videos with different variations of the poses:

1: “Osteoporosis Variation” – This class provides the easiest variation of the poses. It’s the orange thumbnail below.

2. “Osteopenia Variation” – This class provides intermediate variations of the poses. It’s the dark green thumbnail below.

3. “Prevention Variation” – This class provides the more challenging variations of the poses. It’s the light green thumbnail below.

You can click on the thumbnail of each video to skip between them. (Note you’ll also find detailed written instructions for each pose next!)


12 Yoga Poses: Step-by-Step Instructions and Tips

Now, there are three variations for most of these yoga poses: Osteoporosis, osteopenia, and prevention. Prevention is the regular version of the pose, commonly performed by those with normal bone density. But don’t take these labels as law!  

In other words, just because you have osteoporosis, doesn’t mean you should do the osteoporosis version, and so on. I say this because the more challenging the pose, the more you stand to gain from it. So if you can do the osteopenia version, or even, the prevention version, go for it! 

That said, it may be a good idea to work your way up depending on your skill level. You may also need to experiment a little to discover what’s right for you. Just remember to start slow, listen to your body, and give each pose your best effort.

To see the different variations for each pose, simply click on the black arrows!













12 Yoga Poses for Osteoporosis: Free Printable PDF 

I hope you benefit greatly from these 12 yoga poses. Remember, practicing them can help you improve your bone health in just 12 minutes a day! 

But I know this is a lot of information to take in. So to make it easy for you to adopt this regimen, we put together a free printable PDF of all 12 poses. That way, you can have a hard copy to study, mark up, and follow along.

Simply, click on the button below, input your name and email, and your PDF will be on its way promptly!


Yoga for Osteoporosis Takeaways

For anyone with low bone density, I can’t recommend yoga enough. 

If you’ve never tried it before, don’t be frightened by all the impressive feats of flexibility pictured in the media… 

The 12 poses in Dr. Fishman’s regimen are accessible for almost everybody. Practice them every day, and not only will you cultivate peace, strength, and balance, you’ll also be doing a wonderful favor for your bones. 

If you’re looking for some variety, you may enjoy my yoga videos from the AlgaeCal YouTube page too! Check them out at the following links: 

>> Yoga for Osteoporosis

>> Chair Yoga for Osteoporosis 

Dr. Fishman also offers weekly online classes on his website here! Simply, click on that link and scroll down to recorded web events. Then, click on the meeting recording and enter the access password.

I hope this has been helpful, and I wish you all the best in your practice. Please, don’t hesitate to ask questions or share your thoughts on these yoga poses in the comments below!

Author: Cat Buckley, RYT, RYOT

Cat Buckley is AlgaeCal’s Community Manager and Fitness Expert. She’s a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT) — a distinction given to yoga teachers whose training and experience meet Yoga Alliance requirements. She’s also a Registered Yoga for Osteoporosis Teacher (RYOT), as she completed Dr. Loren Fishman’s Yoga vs. Osteoporosis training! Cat works closely with AlgaeCal’s Resident Bone Health Expert, Lara Pizzorno, to share the latest science-backed bone health advice.