Osteoporosis-Safe Yoga Poses

What is Osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a disease which causes bones to lose mass and become more fragile. Our bones generally lose calcium and other minerals and become more fragile as we age. This process is more prevalent in postmenopausal women, who are at greater risk for osteoporosis. Along with age, other contributing factors of osteoporosis are lack of exercise, a diet low in calcium and vitamin D, alcohol consumption, and smoking.

Generally, osteoporosis has no symptoms and may not be detected until a bone is broken. The most common areas for breaks to occur are the hips, vertebrae, and wrist bones. However, individuals with osteoporosis face an increased likelihood of bone fractures from minor falls or everyday activities like lifting or bending over. Fractures, if undetected, can lead to breaks and more serious injury.

For people with osteoporosis, preventing a fall is the top priority. It is important to remain active and take care of your bones and the muscles that support them, doing what you can to keep your bone density up so that you can remain healthy and independent.

Exercise is Important

Regular exercise plays an important role in taking care of your body. There are four types of exercises that are recommended for people with osteoporosis: weight-bearing, strength training, flexibility, and balance and fall-prevention exercises.

Examples of weight-bearing exercises are high- or low-impact aerobics, jogging or walking, jumping rope, and using elliptical or step machines.

Muscle strengthening exercises include activities like lifting free weights or your own body weight, using resistance bands or weight machines, as well as functional movement like sitting and standing drills, walking lunges, and performing movements while balancing on one leg.

Flexibility exercises include gentle stretching and moving the joints in their full range of motion.

Balance and stability exercises include standing on one leg and activities that involve transferring weight slowly from one foot to the other.

Together, these exercises can help safely increase your bone density, strength, balance, and coordination. You will also improve your posture and lessen the risk of bone fractures, falls, and injuries.

Yoga and Osteoporosis

So how can Yoga help?

Studies done in recent years have been promising, but are inconclusive as to whether Yoga can help build bone density. More research needs to be done.

However, because preventing a fall is the top priority, Yoga can be effective in improving balance, alignment, strength, flexibility, and coordination.

Our sister company, Pilates Anytime, collaborated with the Bone Health and Osteoporosis Foundation (BHOF) and Doctor of Physical Therapy, Certified Exercise Expert for Aging Adults, and Pilates Anytime teacher Dr. Sherri Betz to create this flyer of safe yoga poses for individuals with osteoporosis.

Here are four postures to work into your exercise routine if you have osteoporosis.

Always check with your doctor before beginning a new fitness regime to make sure it will be safe for you.

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Tree Pose (Vrksasana) is beneficial for those with osteoporosis because it tests your balance, strength, and stability – all of which are important in helping prevent falls and injury.

  1. If you need help with your balance, do this pose next to a wall or chair. Start with the wall or chair to your left.
  2. Find Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Settle your gaze on a fixed point to help steady your balance.
  3. Place your hands on your hips and shift your weight into your left foot, coming onto the ball of the right foot. Keep your pelvis bones facing forward as you rotate your right leg out to the side. Bring the right foot to the inner ankle, calf, or upper thigh of the left leg.
  4. You can keep your hands on your hips. or if you are feeling steady, bring your hands to Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra) at your heart, or raise them up. Stretch through your fingertips, and for more challenge, raise your gaze. When you are finished, slowly come out of this pose to ensure you keep your balance. Try the other side.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Osteoporosis may result in stooped posture or kyphosis. The focus on proper alignment in Triangle Pose (Trikonasana) leads to better posture and less stress on the joints.

  1. Find Warrior 2 with your right leg forward. Straighten your right leg, reach your right fingertips out over your right toes, and tilt at the waist.
  2. Bring your right hand to your calf or ankle or to a yoga block.
  3. Rotate your left ribs towards the wall behind you and stretch your left arm up. Look up at your left fingertips to get a nice stretch in your neck.
  4. Take a few breaths here and then once you’re ready, slowly come out of the pose. Try on the other side.

Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III)

In addition to challenging your balance and stability, Warrior 3 (Virabhadrasana III) will strengthen your legs, hips, core, and back. As with any balance pose, feel free to support yourself with a wall or chair to avoid falls.

  • Begin in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Step your left foot back a few feet and come into Crescent Pose with your left heel off the mat and your arms reaching up. Make sure your feet are wide enough so that you do not feel like you are on a tightrope.
  • Bring your hands into Prayer Pose (Anjali Mudra) and press your feet into the floor as you lengthen your upper body over your right leg. Find a steady point a couple feet in front of your right foot to gaze at.
  • Press off the toes of your left foot and tilt your upper body forward. Center your weight over your straightened right leg, and stretch your left leg back. Keep your hip bones level with the floor. If you are tighter in the hamstrings, you can keep a slight bend in your legs.
  • You can keep your hands in Prayer Pose, reach them out to the sides, or reach them forward along your ears.
  • Pause here a few breaths. Once you’re ready, bring your left foot to meet your right foot and return to Mountain Pose. Do the other side.
  • Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)

    Spinal extension poses like Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana) improve posture and help strengthen the supporting muscles around your spine.

  • Lie prone on your mat with your forehead on the mat. Actively lengthen your legs back behind you about hip distance apart with your toenails on the mat.
  • Bring your hands flat onto the mat at the sides of your lower ribs. Engage your core muscles and roll your shoulder blades onto your back. Gently press your hands into the mat and lift your upper body off the mat.
  • Tuck your chin back toward your spine. Keep stretching your toes toward the back of your mat.
  • Be here for a few breaths, then lower down, and fold your hands under your forehead.
  • Yoga Poses to Avoid

    There are a few Yoga poses that people with osteoporosis should avoid:

    1. Intense forward folds or rounding postures like Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottonasana) and Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
    2. Deep twists like Lord of the Fish pose (Matsyendrasana) or Revolved Triangle (Pavrtta Trikonasana)
    3. Deep hip stretches like Pigeon pose.

    Yoga can be greatly beneficial in preventing and managing osteoporosis. In addition to improving your strength, balance, flexibility, and coordination, Yoga also offers a sense of awareness and mental calm to connect your mind and body to the present moment.

    If you have experience with osteoporosis, how has your yoga practice benefited you? Let us know in the comments below!

    Elizabeth Meriwether
    About the Author

    Elizabeth Meriwether

    Elizabeth is a yogini and musician from NYC living with her tiny dog Panino among the palm trees in La-La Land. She is curious about everything, goes all-out at karaoke, loves to ride her bike really fast by the ocean and to sit really still in meditation.


    Jane H
    1 person likes this.
    I found this really helpful. It would be great to have a couple of sessions specifically designed for us with osteoporosis.
    Elizabeth M
    Jane H Thank you for your comment, and for your interest in osteoporosis content. We really appreciate your connecting in. Thank you for being here 🙏 ❤️ 

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