Yoga for Women's Health Artwork
Season 1 - Episode 7

Bone Health Flow

50 min - Practice
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Cheri, with the help of Elizabeth, shares a active practice to strengthen your bones and relieve stress. We balance weight bearing poses with a series of lunges, planks, and cobras, closing with a long supportive restorative pose. You will feel strong, steady, calm, and centered.
What You'll Need: Mat, Eye PIllow, Blanket (3), Strap


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Welcome back. Namaste. Today we're gonna be doing a flow for bone health, and it's a relaxed flow, kind of nice and slow to support strengthening your bones. Today Elizabeth is with me, she'll be assisting, and also demonstrating the poses for you. Encourage you to listen to your body, and feel free to modify the poses as you go along.

Most important, stay with your breath, and if your breathing starts to feel short or shallow, you can come out of the pose a little bit, make it a little gentler on you, always going deeper when you feel ready, and listening to those edges as you move along. So we'll start with just a moment of connecting in, and checking in with the body. So you'll bring one hand to your belly, and one hand to your heart. And as you bring your hands to your body, begin to move inside, with your awareness. Noticing today how you feel.

As you're listening to your body, there may be a place where stress has accumulated, or tension. And just taking notes, so that through your practice you can breathe into those areas, meet those areas with your awareness. And as you inhale now, directing your breath into your low belly, into where your hand is resting below the navel. Let that area expand, feel the ribs lifting at the top of your inhalation, bringing the breath up into the chest. Feel the top hand expanding, and then slowly breathing out.

And a long exhalation is great for clearing stress from the body, letting go of tension. Breathing in, drawing in. Energy, fresh oxygen. And stress can have a detrimental effect on our bone health, so in yoga it's important to take time to breathe, to clear the stress that's accumulated and give your body lots of fresh oxygen to work with in your practice. Taking another really deep breath here.

Coming to the tip top of your inhalation, and then slowly exhaling. Good. And, hopefully you have some props nearby. We'll be using three blankets and a strap and an eye pillow. So you want to bring all that nearby.

Your aroma therapy too if you'd like to have some aroma therapy nearby. And then take your blanket and place it at the middle of your mat. So this is gonna be open in this fold to create some softness for your knees. And then when you're ready, you can come on to the blanket with your knees underneath your hip joints, and your hands right underneath your shoulders. I recommend taking the knees just to the top edge of the blanket.

If you have a knee replacement, one thing you can do is double your blankets and let your patella or your kneecap float and so there's no pressure on the knee, and this can be done if you have a knee replacement. Now with your hands, spreading the fingers wide and feeling into your wrists, and if this isn't comfortable for your wrists you're welcome to come up onto your knuckles with the fingers pointing in, and this creates less pressure in the wrist. One of the reasons this pose is important for bone health is one of the vulnerable areas for osteopetrosis is the wrist, and so this creates weight bearing through the wrists. Now if you inhale you'll begin to let your tailbone tilt towards the sky, draw the heart forward, lengthening the front body, expanding here, and as you exhale tilt the pelvis, engage the stomach muscles, and stretch the spine up. Following the rhythm of your breath, inhaling and exhaling.

Now this movement is one of the oldest yogic movements, and it's actually considered an anti-aging pose. One of the things that happens as we age is we can get very rounded in our thoracic spine, the kyphotic round that you'll see in elderly people. This is a way to release that congestion and tension that builds after being forward so much. So you'll see, yogis age very differently, and I've seen it for myself in a beautiful woman who was, I worked with for many years. She stood perfectly straight at 97.

She didn't have any of the negative effects that you'll see when we don't stretch, and don't do yoga. Now the next time you exhale and come into Cat Pose, you'll sit back towards your heels, as far as feels comfortable for you. So you may be able to go all the way back, or part of the way back. And then you'll inhale and you'll come back hinging in your hips and your shoulders through Cow Pose. Drawing the heart forward, exhale, tucking and gaging the stomach muscles, and then pulling back.

And this stretches under the arms nicely, through the chest and breast region. And finding your own rhythm, moving with the rhythm of your breath. I find this is a really great warming pose, before any other stronger flow. It's a great pose if you sit because it opens your low back. Good.

And flowing with the rhythm of your breath. Another thing that I like to do as I come forward and come into the Cow Poses, and actually Cat, is actually squeeze the knees together. They're not moving on the blanket, but you feel as if you're engaging a little bit here, and that can be really nice for lifting the energy through the inner thighs. And one more time. Moving through, beautiful.

And then back into your Child's Pose. And just let yourself soften here. You can let your arms relax for a moment, and feel the stretch. Take a few deep breaths. So, Child's Pose is a resting pose, and it's a nice pose to do at any time when you need to reconnect with your deepest breath to rest for a moment, and feel into your body, notice what you're sensing and feeling here.

And then when you're ready, you can take a nice deep breath, and you'll come slowly back up into Table Pose, onto all fours. And we'll come into Downward Facing Dog here. So you'll turn your toes under, about hip width apart. You'll tilt the tailbone towards the sky, and feel a nice lengthening through the spine. Quite often here our neck, we can kind of unconsciously hold the head up so, take a moment to wag your head yes and no and just let go of any tension in the neck.

The hands are evenly pressing down, it can be nice to roll the shoulders open a little bit here and broaden the space in the upper back. It also works the tricep muscles, which can tend to get weak as we get older. Bicycle the legs now a few times, bending one knee, pressing the other heel towards the Earth. And just noticing how that feels, very important for health of the feet, stretching the calves. Good.

And then you'll take a nice deep inhalation. Relaxing both heels down. And then as you exhale you'll come slowly down onto your knees into Table. So from all fours, you'll come up and you'll just stand tall here on your knees, and you'll step your right foot forward and you'll bring it right to the top portion of your yoga mat. Good.

And you'll bring your hands down to the floor. As you bring your hands down to the floor, you'll turn your left toes under, and straighten your left leg. This is often called a Runner's Lung or a Low Lunge. You don't want a lot of weight in your hands, you're really using the strength of your legs, which is building your bones. So the bones get strong when the muscles press against them, or when they pull on the bones.

Take another deep breath here. And keeping your left hand now on the floor, you'll sweep your right hand up into a twist. And as you take this twist, breathing deeply. Take a moment to bring your right knee towards your heart. And that's just gonna stretch the outside of the leg a bit more, help you deepen into the twist.

Good. If your neck is tight, you could always release your left ear towards your left shoulder. So take in a deep breathe, and now bringing your right hand to the floor, and your left knee down to the blanket. Take both hands to the top of your right knee, coming up, and at the same time you'll want to bend your right knee to sink down into the lunge. Keeping your right hand on your right knee, sweep your left hand up.

Good. And lengthen through that left side. So this is great for strengthening the legs, the bones of the legs, and opening the chest. Inhaling, and as you exhale, releasing the left hand to the floor. As you come down, you'll come into Plank Pose, so you'll bring both hands to the floor.

And you'll step your right foot back, good. Your hips are gonna go down level. Stomach muscles engage, and this is where we begin to strengthen the spine, another area that can weaken with osteopenia and osteopetrosis. Holding here, breathing, and really activating the energy, making sure that you're pressing back through the heels. And then as you're ready, you'll bring your knees gently down to the floor.

You'll cross your ankles, and you'll bring your elbows kind of towards your ribcage here, as you come into three baby chatturangas, exhaling down, inhaling up. And you're welcome to go all the way down if you're strong enough, but starting here, and then the final time we'll go all the way to the floor. Good. From here, feel free to scoot back so the pelvis is right on top of the blanket. And we're gonna come into a Floating Cobra, so the hands are in position right under the shoulders, but you use your back muscles and float your hands off the floor.

Your head, your chest, your hands, float, good. And feel the openness in your chest here. Breathing, anchoring down through the pelvis. Great back strengthening posture. Now inhale deeply, as you exhale you'll bring your hands down.

Slide them about five inches forward, of the shoulder joints, but a shoulder width apart. Then pressing up, wrap your elbows in and start to telescope your ribcage forward, Low Cobra. We're gonna keep the elbows bent here though, which is gonna require the arms to work a little bit more. Hands active, good. Deep breath, lengthening, good.

And as you exhale, come all the way down. You'll slide your hands back under your shoulders, you'll push up, you'll push back to Downward Facing Dog. And you can walk your feet in a little bit if you need to, to find a good position. Hands are shoulder width apart. If you find that your hands tend to slide, sometimes putting a little blanket or one of the fabrics for yoga mats can be helpful here.

And then bicycle the legs a few times. You might feel the difference on this side after doing the lunge. Good. And then both heels pressings back and down. Then you'll slowly come back to Table Pose.

And from Table Pose, you'll come up onto your knees, and we'll change sides. So now stepping your left foot forward. And bringing it up to the top of the yoga mat. Bringing your hands to the floor, and turning the right toes under and stretching the right leg up and back and down through the achilles. As you're holding here, it can be nice to have light fingers on the floor, not a lot of weight through the hands, so you really want to work your legs, really strengthening your bones.

Taking another breath. Good. And then the right hand comes down, left hand sweeps up into your twist. The face can face forward, or if your neck is tight, you can release your head towards the Earth. And feel the heart opening, twisting is great.

Left knee moving towards the chest a little bit. Inhale. And as you exhale, release the left hand down. Bringing your right knee to the floor. Both hands to the top of the left thigh.

And bend the left knee as you come forward into your lunge. Beautiful. And now keeping your left hand on the floor, sweep the right, on your knee rather, sweep your right hand up. Feel the ribcage lifting. By the way, this is a good stretch for the soace, the illia soace muscle, the hip flexor, to that right side.

Inhaling, lengthening. And exhale, releasing. Good. We're coming back through Plank one more time everyone, stepping your left foot back, pressing back through your heels, engaging your core, great core strengthening pose. Feeling a lengthening through the body, strengthening for the wrists as you exhale.

Knees come to the blanket. Cross your ankles, you may cross the other way if you like. And then three baby chatturangas, elbows coming in close towards the ribs, keeping the shoulders as relaxed as possible. And the fourth time we'll go all the way to the floor. Starting with our Floating Cobra with the hands right where they are.

You can float up, engage the buttocks here, try to see if you can get a little more, open the chest, breathe into the heart, strengthening all the muscles along the spine, pulling on the spine, strengthening the spine, and then as you exhale, come down, slide the hands forward about five inches, and you'll lift, you can feel that muscles from the Floating Cobra also activating here. Beautiful. Heart opening, anchoring down through the hips. And these back bends are so important, also, for anti-aging and keeping the energy flowing through the heart center. As you're ready, you can come on down, and then keeping the hands, or sliding the hands rather, right under the shoulders you can come up, and one more time, back to Down Dog.

Feel free to bicycle the legs one more time. Stretching long through the heels. And feel out what feels good. Sometimes I like to swing my hips, sometimes I like to lift one leg off the floor and then the other lengthening through. Find what feels good and enjoy your practice.

And then when you're down with your Down Dog, you can take a nice deep breath and slowly bring your knees back to the blanket. And you'll slide your knees to the top corners of the blanket, so we're gonna do a wide kneed Child's Pose. You can sit back as far as feels comfortable, and then release down. So opening the knees a little bit allows the chest to really relax down. You can relax the arms, let your head rest, and it can be nice to rock right across the third eye here.

We've been working with this point a lot in this season for calming the mind, quieting the mind, and de-stressing. Remember that you can, in each pose, notice how it feels to you. And if there's discomfort in your hips or your knees, you can always lift your hips up high or away from your heels, and bring more weight onto your forearms for a gentler version for the knees or hips. And there are days when, I don't know if it's hormonal for me, but my knees will start feeling a little achy, and I'll do that gentler version with the hips over the knees instead of over the heels. But you can notice, your body may not go all the way back and just kind of where it is each day, honoring where it needs to be.

And when you're ready, you can slowly come up to a seated position, and we'll prepare now for a restorative pose. This is one of my all time favorites, and many people have told me it's theirs' as well. And we'll take one blanket, fold it in half, and you'll place it at the top of your bolster. You can always use a bed pillow if you don't have a blanket, or something that feels good under your head. And you're gonna take your two blankets, so the one that was under your knees, and the additional blanket, you'll roll them and you'll place them to either side of the bolster.

And you'll notice we're rolling them long way, so you have lots of space, good. And then you'll sit in front of the bolster. Now you're not gonna come back just yet, because we're gonna do the bound version of the Resting Butterfly today. Also know as the Goddess Pose. So you'll bring the soles of your feet together.

I recommend also taking your eye pillow and putting it either near to your mat, so you can easily reach it, or over the top of the thighs, so you know right where it is. And then with your strap, open your strap. And I like to make a lasso with it, so I find this is a pretty easy way to do it yourself. Is you make a circle, and you don't tighten it yet, you just make a nice big loop, and you put it over your head. And as it goes over your head, you'll take it under both feet, and you'll want bring the strap to one side of your body, but before you tighten it, take a moment to get the top or the backside of the strap around your sacrum.

So the sacrum is below the lumbar spine, and it's a triangular bone at the base of the spine. If the strap is going around the sacrum, what happens is it will really just go right over the top of the thigh. If it's around your waist it's gonna feel like a belt, so we want it below the waist line of your pants, and below the waist, good. And then you can tighten that strap fairly firmly, you want it to hold your sacrum as you come back, and that's gonna create a lovely lengthening, little push on the bones, but lengthening for the low back. And then making sure the bolster's straight back behind you, you can hold it with your hands if you like, or you can bring your hands to the floor, and then slowly tuck your chin towards your chest and come back, bringing that folded blanket right under your head.

And you can place your eye pillow now over your eyes. And this is your time to focus on you, to go inside, to rest after the movement. And so as you come into this pose, begin to relax into the support of your bolster and your blankets. Feeling how delicious it is to take this time to rest and restore. I invite you to join me in a meditation, visualizing a root growing down from the tip of your tailbone, deeply down into the Earth.

And visualize this being like a stem. Growing roots down into the Earth and connecting to the Earth energy. And then as you inhale, visualize drawing that energy up and feel it flowing through your spine, strengthening the bones of your spine, nourishing everything it touches. And as it flows up higher, you become aware of a feeling of blossoming in the heart, in the third eye, in the crown. As if your body is flowering open.

Feeling the strength of your stem, of your spine. Receiving nourishment from the Earth with each breath. And then feeling the light from above. Drinking that light in to your flower, and you may even have an image of what flowers are blossoming from your body, and just let in, the flowers open with the sunlight, and the nourishment of the Earth. Growing receptive to the sweetness of your own inner nectar.

Drinking in the light, and drinking in positive energy of the Earth. As you allow your breath to now deepen, feel and visualize the light surrounding you flowing in with each breath. Every cell breathing in light. And noticing the blossoming of your heart, your third eye, your crown, the beautiful openings within as you take a few more breaths here. And then as you prepare to release from the pose, when you're at home you'll need to just wiggle one foot out at a time from the strap, and so it kind of takes pushing with one foot, and pulling the other one out.

And then you can slowly release your legs. And once you've released your legs, you can take a moment to outstretch the legs, you can circle the ankles and the feet a few times. And while you're here, you can leave your strap here if you like, or you can undo it, whatever you prefer. And while you're here, take a moment to choose which side you're gonna roll to, so you can feel into your body and feel where it would like to go. And then once you've decided, you'll take a hold of the blanket on that side.

The side that you're gonna roll to, and you'll just move it a little bit out of the way. You'll bend your knees, and then remembering that you're up quite high, you can roll to your side. And you may also want to take the blanket that was under your head with you. Pulling a hold of that, and coming into the side lying Resting Pose. So you can bring the blanket roll right between your knees, ankles, and shins, so it supports you.

You can draw the knees towards your chest a little bit, put the blanket under your head. And then you can even reach back with your top hand and pull the bolster onto its side, and push it right up against your back. This creates this really nice feeling of safety. And then your third blanket, if you'd like, you're welcome to put it over you if you feel cool at all, that can be nice, creating that extra tucking in. If you feel warm or you tend to run hot because of your menopausal symptoms, you can just rest without the blanket.

I also sometimes like to put the eye pillow on the neck or even the temple, so see where it feels the best to you. And taking a few minutes here to rest and restore your energy in the side lying Resting Pose, it's a good pose for calming the nervous system. It's also a forward bend, after we've been in the heart opening of our resting bound angle or Resting Butterfly Pose. So enjoying this time of the stillness, feeling your breath, breathing into your belly and letting it expand from there throughout the body. And feel as if you're surrounded in a protective energy.

Maybe a color that comes to, or a vital force. Imagine that you're floating in this light or energy. Feeling really safe. Feeling peaceful. And taking a few deep breaths.

And when you're feeling ready to release, you can bring your top hand down to the floor, and then slowly roll forward a bit so you're facing forward, and then rolling up one vertebrae at a time. Now as you come up, this is a time to set up for your deep relaxation, so you want to remove your strap from around your waist, and over your head and you'll take your blanket roll, and you'll roll it and put it right on top of your bolster. And then you can put one blanket flat behind you for your head and neck support, and you'll extend your legs up and over. And this is a supported relaxation pose, it's a nice one because it opens the knees a little bit, so if you do tend to have some tenderness in the knees, it's a good one. Come on back when you're ready, and feel free to roll the neck, roll just a bit under your neck if you like it that way or you can fold it in half, or whatever feels the best for you.

Some people just like to have it flat. And then we'll bring the eye pillow over your eyes and if you're working with some aroma therapy, now's a nice time to give yourself a drop. Some of the blends that are great for women, have Clary Sage and Rose Geranium or Geranium, which has been shown to be helpful for hormonal balancing. So feel free to place a drop in your hand, rub your hands together, breathe the scent in. And feel the gifts of the scent, of the particular scent.

One of the things about scent is it's directly connected to the memory portion of our brain. So when you smell a scent as you're going into a deep relaxation, it's sort of sets you up to have a relaxed response when you smell that scent again, so it's a nice kind of training to do for yourself. And check in with your body and see if you would like a blanket. If you need a blanket, it can be nice to put it over even just the part of you that feels a little cool, whether it be your feet, or your belly, or your upper body. And, or rest without it, if you prefer.

And noticing as you come into your final relaxation Shavasana Pose that is very key for nourishing the kidney chi, very very important when we're going through menopause or perimenopause, because it helps to balance our yin and yangs. So, enjoy this stillness, enjoy the deep rest. And as you feel inside, just taking a journey within and meeting any place that is still needing some breath or some compassion. Just feeling the breath washing through you, like a gentle breeze. And breeze blows through the inner landscapes of the body, and feel the spaciousness it creates as it flows through you.

Feel your body growing wonderfully heavy, and relaxed. Your muscles and your bones sinking down into the Earth. And feel the sensation of the Earth holding you. And letting go deeper and deeper down into that support. And visualize, as you rest in the embrace of the Earth.

Your bones taking all the poses and your practice. All the movements and strengthening. Feel that changing the bone from deep within. Visualize the bone as solid and strong and healthy. Being grateful for the bones of your body.

Feeling how they wrap around the organs. Protecting them. The brain, the heart, the lungs. Feeling the beauty of the spine. Freedom to move.

To feel the energy flowing. Through the spine, through the limbs. It's resting in this place of gratitude and connection with the bones of your body. Gently and slowly begin to deepen your breath. And following the path of your breath as it flows in and flows out.

Reawakening with each breath. Coming back, feeling stronger, and feeling centered, peaceful. And relaxed. And you can begin to turn your head slowly from side to side. Wiggle your fingers and your toes.

And then drawing your knees into your chest and rocking a little bit from side to side. As you rock from side to side, feel the massage across your low back and your hips. Massaging it out. And then gently rolling onto your side, and bringing the blanket under your head and folding it as high as you need to so it's comfortable for your neck. And taking a moment here to, bring your hands to your heart, or you can wrap your arms around yourself and just give yourself a loving embrace.

Feeling the genuine love and compassion you hold for yourself. Reflecting on how strong you are. Feeling the gifts of your practice. In this time of focusing on yourself. And then as you feel ready, and you're welcome to stay here for longer, if you're ready you can slowly make your way up to a seated position.

And you can keep the blanket around you too if you feel cool at all, and sitting up on a folded blanket or your bolster can be nice here. And we'll take the hands into the heart and Anjali mudra and just take a moment to press your thumbs into the breast bone, feeling that strong bone that's over the heart, the sternum. And feeling the life force of your heart that beats beneath your bones. Vital energy, it animates you. It heals you.

And it even helps your bones become stronger. And we bow to that essence. Namaste. Namaste.


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