Is Yin Yoga Safe?

by Margaret Martin on April 4, 2012

in Osteoporosis Exercises

Yin yoga is a style of yoga that claims to target the connective tissue – specifically the ligaments and tendons in the joints and spine. The poses involve static holds lasting up to three minutes or longer. According to its followers it has many benefits including the elimination of energy blockages and enhancement of circulation.

I decided I would give Yin yoga a try and see if it is safe for someone with low bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis.

Yin Yoga Poses Can Cause Flexion of Spine

Many of the Yin yoga poses encourage flexion – something that should be avoided by someone with low bone density, osteopenia or osteoporosis. I recommend that you make sure that your teacher understands how to modify the poses so that flexion comes from the hip and not the spine. Or, to be completely safe, I suggest you avoid this type of yoga altogether and find an alternative.

Note: For those of you who want to print the transcript of the video, I have one at the bottom of this article.

Yoga Spinal Flexion Poses

A recent case study report by Dr Sinaki at the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation identifies many of the problems associated with yoga spinal flexion positions and their affect on people with osteopenia or osteoporosis.

In the report, three patients had osteopenia (low bone mass), were in good health and pain free. They embarked on a yoga exercise program to improve their musculoskeletal health. Unfortunately, the yoga flexion exercises the patients followed brought on pain and fractures. The author concludes that while exercise has been proven to be beneficial to bone health, “some yoga positions can contribute to extreme strain on spines with bone loss.” The concern is even greater among individuals with osteoporosis.

Yoga for Better Bones

Many of these concerns were raised in my book, Yoga for Better Bones. The book recommends modifications to popular yoga poses and identifies a number of poses that should be avoided altogether by people with osteoporosis, osteopenia or low bone density.

As I have mentioned in earlier articles, yoga has many benefits and when practiced safely it can bring great joy.

I find that most people do not have the body awareness required to make sure that they avoid getting into a flexed position. As a result, I always encourage my clients with osteoporosis to search out a teacher who knows how to modify poses to make them safe and pain free.

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Video and Transcript

Transcript – Scroll Bar is on the Right Hand Side

Hi. Welcome to MelioGuide. Today I want to speak to you about yin yoga classes.

Now when I put aside the Yoga for Better Bones book as a project a few months ago I thought phew, there’s a project behind me and I don’t have to focus on that any more and I can move on until I went to a yin yoga class yesterday.

Now, this was the very first yin yoga class. For those of you who know me, I did do my yoga instructors, but there are so many styles of yoga that I have not yet to explore them all. So having gone to this yin yoga class, I left the class thinking I need to do another blog.

So here it is.The photo that you see is a demo that we did in the class. As you can see,
you can do a pose in flexion where you’re doing it safely and flexing from
the hips.

But I tell you we were only a small class. We were four of us, where I was one of the four. The instructor is aware of my work in the area of osteoporosis. She is aware of encouraging people to flex from the hips.

Of the four women all of us 50 and over – now you know – all of us Caucasian, small, one of the four has a strong chance of being osteoporotic, and I know it’s not me.

So that means when I was looking around to my left and to my right and seeing the poses and I was not seeing the poses I wanted to see, I was really discouraged that here’s an instructor who is aware.

Here’s a small class environment, lots of opportunity to modify things, but yet these women were being put at risk for fracturing their spines from sustaining these long flexion poses with an incorrect spinal alignment.

So if you chose to do a yin class, you really have to be meticulous about your alignment. You have to take it upon yourself to ensure that your alignment is correct.

Otherwise I suggest you look for a different type of yoga.

That’s it from MelioGuide today.

Thanks.








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