This simple forward bend, called intense stretch pose, improves posture.
It seems inevitable, that hunched-over, old-lady walk. It’s not, with the right kind of exercise. Your mother was right; you’ve got to stand up straight.
A collapsed spine created what used to be called a dowager’s hump. Women went into menopause, their bones got soft and next thing they knew, they were getting a great view of the ground. They just couldn’t stand up straight. Men also get weaker bones, although not so quickly as women.
Strong bones are a big part of helping us stand up straight, and hormone replacement therapy is one way to keep bones strong when menopause starts, women are told. A study in 1996 found women who took the therapy had stronger bones. But a doctor at UCLA, Dr. Gail Greendale, studied what happened in the years after that study. Dr. Greendale and fellow researchers found that women who continued taking hormone replacements after three years did not gain any more bone density.
Without popping hormone pills, how can women or men keep from getting that hump?
Get good posture, now. Strong back muscles now will be strong back muscles later. Dr. Greendale also led a study published in 2002 on how yoga can help prevent that hunched over posture, called kyphosis. Within 12 weeks, the women got a quarter-inch taller. The women, all 60 or older, were able to stand up from a chair faster, pick up a penny faster and reach upward farther. Like Dr. Greendale, the study co-authors are with the School of Medicine at UCLA.
Think you're too stiff to do yoga? Try Iyengar yoga. Iyengar teachers can modify poses for beginners, and the Iyengar Yoga Institute of Los Angeles is offering introductory classes this month and next.