Richard was a tall man – originally over 6 feet. He had noticed that over the years, he had lost height. In fact, he had lost over 6 inches of height over the past few decades. He was diagnosed with osteoporosis, an increasingly common complaint in the US.

According to the Surgeon General’s report on Bone Health and Osteoporosis, “it has been estimated that roughly 10 million individuals over age 50 in the United States have osteoporosis of the hip.” Another 33.6 million have osteopenia of the hip, which puts them at risk of osteoporosis and its symptoms, such as fractures of the hip, wrist and vertebrae.

There are many factors believed to contribute to the development of osteoporosis, including poor nutrition, being physically inactive, and smoking. Julie Halpin, a Certified Nutrition Consultant, suggests that you avoid sodas, eat a mineral-rich diet (with lots of fruits, vegetables & whole grains), and take a supplement with calcium as well as other minerals to balance it. (

Stress is also linked with osteoporosis because high levels of the stress hormone cortisol can deplete calcium from bones and interfere with new bone growth. (For help with stress, try restorative yoga or visit

The Forgotten Factor

What I haven’t seen in the media is the recognition of how important posture is for the health of the bones, and prevention or treatment of osteoporosis. When you stand, sit and move “out of Balance” in the typical American posture (such as sitting on the back of your pelvis rather than on your sits bones), you are putting undue strain on the entire body. Since the bones are no longer aligned with gravity, the forces going through them now cause stress and weakening, rather than strengthening the bones.

I’m sure you’ve all heard that weight-bearing exercise is good for building bone and preventing osteoporosis. But what about HOW we bear that weight? This is not addressed in typical discussions of osteoporosis. If you take a person who’s in a curvy posture, and look at them 20 years from now, they will undoubtedly be more curvy.

Healthy people in other cultures that are less industrialized tend to stay on the vertical axis, so gravity goes straight through the major support bones of their body – spine, pelvis and legs. Because they are “on the axis”, gravity doesn’t make them curvier. Some of these people carry large amounts of weight on their heads on a daily basis, with no apparent strain.

Encouraging Results

The good news is that by learning from these healthy, Balanced people, you can lengthen your spine and support the health of all your bones. The Balance Your Body program teaches you how to sit, stand, bend, walk, lie down and drive in comfort – in the optimal alignment with gravity.

Richard took some private Balance sessions with me and practiced Yoga in Balance with yoga teacher Beth Greenfield in Berkeley. He-mailed me a few months ago to say that according to his doctor, he has regained an inch and a half of height in the last year – and he’s in his 80’s! He credits his improvement to this work. He also says, “I found that continued regular practice, also at home, is a key ingredient in maintaining the gain.”

I’ve been teaching Balance since 1997 and I’ve seen my spine straighten and my posture improve noticeably in that time. I’ve also seen positive changes in hundreds of students over the years, including reduction of back and joint pain. With the practice of the Balance Method of postural alignment you can increase your chances of avoiding osteoporosis, and if you have osteoporosis, you can help your bones to stay healthy and strong by aligning with gravity.

© 2009 Dana K. Davis

Author's Bio: 

Dana Davis, MA, CYT, is a Certified Balance Teacher by the Balance Center in Palo Alto, California. She has practiced yoga since 1984 and is a graduate of the 3-year Advanced Studies Program at the Yoga Room in Berkeley. She is the owner of Sonoma Body Balance, a posture and yoga studio in Petaluma, CA (, 707-658-2599).