Yoga for Scoliosis: The Basics
The word “scoliosis” means curvature of spine. It’s not just a deformity or problem that happens when one grows older. There are many reasons why someone may develop scoliosis, but it usually starts at birth and continues throughout life.
Scoliosis is a condition where the curve of the spine causes pain or discomfort. People with scoliosis have a curved spine because they grow up in an upright position, which puts pressure on their spinal bones (vertebrae). When this pressure increases, it creates stress on these vertebrae causing them to bend and twist. These twists cause muscles to tighten and make walking difficult. They may even put extra strain on the back and neck joints.
People with scoliosis often experience pain in their lower back and sometimes their hips. Sometimes they may feel pain in other parts of the body too. Many times the symptoms go away during physical activity, but there are some conditions that increase your risk of developing scoliosis later in life.
There are two types of scoliosis: neutral and lordotic. Lordotic means bent or twisted from side to side, while neutral means straight from front to back. The type of scoliosis you have is determined when the curve begins and how far it goes.
Neutral (Ideal) Scoliosis: When a person stands with shoulders back and head up, the curve of their spine is considered “neutral” (or straight). In this position, one should be able to draw a line from the ear to the hip bone through the spinal column.
Lordotic (Curvature) Scoliosis: The spinal column in someone with lordotic scoliosis is curved. When a person stands with shoulders back and head up, a curve can be seen going from one shoulder blade to the other through the spinal column.
The difference between neutral and lordotic curves isn’t based on how much is visible; it’s determined by the shape of the curve.
Yoga for Scoliosis
Do you have a slight curve in your back? Do you feel like there is a hump in the middle of your back? Does one shoulder sit lower than the other?
Yoga is beneficial for everyone, but it is especially important for those who suffer from scoliosis. It helps increase flexibility, strength and balance. It also helps relieve stress, which can result in less pain and discomfort.
Yoga for scoliosis focuses on rebuilding the spine with core strengthening exercises. It requires patience and dedication, but the results are worth it. You may not see results overnight, but don’t give up. Yoga takes practice, just like anything else.
“Yoga is the tool that will help you manage your scoliosis.
You may not see a physical change in your spine, but it’s still happening. Be patient, practice and re-measure yourself in 6 months. You’ll be surprised by what you see.”
– Yoga instructor Kelsey
Most importantly, enjoy yourself while doing these poses! If you feel pain or discomfort in your back, stop immediately. If a pose hurts, try it again once your back has warmed up.
Strengthens your core
Increases spinal flexibility
Alleviates back pain and discomfort
Restores balance and coordination
Relaxes the muscles in your back, shoulders and hips
Opens the chest and lungs
Helps prevent scoliosis from getting worse
1. Reclining Butterfly
Start on your back. Cross your legs, with your right leg on top. Grab your legs (just below the knee) and pull them towards your chest. Turn your knees towards the left so they point out to the side. Place your hands near the ankles and gently press the knees toward the floor.
Hold for 30 seconds, then switch legs and repeat.
2. Thread the Needle
Start in a seated position. Bring the soles of your feet together and press them firmly against each other. Place your hands on the floor behind you and slowly lift your hips off the ground, rolling onto your shoulders. Walk your hands closer to your feet until your shoulder is in between your feet. Gently lower yourself until your head lightly touches the ground.
Hold for 30 seconds, then gently roll to the side and slowly sit up.
3. Bridge Pose
Start on your back.
Sources & references used in this article:
Yoga and Scoliosis: A Journey to Health and Healing by MP Monroe – 2011 – books.google.com
Serial case reporting yoga for idiopathic and degenerative scoliosis by LM Fishman, EJ Groessl… – … in health and medicine, 2014 – journals.sagepub.com
Evidence-based of nonoperative treatment in adolescent idiopathic scoliosis by HS Kim – Asian spine journal, 2014 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Two isometric yoga poses reduce the curves in degenerative and adolescent idiopathic scoliosis by LM Fishman, EJ Groessl… – Topics in Geriatric …, 2017 – ingentaconnect.com
Scoliosis, Yoga Therapy, and the Art of Letting Go by R Krentzman – 2016 – books.google.com
Physiotherapeutic scoliosis-specific exercises for adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis by EB Miller – 2003 – Shanti Productions
Evaluation of myoelectric activity of paraspinal muscles in adolescents with idiopathic scoliosis during habitual standing and sitting by J Bettany Saltikov, E Parent, M Romano, M Villagrasa… – 2014 – air.unimi.it