Yoga for Scoliosis

yoga for scoliosis

“While Yoga may not cure or fix scoliosis, it will certainly improve posture, elongate the spine, and uniformly develop tissues. As trained Alignment Yoga teachers, we work to strengthen the legs which provide support for the spine and focus on lengthening the spine, stretching muscles that have become tight, and strengthening muscles that have become weak. We also focus on de-rotating the spine and ribs, creating more balance and harmony in the body.

What is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an abnormal curvature of the spine. This condition usually affects girls in the early teens. The cause is usually unknown. This condition is called Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis.

If detected early, doctors will most likely recommend treatment with non-invasive method such as brace to halt the progression of the scoliosis. Physical activity such as a regular yoga practice, is one form of treatment your doctor may recommend to help you deal with the challenges and pain that accompany scoliosis.

The curves grow as the child grows taller. Bigger curve can cause problem such as body asymmetry. One shoulder may be higher than the other. The hip or waist on one side may be more prominent than the other. This can create low self-esteem in the child.

Scoliosis is more than spinal curvature. If the magnitude increases to more than 50 degrees other accompanying issues such as headache, back pain, fatigue, joint pain, digestive trouble and breathing difficulties

The curve can happen on either side of the spine and in different places in the spine. The convex side of the spinal curve contains lengthened muscles that are weak from being overstretched, whereas the concave side contains shortened muscles that are denser and less flexible.

How Yoga Helps those with Scoliosis Benefits of Yoga Practice for Scoliosis

By combining the yoga postures with breathing awareness, one can develop a structural alignment, creating a more normal symmetrical alignment. This is accomplished by stretching muscles that have tightened and strengthening muscles that have become weak from this asymmetrical imbalance. Thereby the body will create a more effortless posture using the bone structure, rather than over working the muscles to hold itself up. Through yoga, one can find that balance point that allows the scoliosis curve to coexist with gravity and activates the body’s natural plumb line.

The body with scoliosis has developed a highly sophisticated compensating ‘act’ and through Yoga, it can be trained to learn a more refined symmetrical ‘act’ with proper instruction.

Benefits of Yoga Practice for Scoliosis

The result for most people with scoliosis is better posture and less pain.

  1. Increased flexibility

The concave side of the spine has shortened, tight muscles, that pull on the spine and cause compression, resulting in intense pain as well as worsened scoliosis. Increasing flexibility of the concave side helps prevent pulling and better supports the spine. It often results in better mobility of the thoracic spine.

  1. Decreased pain and stiffness

Through increasing flexibility of the spine, yoga can reduce compression and pain by relieving the pressure on the vertebrae and surrounding bones and tissues.

  1. Stretches and strengthens core and spinal muscles

The muscles and connective tissue on the convex side of the curve are constantly being overstretched, making them weak. Strengthening these muscles through yoga poses will help the muscles better support the spine and prevent further deterioration.

  1. Improved oxygen and blood flow

Scoliosis can cause restricted oxygen and blood flow to the compressed areas of the body. Yoga poses involve careful breathwork that help redirect blood flow back to these areas.

  1. Improved spinal position

Some yoga exercises for scoliosis can help rotate the body back to alignment and build muscles to help hold the correct spinal position.

Yoga Poses for Scoliosis

The practice of Yoga as a therapy for scoliosis is based on mind, breath and body awareness. Poses are held longer so that you can adjust for your scoliosis.

Yoga Poses for Scoliosis

Before starting  on your yoga practice, have a clear picture which way the curve goes from behind and understand the rotation so that you understand how to do the poses to correct the curve.

The practice of Yoga as a therapy for scoliosis is based on mind, breath and body awareness. Focus on yoga breathing with simple poses to bring the breath into the compressed areas, where breathing is compromised.

Hold the poses longer (about 90 seconds) so that you can adjust for your scoliosis. For faster improvement, practice 6 times a week.

  1. Majariasana – Cat – Cow Pose

This is a combination stretch for your spinal muscles and tendons. The curling and arching of the spine while switching between cat and cow stretch the spaces between the vertebrae opens improves spinal flexibility. A  full, diaphragmatic breath also helps unravel any tightness along your back

Besides this, it keeps the core muscles engaged as well .

  1. Thread the needle pose

Allows you to feel the rib cage better than many other twisting poses while encouraging elongation. “The downward pressure of the torso’s weight may help to lengthen the compressed area of the spine, a benefit that you don’t get when vertical in sitting and standing.”

  1. Alternate leg and arm lift

Strengthens the core and back muscles, and it also helps align the pelvis

  1. Adho Mukha Virasana – Child Pose

This calms down the nervous system and also relaxes the spine. This pose is specially ideal for people with scoliosis or spinal curvature due to some form of neuromuscular disorder

  1. Adho Mukha Svanasana with ropes

This yoga posture lengthens spine and strengthens your arms and legs. It can also bring balance to your shoulders and pelvis. With this yoga pose, the weight of body is distributed equally to legs thus taking stress off spine.

  1. Trikonasana, back leg against wall, holding top ropes, outside hand on chair

Helps align the pelvis, strengthen  legs and lengthen the sides of the body. Arms also helps to open the chest cavity.

  1. Ardha Uttanasana – rope against groin, hands on chair

Scoliosis patients have poor spinal alignment and posture. Practicing half forward bend for scoliosis lengthens the spine and sides of the body that can rectify the spinal misalignment back and reduces stress on it. Helps lengthen tight hamstring and helps grounding of the foot.

  1. Viradbhadrasana 2, back leg against wall, chair in front and hands on chair

Strengthen the leg muscles and core muscles, important for stability and posture. Also strengthen the back muscles supporting the spine

  1. Utkatasana – holding top ropes, back against wall

Because the knees are bent, and your pelvis is hanging, the spine is able to lengthen more. As the back is supported on the wall, the pelvis and shoulders get levelized.

  1. Bharadvajasana on chair

The spinal twist in a chair helps to de-rotate the twist in a scoliotic spine

  1. Salabhasana hands on chair

 Gives flexibility and strengthens the entire back. It also relieves stress from the body, gets rid of fatigue, and helps lower back pain。

  1. Setu Bandha Sarvangasana

This yoga pose stretches and strengthens spine and back muscle. It is not only effective in correcting scoliosis but it also helps decreases anxiety and stress and calms the mind.

  1. Anantasana

This is an asymmetrical balancing pose. Lying on one side of the body and engaging the core muscles to lift one leg and head off the floor, it helps lengthen the concave side of the spine and torso and enhances the balance of the body along with toning and strengthen the legs and core muscles to help with scoliosis.

  1. Savasana

This pose relaxes the body and helps in rejuvenating.

Getting started

  • Get private instruction. When getting started with yoga, taking private sessions is recommended. In a private class, our trained teachers can help identify the convex and concave sides of the spinal curve, and provide the appropriate therapeutic exercises, and provide guidance with ways to modify in a public class.
  • Practice daily. Daily home practice is key, even if only for a short time. “By committing to a daily self-practice, your body has more chance to make a deeper imprint of what you practiced in class and you can educate it to find more symmetry from an asymmetrical body.
  • Stay consistent & committed A yoga practice will help you take care of your scoliosis but as the most important asset that you own, it needs to be taken care of and maintained throughout your lifetime