Scoliosis is a disorder that causes an abnormal curve of the spine, or backbone. The spine has normal curves when looking from the side, but it should appear straight when looking from the front. People with scoliosis develop additional curves to either side of the body, and the bones of the spine twist on each other, forming a “C” or an “S” shape in the spine.
This disorder occurs most often in children age 10 to 14 and is about two times more common in girls than boys. Scoliosis is hereditary and people with scoliosis are more likely to have children with scoliosis. Symptoms of scoliosis can include uneven shoulders, an uneven waistline, or one hip higher than the other.
Yoga Might Relieve The Symptoms Of Scoliosis And Improve Spinal Alignment
Yoga places a lot of importance on the alignment of the body. While the poses may look like they are twisting your body completely out of its natural form, each pose works on specific joints, muscles, and organs. A well-rounded yoga routine can bring your body to its perfect form where every part is functioning at its best.1
People with scoliosis can benefit from yoga poses that stretch and flex the spine. However, if you find a pose to be painful, stop immediately and inform your yoga teacher. A good yoga teacher can help you with modifications that can help you work your way towards the actual pose. Also, consult your doctor before using yoga as a form of therapy. Here are 5 simple yoga poses that can help with spine abnormalities.2
1. Cat-Cow Pose
This pose elongates the spine and releases tension in the back muscles. Start on your hands and knees with your wrists directly under your shoulders, and your knees directly under your hips. Point your fingertips to the top of your mat. Place your shins and knees hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and soften your gaze downward.3
Begin by moving into Cow Pose: Inhale as you drop your belly towards the mat. Lift your chin and chest, and gaze up toward the ceiling. Broaden across your shoulder blades and draw your shoulders away from your ears.
Next, move into Cat Pose: As you exhale, draw your belly to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling. The pose should look like a cat stretching its back.
Release the crown of your head toward the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. Inhale, coming back into Cow Pose, and then exhale as you return to Cat Pose.4
2. Child’s Pose
This pose relieves pain in the back. Kneel on the mat. Touch your big toes together and sit on your heels, then separate your knees about as wide as your hips. Exhale and slowly lay your torso down between your thighs.
Broaden your lower back across the back of your pelvis and narrow your hip points towards your navel, so that they nestle down onto the inner thighs.
Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis while you lift the base of your skull away from the back of your neck.
Lay your hands on the floor alongside your torso with your palms up, and release the front of your shoulders towards the floor.
Feel how the weight of the front of your shoulders pulls your shoulder blades wide across your back. Stay in this position for 30 seconds to a minute.5
3. Triangle Pose
This standing pose not only elongates the spine but improves posture and spinal alignment. To do this, stand straight. Separate your feet comfortably wide apart (about 31/2 to 4 feet). Turn your right foot out 90 degrees and the left foot in by 15 degrees.
Now align the center of your right heel with the center of your arch of left foot. Ensure that your feet are pressing the ground and the weight of your body is equally balanced on both the feet.
Inhale deeply and as you exhale, bend your body to the right, downward from the hips, keeping the waist straight, allowing your left hand to come up in the air while your right hand comes down towards the floor. Keep both arms in straight line.
Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot, whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the waist. Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing softly at the left palm.
Your body should be bent sideways and not backward or forward. Pelvis and chest are wide open. Stretch maximum and be steady. Keep taking in long deep breaths. With each exhalation, relax the body more and more. Just be with the body and the breath.
As you inhale, come up, bring your arms down to your sides, and straighten your feet. Repeat the same on the other side.6
4. Vashista’s Pose
This pose strengthens the back muscles and improves spinal alignment. Begin in Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Lower your hips and shift your weight forward to come into Plank Pose (the top of a push-up).
Step your feet together and press your weight down through your right hand and forearm. Then, roll your body to the right, balancing on the outer edge of your right foot. Stack your left foot on top of your right foot and keep your legs straight.
Extend your left arm to the sky, reaching through your fingertips as you lift your hips and firm the triceps of both arms. Feel the muscles across your shoulder blades flex. Firm your thighs, and press through your heels into the floor.
Bring your body into one straight line. Gaze at your top thumb. Press down through your bottom index finger.
Hold for up to 30 seconds. Exhale as you slowly return to Plank Pose, then into Downward-Facing Dog. Repeat on the opposite side. After both sides, rest in Child’s Pose.7
5. Warrior I Pose
This pose strengthens and stretches the legs, psoas, and back muscles. This pose is best practiced with the support of a doorjamb or pillar so as to keep the torso upright and balanced. Begin standing at the top of your mat in Mountain pose, or Tadasana. On an exhale, step your left foot back about 3 ½ to 5 feet (depending on the length of your legs and the level of openness in your hips).
Turn your left toes out approximately 45 degrees, and place the sole of your foot flat down on the mat. Press down firmly through the pinky toe edge of your back foot, and align the left heel with the right heel.
Bend into your right knee, ensuring that the knee is stacked directly over the ankle and isn’t splaying to the left or right. Move toward squaring your hips and shoulders towards the front of your mat, and lengthen your tailbone down to maintain a neutral pelvis.
On an inhale, extend your arms up alongside your ears. Either keep the palms shoulder-distance apart or bring the palms together to touch and send your gaze up between your hands or to your thumbs.
Relax your shoulders away from your ears and draw the low ribs in, keeping the core engaged.
Remain in the pose anywhere from 5 to 10 breaths.
To come out of the pose, either lower the palms and make your way into Downward-Facing Dog, or step back up to the top of the mat. Repeat on the other side.
|↑1||Fishman, Loren M., Erik J. Groessl, and Karen J. Sherman. “Serial case reporting yoga for idiopathic and degenerative scoliosis.” Global advances in health and medicine 3, no. 5 (2014): 16-21.|
|↑2||Monroe, Marcia. “Yoga and movement re-education for the treatment of idiopathic scoliosis.” Scoliosis 5, no. 1 (2010): O24.|
|↑3||Can Yoga Benefit Kids with Musculoskeletal Conditions? Hospital For Special Surgery.|
|↑4||Cat-Cow Pose. Penn State University.|
|↑5||Stretch An Illustrated Step-By-Step Guide To Yoga Postures. Los Angeles Mission University.|
|↑6||Basic Yoga Poses. The University Of Florida.|
|↑7||A Digital Textbook for Yoga I and II. North Carolina State University.|