Yoga Poses for Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis is a narrowing of the spaces in the spine where the spinal cord and nerve roots transverse. The narrowing of these passageways results in pressure on the spinal cord and/or nerve roots that exit the spine creating pain, numbness, tingling and weakness. The spinal passageways can be further closed off due to inflammation that arises after these tissues become irritated. Central stenosis is narrowing of the central cannal where the spinal cord travels. Lateral stenosis is the narrowing of the openings between vertebrae where the nerve roots exit the spine.

For central stenosis, backbends can close off the spinal canal and must be approached with caution, backing off if symptoms are reproduced. Forward bends open the canal diameter and will help to reduce symptoms. For lateral stenosis, side bending and twisting away from the painful side will open up the spaces between the vertebrae to reduce pressure on the nerve roots and alleviate symptoms. For both types of stenosis, practice inversions to reduce inflammation and use poses that emphasize good posture and lengthen the spine.

Click on an image or posture name for detailed instructions, contraindications and modifications.

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Comments 9

  1. I have spinal stenosis. I am unsure if it is central or lateral. Forward bends cause an increase in the pain I experience in my buttocks and upper thighs. Is there anything I can do to prevent that?

  2. Sounds like it may be lateral. I would definitely recommend not doing forward bending poses, although you may be able to do them with a flat back and not cause an increase in pain if you are very careful.

  3. I have foraminal stenosis at right side due to lateral-posterior disk herniation. Which yoga poses are right for me?

  4. I have cervical spinal stenosis, and would like to know which poses are beneficial, as well as those I should avoid. I have been practicing yoga for about 10 years. Thanks so much!

  5. I have several neural foraminal stenosis on my right side and mild neural foraminal stenosis on my left servical C6-7 does yoga can help me ?

    1. Post

      Carlos – yoga could be helpful with what you are describing. I’d highly recommend you work with a skilled yoga therapist or a physical therapist to make sure you are doing the correct movements in the poses to help your condition.

    2. i had 12 months to fix foramen narrowing at c6/7 before my op, iam 8 month into it now , and have been doing bikram yoga 5 days a week, .yes yoga worked for me, i will be saying no to the op in 3 months time . good luck

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