Scoliosis is the presence of abnormal lateral (side-to-side) curves and rotations in the spinal column. In 80 to 85 percent of people, the cause of scoliosis is unknown. In adults, scoliosis can produce symptoms of back pain, muscle tightness, fatigue, decreased lung capacity and possible neurological symptoms of dizziness, numbness and tingling. Yoga’s emphasis on spinal movement as well as its overall healing abilities and innate promotion of correct posture make it an important alternative therapy to prevent the progression of, and potentially reduce the abnormal spinal curvature of scoliosis. Yoga is also a powerful remedy to reduce scoliosis’ symptoms of back pain, muscle tightness, fatigue, and decreased lung capacity.
Yoga’s emphasis on postural alignment and spinal realignment helps to decrease the lateral curves of scoliosis. Using poses such as mountain, thunderbolt, staff, downward dog, tree, triangle and wind relieving pose will elongate and lengthen the spine to bring it back to center.
Twisting poses naturally re-align the spine to help decrease posterior rotation, and thereby improve alignment and balance. When practicing twists, it is important to lengthen the spine first and then carefully move into the twist while maintaining a long torso. Twisting poses as well as forward bends stretch many of the muscles in the back, helping to reduce tension and pain. Using back bends to strengthen the back muscles is important to provide support for a structurally weakened spine. Practice twists, forward and back bending poses that target the area of your spine where the scoliosis is most present.
Yoga poses such as seated head to knee, supine diamond, high lunge, tiger, and pigeon stretch the hamstrings, hip flexors, and quadriceps to create more spinal mobility and strength and also help improve posture.
Chest opening poses as well as yoga’s emphasis on breath awareness within all postures stretches the intercostal muscles (muscles between the ribs) to improve lung capacity and alignment of the ribcage. Practice Dirga Pranayama (3 part breath) by itself as well as throughout your entire yoga practice.
Always maintain a concentrated focus on the alignment of the spine in all poses, and imagine or visualize the spine lengthening and realigning as you hold and breathe in each pose. It is important to not practice any poses that cause any pain or that reproduce or aggravate your symptoms of scoliosis.
A complete list of yoga postures that benefit scoliosis is available at: http://www.yogabasics.com/learn/yoga-poses-for-scoliosis.html