Yoga Therapy 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.

Conditions that cause spinal stenosis include infection, tumors, trauma, herniated disc, arthritis, thickening of ligaments and growth of bone spurs. Spinal stenosis most commonly occurs in older individuals as a result of vertebral and disk degeneration.

Yoga’s ability to correct posture, improve vertebral alignment and increase range of motion makes it an excellent therapy to reduce the symptoms of spinal stenosis and curb its further progression.

With 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 such as mountain, staff, bound angle, downward dog, joyful baby and wind relieving pose.

It is important to not practice any poses that reproduce or aggravate the symptoms of stenosis as this can damage the spinal nerves and increase inflammation.

A complete list of yoga postures that benefit stenosis is now available in our premium yoga therapy section.

Comments 11

  1. would like to see your info on positions for stenosis, can’t afford you at the moment, thanks anyway.

  2. I can’t find this article on the site even with my premium membership. Please assist.

  3. How to access the list of poses for stenosis grom therapy section.
    I tried above site as you suggested but no luck.
    In therapy section list stops at letter ‘P’ (PMS therapy)(from A to P)
    No way to go beyond P say to S for Stenosis. Thanks for your time.

  4. I have lumber canal stenosis L-4-5.Please suggest me. I shall be highly oblise to you forever.

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  5. I have severe spinal stenosis (L4 – S1). Consulted with 3 doctors from 3 different medical institutions and all 3 concurred that I would eventually need surgery (rods & screws). Would a beginners yoga be helpful in reducing my pain and if so, which exercises would you recommend I avoid. Thank you, kp

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      Hi Kristina, I’ve had several students over the years with rods in their spines who have found yoga to be very helpful. It will be best to consult with your doctors after surgery to know when you can start yoga and what movements you should avoid.

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