Yoga Exercises for Scoliosis
Yoga exercises continue to attract the attention of people with scoliosis. They’re not a substitute for doctor-prescribed treatments, although they do appear to be a good adjuvant when it comes to reducing pain and improving quality of life.
In fact, research supports the health benefits of yoga exercise and reveals they also help correct the curvature and reduce muscle weakening. The most important thing is to know how to do them properly, preferably under the supervision of a professional in this field.
Scoliosis refers to a lateral deviation of the spine that could be either C or S-shaped. It often occurs during the growth process, before puberty, and affects 3% of teenagers, as detailed by the Mayo Clinic.
The exact cause of this condition is still unknown; however, it can be due to birth defects, neuromuscular diseases, spinal injuries, and infections, among others. In addition to the curvature of the spine, other symptoms may include:
- Misaligned shoulders
- One shoulder blade more prominent than the other
- Uneven waistline, one side seems higher than the other
- Ribs that stick out more on one side than the other
Scoliosis is asymptomatic in some people so it often goes unnoticed. However, many cases evolve and begin to manifest with certain symptoms over time. In view of this, and once there’s a confirmed diagnosis, the physician may suggest various types of treatments, among them:
- Immobilization devices
- Surgery (in severe cases)
- Chiropractic manipulation
The health benefits of yoga exercises for scoliosis
This is one of many treatments for scoliosis. It’s not a first-line option though, only an adjunct. Certain yoga exercises seem to help correct abnormal spinal curvature and strengthen the muscles in this area.
A case report published in Global Advances in Health and Medicine indicates that patients with scoliosis who practiced a single yoga posture for one to two minutes a day, six days a week, significantly reduced spinal deviation over a period of 6 to 8 months.
In particular, these patients were able to strengthen the lumbar square of the side convex, transverse abdominals, obliques, and other muscle groups by doing the side plank pose. This, in turn, helped reduce spinal curvature by 32%.
Now, data from a study published in the Journal of International Medical Research suggests that yoga, by contributing to core strengthening, helps decrease the severity of functional scoliosis, corrects posture, and improves balance.
Recommended yoga exercises for scoliosis
Yoga exercises recommended for scoliosis include poses that don’t overload the spine. In general, you can do them at home; however, you should try to start doing them under the supervision of a professional first. This is because a wrong move could worsen the problem.
1. Mountain pose or Tadasana
- Firstly, stand on the mat with your thumbs touching each other and the outside of your feet parallel
- Relax your arms and hands at the sides of the body, palms facing up
- Keep your neck straight and your chin elevated
- Breath deeply (your chest expands and your shoulders open, giving you a feeling of spaciousness as you do this)
- Close your eyes and take 10 slow, deep breaths
2. Tree pose or Vrksasana
- From the mountain pose, bring your gaze to a fixed point to seek balance
- Then, raise the left foot to the inside of the right thigh, so that the toes are pointing to the floor
- Hold the pose for 20 to 30 seconds and change feet
Learn about Four Stretches that’ll Help Correct Your Posture
3. Yoga exercises for scoliosis – side plank or Vasisthasana posture
- To begin, adopt the plank position (lean face down on the tips of your feet and hands, with the rest of your body upright)
- Then transfer your weight to your left hand and the end of your left foot (so that your right foot is on top of your left foot)
- Raise your right arm toward the ceiling and lift your hips off the floor; then hold for 15 to 20 seconds, take a deep breath and move to the opposite side
4. Cat pose or Marjaryasana
- Firstly, stand on all fours facing the floor, with your spine in a neutral position
- Be sure to place your hands just below your shoulders, with your fingers facing forward
- The legs must be parallel and the toes facing backward
- From this position, take slow exhalations and, simultaneously, direct the coccyx downward; then, move the navel towards the spine, tucking in your chin and directing your gaze towards your knees
- Then, inhale as you move the tailbone upwards, arching your back towards your belly, lift your head, and look straight ahead
- Do 8 to 10 repetitions
Finally, these yoga exercises are good enough to get you started in this discipline but there are many others. Seek the help of an instructor to learn more about it. Also, try to do them in a quiet space, away from noise and distractions in order to enjoy more relaxing sessions.