Yoga for Scoliosis: 8 Ways to Use Yoga as a Treatment for Scoliosis

Dr. Andrew Strauss
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As a scoliosis expert who has treated thousands of patients, I am regularly asked whether yoga can be an effective treatment for scoliosis.

Having scoured the world for the most effective natural scoliosis treatments, I can confidently answer yes. Yoga can be an effective way to stabilize and reverse scoliosis curves, as well as reduce scoliosis pain.
 

What You Should Know Before Diving Into Scoliosis Yoga

Scoliosis is an unusual condition, in that each person with scoliosis will have a unique postural distortion.

That’s why an individual should consider their specific condition before attempting a generic one-size-fits-all approach for scoliosis yoga. For example, you may be improving one aspect of the curve at the expense of another area of the curve.
 
A more realistic approach is to have a specialized yoga for scoliosis program developed by a practitioner who is familiar with both yoga and scoliosis.
 
When yoga poses for scoliosis are done properly, no damage will take place AND the practitioner will be able to accomplish a specific, rehabilitative goal with each yoga posture.
 
 

But First – A Few Words of Caution

One thing you may have heard is that doing the wrong type of yoga practice can actually make your scoliosis worse, and this can be true. There are certain precautions that people with scoliosis should take before diving into a yoga practice.
 
My website contains many illuminating articles about precautions to take before beginning a yoga routine if you suffer from scoliosis. If you are a beginner at yoga, I recommend you reference these articles here.
 

Now We’re Ready to Get Into the Yoga Practice for Scoliosis

Assuming I am now speaking to yogis and yoginis that are familiar with yoga and at an intermediate or higher level of practice, here is some direction toward excellent postures to include in your practice.
 

My best advice? Be careful!

 
It is best to develop your practice in conjunction with a healthcare professional who is expert in both scoliosis and yoga. Like the surgeon’s knife can cure or kill, yoga must be practiced with knowledge, skill, and discrimination.
 
Yoga is powerful . . . it can bring incredible benefit and unfortunately, can also be damaging if used incorrectly!
 
 

Practice These Yoga Poses for Scoliosis:

 

1. The Warrior Poses

Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 are both lunging poses that help release the constricted psoas muscles. The Iliopsoas muscle becomes contracted with a lumbar scoliosis.
 
Warrior 1
warrior-1-scoliosis
 
Warrior 2
warrior-2
 
Elongation of the psoas relieves tension and will de-rotate your spine. Typically it is the left psoas that is contractured, but see what your body says . . . you may have an atypical scoliosis and find your right psoas contracted.
 
Want a refresher on the differences in alignment between Warrior 1 and Warrior 2? Check out Common Misalignments in Warrior 1 and Warrior 2 and How to Fix Them
 
Warrior 3
Standing splits scoliosis
 
 

2. Balancing Core Strengtheners

The research on scoliosis is conclusive that a strong core is very protective to the spine and benefits all people with scoliosis, especially adults.
 
Strengthening your core is easy in yoga – there are a wide variety of core strengthening poses that will in turn help fortify and protect the spinal column.
 
Ustrasana (Camel Pose)
Camel-pose-scoliosis
 
Salabhasana (Locust Pose)
bow-pose-scoliosis
 
Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (Upward Extended Legs Pose)
legs-up-the-wall-scoliosis
 
Add movement to increase core challenge
scissors-soliosis
 

3. Hamstring and Calf Stretches

By lengthening the muscles that run from the achilles tendon to the pelvis, you are improving the resilience of the low back and pelvis which helps you in movements or actions that require lifting, twisting and bending.
 
While there are many poses that stretch out the hamstrings and calves, I recommend you practice Janu Sirsasana (Head-to-Knee Forward Bend).

head-to-knee-forward-bend
 
Have really tight hamstrings? Practice These 5 Poses for Tight Hamstrings and Gain Flexibility
 
 

4. Upper Back Stretching and Strengthening

When combined with a scoliosis-specific exercise program, yoga poses that are strengthening for the upper back are excellent. You also want to practice poses that help stretch the upper spine.
 
For upper back stretching and strengthening, I recommend practicing Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose) and Bharadvajasana (Seated Spinal Twist).
 
cowface-pose-scoliosis
 
seated-twist-scoliosis
 
 

5. Pranayama Breathwork

If your scoliosis involves your upper back (thoracic spine) and is above 60 degrees Cobb angle, you will likely have restriction of your rib cage and the resulting limitation in full breathing.
 
Ujjayi Pranayama (Ocean Breath – one form of Pranayama, or conscious breathwork) accompanied with Uddiyana Bandha (or your abdominal lock) is an excellent practice.
 
For more guidance on Pranayama, read our Beginner’s Guide to Ujjayi Breathing
 
Poses that encourage full lung expansion can also help increase lung function. Incorporating Uddiyana Bandha will focus your breath upwards into your chest, which in turn increases the effect of the breath work.
 
For more guidance on what the bandhas are and how to activate them in your yoga practice, check out What Are the Bandhas? How to Engage Them to Enhance Your Yoga Practice
 

6. Planking Poses

These poses can be beneficial if you know the pattern of your curve! Chaturanga Dandasana, or Low Plank pose, is an excellent Plank variation to practice.
 
plank-pose-and-chaturanga-scoliosis
 

7. Corpse Pose

Savasana, or Corpse Pose, allows you to tune into your spine and posture. Increasing your body awareness will lead to spontaneously improving your posture and assist in active self-correction maneuvers.
 
shavasana-scoliosis
 

Incorporate Yoga Into Your Routine to Help Your Scoliosis

The best way to use your yoga practice for scoliosis is to combine your routine with professional specialized care to fully manage your condition.
 
A scoliosis doctor who understands yoga (or exercise therapies generally) can determine the classification, modifiers, and level of curvature in your spine and then work with you to develop an appropriate pose selection.
 
Thank you for reading my article on yoga for scoliosis. As a special gift for YogiApproved readers, I would like to offer you a free copy of my ebook. It provides a comprehensive overview of natural scoliosis treatments, including yoga. Please enter your email below to receive it.
 

 

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Dr. Andrew Strauss

A crusader for parents and children, Dr. Andrew Strauss has traveled the world to advance the field of non-invasive scoliosis therapy. With over 3 decades of experience, he continues to advocate for the advancement of scoliosis biomechanics. Dr. Strauss has made it his passion and purpose to make spinal stability a reality for thousands of people from all over the world.

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