Spinal cord or backbone is made up of small bones stacked on one another. Ideally, when you take an X-ray of backbone, ensure your posture is straight. If your X-ray shows that your spine is in a curvature like a letter S or C, it is called Scoliosis. This is a prevalent condition. Most people experiencing scoliosis do not even know that they have it. However, for people with a significant S or C curve formation, it can be hard to ignore as it is very painful.
The pain can also be experienced in hips or knees apart from the back as scoliosis causes hips to be uneven making legs shorter. The complete symmetry of your body changes. More often doctors suggest that the patient undergoes surgery for getting relief. But here we have a much easier solution – Yoga.
Yoga for Scoliosis can work wonders by improving the condition in months, after which you wouldn’t require surgery. Read more to find out the asanas that will help you achieve this.
A Brief About Scoliosis and Yoga
Facts: If you think that yoga is useless or may take years to treat your condition then you are wrong. Extensive research has established that yoga(1) poses when practiced for 90 seconds, three times a week in a stretch can reduce your spine curvature in less than three months.
A group of researchers including Dr. Loren Fishman from the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons (P & S) in New York, publish their findings in the journal Global Advances in Health and Medicine where they established the above findings.
Scoliosis(2) is more common amidst children of the age group 10-15, and you would be stunned to know that around 30,000 of adolescents and children each year get detected with scoliosis and must wear a brace for approximately 23 hours in a day. 10.7% of women have Scoliosis along with 5.6% of men between the ages of 25 and 74.
Several easy yoga poses for scoliosis can help patients in strengthening their core muscles, decreasing pain and improvement in their life. Yoga postures when combined with an awareness of breath, can create more symmetry and correct alignment in the body.
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Is It Even Possible to Cure Scoliosis through Yoga?
Yoga treats scoliosis mainly through exercises and physical postures. The focus of yoga in treating scoliosis is to minimize the pain by correcting the structural alignment. Yoga achieves this by:
- Lengthening the spine.
- Relieving some pain in the spine by strengthening legs.
- Treating the back by strengthening core muscles.
- Improving structural alignment by breathing techniques.
Yoga(3) improves posture and muscle strength when practiced daily under a trained teacher. In the same research, Dr. Fishman suggests that practicing side plank poses for an average of 6.8 months reduces the curvature by strengthening the primary curve’s convex side, asymmetrically.
[Read: Yoga Poses for Hip Pain]
5 Yoga Poses for Scoliosis to Help you Get a Straightened Back
Here are some poses that could help treat scoliosis.
Virabhadrasana or the Warrior pose brings courage, peace, and grace to the human body. It strengthens the lower back and brings stability to our body. It is commonly known as warrior pose. Here is a step-by-step procedure to perform this asana:
- Start by standing in Mountain Pose.
- Keep your legs 4 feet apart.
- Raise your arms so that they are parallel to floor and turn head to the left.
- Now turn in such a way that your left foot is 90 degrees to the left.
- Bend your left knee.
- The angle of arms and hips should be the same, i.e. 180 degrees.
- Stay in this posture for 30-60 seconds.
- Relax and go back to the starting position.
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Trikonasana helps in getting the spine stretched and restores mental balance. Trikonasana corrects spinal curvature by reducing stress and back pain. It is commonly known as Trikonasana. Here is how you do it:
- Stand and keep your legs 3-4 feet apart.
- Extend your arms to the shoulder level.
- while inhaling, raise your right arm to the side of the head.
- Exhale and bend your right arm towards the left side. Body weight should be equal on both feet. Ensure that the right arm is parallel to the ground.
- Inhale and exhale in this position.
- Follow the same procedure with the left arm.
- Perform 3 to 5 rounds of Trikonasana.
- Return to the first position.
Marjariasana improves circulation of blood, gives more flexibility to the spine, and helps in relaxing the mind. It is also known as Cat pose. Here is how you do it:
- Start with a tabletop position on a flat surface.
- Your knees should be perpendicular to the ground, below your hips. Elbows, wrist, and hips should be perpendicular to the floor.
- Place your hand at the back positioning it parallel to the floor.
- Exhale and push your spine upwards.
- Bend neck downwards and maintain a natural posture.
- Hold breath for five to 10 seconds.
- Inhale and come back to starting position.
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This asana relaxes the spine and calms down the nerves. This yoga pose is ideal for people with scoliosis or spinal curvature. Here is how you do it.
- Sit on your heels on a floor.
- Place hands on the thigh or the floor and keep the knees together.
- Slowly, exhale and bend forward, lowering your forehead to touch the floor.
- Face your palms down and reach out your arms frontwards.
- Gently press chest on thighs and hold for a minute.
- Inhale from your navel and pull it towards the spine. Exhale and soften your arms and body.
- Breathe and do about 4-12 sets.
- While relaxing from this position, place your arms under the shoulder and gradually return to the sitting position.
This yoga pose reduces stress on the lower back and stretches it. Paschimottanasana treats scoliosis and relaxes mind by reducing stress and fatigue. Here is how you do it:
- Sit erect on the floor with legs in front, stretched out, with the toes bending towards you.
- Raise arms overhead and stretch while inhaling.
- Bend forward and make sure to move your ching towards toes while exhaling.
- Stretch your arms out letting them reach your toes. Do not stretch too far.
- Inhale. Slightly lift your head while elongating the spine.
- Exhale, moving your navel towards knees.
- Repeat for a few times and hold the pose.
- Inhale and come back with arms stretched out, to the sitting position.
- Exhale and lower your arms.
- Relax and come back to the starting position.
NOTE: If you are wondering how long to hold yoga poses? know that is an alternative therapy- the more you do, the more benefits it yields.
Which Yoga Poses Worsen Scoliosis?
Some yoga poses for scoliosis can also adversely affect the human body and worsen scoliosis. Here are some scoliosis exercises to avoid.
Back-bending postures destabilize the area by flattening the thoracic spine which can worsen scoliosis.
Twisting the torso
Twisting the torso aggravates rib arching. This rib arch increases the existing curvature regardless of whether the rotation is left or right.
Bending the Rib Cage
Bending the rib cage forwards, backward or sideways should all be avoided. If you try to open the scoliotic curve, it results in curvature above and below the curve.
While practicing this yoga pose, the pressure exerted on the shoulders can increase a rib hump formation drastically.
[Read: Relieve Back Pain with Massage]
Do’s and Don’ts while Practicing Yoga for Scoliosis
Here are a few things to remember before you start practicing yoga for scoliosis:
- If you are experiencing severe pain because of scoliosis, do not try inversion poses as they compress the spine instead of elongating it.
- Take things easy and do not get stressed by the degree of curvature of your spine while doing yoga.
- If you find it hard to stretch or bend too much on one side, do not do that. Take it slowly, day by day, and with practice, it may become a lot easier.
- Keep yourself hydrated always.
- Always talk to the doctor beforehand so that you understand your problem correctly.
Yoga is a blessing for people who have scoliosis as it reduces the pain drastically. The curvature changes with regular yoga practices and you can even avoid surgery eventually. As various studies suggest, yoga treats patients who have scoliosis effectively in very less time. There are zero side effects. Practice yoga regularly and you will never get disappointed.