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Will Yoga Work for Scoliosis Patients?

mountain yoga pose

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  • By practicing yoga, scoliosis patients may be able to stretch out overworked muscles, strengthen weak muscles, train the body's muscular system to support the spine in a healthier and more aligned way
  • Yoga has the potential to promote body awareness by emphasizing on proper breathing techniques

According to YogaUOnline, scoliosis patients can benefit from doing yoga as an alternative and complementary approach to addressing discomfort caused by the disease, whether on a physical or physiological level. Imbalanced muscular strain caused by scoliosis adjusting the body into an asymmetrical way of holding itself is a common problem among patients.1

By practicing yoga, scoliosis patients may be able to stretch out overworked muscles, strengthen weak muscles, train the body's muscular system to support the spine in a healthier and more aligned way and stretch out the spine and relieve pressure on the vertebrae and surrounding bones and tissue.

Scoliosis patients should also consider yoga because it can cultivate a more effortless posture that'll help support bone structure instead of straining the muscles. Increased muscle balance and strength and body awareness allow scoliosis patients practicing yoga to discover their own optimal alignment.

Lastly, yoga has the potential to promote body awareness by emphasizing on proper breathing techniques. An increased connection to physiologies can allow patients to discover how they can work with, rather than against, their bodies.

Body Parts to Focus on While Practicing Yoga

When doing yoga poses for scoliosis, there are six body parts to focus on. These are important for creating proper alignment, decreasing pain and minimizing further curvature of the spine:2

Feet and legs: Placing equal weight on both feet and being aware of imbalances is a must.

By strengthening the legs, you create a solid foundation that’ll help the spine stretch and free itself, and allow the legs, instead of the spine, to carry the body’s weight.

Spine: Scoliosis tends to affect the spine, so patients must focus on lengthening the spine to reduce the S curve.

Psoas (major and minor): These muscles are the principal flexors of the thigh, and a pair of muscles is found on each side of the body.

The psoas come from the iliacus muscle and along the vertebral column, and join to insert on the lesser trochanter muscle of the femur.

The psoas and the iliacus form a unit called the ilopsoas that flexes the thigh and serves as an important postural muscle.

The ilopsoas balances your torso when you sit down and counteracts the tendency of the torso to fall behind the line of gravity, which passes just at the back of your hip joints, when you stand up.

A well-toned ilopsoas muscle helps align the lower limbs with the torso and frees the spine.

Scapula: Dropping the shoulder blades down from the ears and drawing them in toward the front of the body can be helpful in inhibiting the upper back from rounding (a common problem among scoliosis patients).

In order for this movement to be possible, it's important to develop increased flexibility of the muscles surrounding the shoulder blades.

Abdominal muscles: Weak abdominal muscles can prompt the back muscles to overwork and tighten. In extreme cases, it can cause a condition called lordosis, characterized by an extreme curve of the lower back, particularly on the concave side of the lower back.

Breath: Awareness of breath is important while doing the poses. Usually, very little air enters the lung on the concave side of the spine.

Sending your breath into the collapsed rib cage on this side can stretch the intercostal muscles and create more lung capacity. As a result, openness and evenness on both sides of the chest, from the inside out, can develop.

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Beginner Yoga Poses for Scoliosis Patients

Carrie DeVries of Spine-health suggests these four beginner yoga poses for scoliosis patients. However, before attempting to do any of these, consult your physician or doctor first and get the go signal to do these exercises.3

Scoliosis patients can also talk to a physical therapist or a yoga instructor who work with people with these kinds of conditions, since they may be able to guide patients on the proper form and technique needed, assist in creating modifications for some poses and help with preventing further injuries. Once you’re ready, try practicing these yoga poses slowly and easily:

Mountain Pose: This pose, which requires you to stand tall and steady like a mountain, can help with balance and core strength.

  1. Stand with your big toes touching and your heels slightly separated. Relax the shoulders and allow your arms to hang relaxed by your sides.
  2. Close your eyes and envision yourself firmly planted on the ground. Concentrate on your feet.
  3. Lift up on to the balls of your feet, and then your toes. Distribute weight evenly across your feet.
  4. Settle back down flat and find your balance. Afterwards, fan out your toes.
  5. Engage your thigh muscles but don’t lock your knees.
  6. Lift your pelvic bone slightly toward your navel. Keep your chin parallel to the floor and relax your shoulders, while letting your arms hang naturally.
  7. Relax your facial muscles and make slow and fluid breaths.
  8. Shift your weight to your left foot and continue with the tree pose.

Tree Pose: Another type of standing pose, the tree pose can aid with improving posture, strengthening core, promoting overall balance and reducing stress.

  1. After the mountain pose, shift your weight to the left foot.
  2. With your right hand, reach down and grab your right ankle. Lift your right foot up and place the sole of your foot against your left thigh. If you can’t reach up to the thigh, try pushing your foot against your calf instead.
  3. Stretch and lengthen your spine. Draw the pelvic bone inward and point your tailbone toward the floor.
  4. Place your palms together in front of your chest and move your shoulder blades together.
  5. Gaze forward and take slow and steady breaths. Repeat on the other side.

Cat/Cow Pose: This can open up the spaces between the vertebrae and stretch the muscles and tendons supporting the spine.

  1. Kneel with your hands below your shoulders and your knees below your hips. This is also known as the table top pose position.
  2. Look down towards your yoga mat and spread the fingers. Don’t forget to engage your abdominal muscles.
  3. As you inhale, lift your head and tailbone, making your lower back concave.
  4. As you exhale, tuck your tailbone, release your neck and drop your head while rounding your back.

Child’s Pose: This relaxing pose is for everyone, and is best done after the cat/cow pose.

  1. Begin by sitting on your heels.
  2. Stretch the arms and hands out in front of you.
  3. Bend your upper body forward and lower your chest close to your knees.
  4. Continue to stretch your arms forward. Now, breathe deeply and relax as you feel the back and spine muscles lengthening.
  5. Relax the entire body.


Scoliosis: Introduction

What is Scoliosis?

Types of Scoliosis

Severe Scoliosis

Scoliosis Symptoms

Dealing with Scoliosis-Related Pain

Scoliosis Causes

Scoliosis Side Effects

Scoliosis Treatment

Scoliosis Back Braces

Yoga for Scoliosis

Exercises for Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis Surgeries

Scoliosis Prevention

Diet for Scoliosis Patients

Scoliosis FAQ

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