YOGA FOR SCOLIOSIS
Below are ten yoga poses from Veronika's Scoli Yoga Challenge. These poses aim to improve your spine's flexibility and mobility. You should consult your physician or other health care professional before starting this or any other fitness program to determine if it is right for your needs. Please do not practice these poses if your physician or health care provider advises against it. If you experience faintness, dizziness, pain or shortness of breath at any time while exercising, you should stop immediately.
1. CAT COW
The cat-cow pose is a great basic pose for mobilizing and stretching your back.
* Spread your fingers wide
* Push to the ground to engage and stabilize shoulders
* Arms in a 90 degree angle to the floor
* Elbows facing each other
* Knees pushing into the ground
2. CORE STRENGTHENING
This is my absolute favorite CORE strengthening pose! I almost never leave it out in my lessons and my own practice. Practice and enjoy how your core is getting stronger to support your spine !
What to avoid: Bending your neck back, collapsing in shoulder, collapsing in core (lower ribs disconnected and overbending lower back), elbow facing forward, lifting leg over the level of your back, opening hip
What to do: Palm pushing into the ground, elbow turned "inside," engaged shoulder, head in neutral position, square hips, leg in one line with upper body, core connected & engaged (keeping lower ribs in and pelvis plus lower back in neutral position)
3. CHILD POSE
This is a great pose for opening shoulders and lengthening your spine. I am posting my variation, where I do child pose instead of puppy pose. I don't feel very comfortable in the puppy pose, because I have a flat back between my shoulders and hyperlordosis in my lower back. In child pose I can comfortably lengthen my spine while having support for my chest. I "walk" fingertips as far as I can to lengthen and stretch my spine. I stay there for at least 10 breaths which I send along my spine. There's practically nothing you can do wrong in the child pose.
4. DOWNWARD FACING DOG
What to avoid: Bending your neck back, collapsing in shoulder, collapsing in core (lower ribs disconnected and overbending lower back), putting most weight on arms and elbows
What to do: Bend your knees if you need, fingers spread wide, engaged shoulders, head and neck relaxed, core connected & engaged (while keeping lower ribs in, move your weight toward your legs - it will help you to lengthen & stretch your spine)
5. SIDE PLANK
A simple and yet very intense and effective pose. It's awesome for strengthening your core, which will help you to keep your back up. Plus it helps you to open up and strengthen your convex side. Don't forget to practice equally on both sides though
P.S. don't forget to breathe while holding the pose.
6. WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD BEND
I love how intense this pose is and how many benefits it brings you! What I love the most is that it helps to lengthen and stretch the spine, which is always appreciated if one suffers from scoliosis! You can see that my major curve in my lower back is almost gone in the pose. (I have 42 degrees) Plus the pose gives you an intense stretch of the hamstrings.
Here are some tips: Fold from the hips, not waist! Keep your legs and feet engaged. Don't lock your knees (keep them "micro-bent"). If you can't touch the ground, put your palms on a block. If the stretch of hamstrings is too intense for you, bend your knees. Shift weight slightly forward. Completely relax your upper body, head, neck. Draw shoulders away from ears. Inhale: lengthen your spine. Exhale: bring head and torso closer toward the ground and your legs.
7. LOW LUNGE
The low lunge is really great for everyone, as we spend so much time sitting (which is actually not a natural pose for us). Because of that, the psoas gets shorter and tighter and that can cause trouble in the lower back.
8. GATE POSE
All poses where you bend to the side are very beneficial for your back as they help to balance out the scoliosis - they stretch your curve and straighten it a bit for the moment, which helps you to keep your curves flexible and give some relief to the intervertebral discs. It's normal that because of your scoliosis curvature the pose will look and feel different on each side. You can see my difference if you compare the two pictures.
Try to avoid just bending to the side - think of it as a torso lengthening instead. Imagine you want to touch the ceiling with your fingertips on your lifted arm. Keep the length in both sides of your torso while bending slowly.
9. FORWARD BEND POSE
Forward bend pose is my absolutely favorite! I do it literally in every yoga class. It stretches the back side of your whole body. Us with scoliosis can really benefit from the awesome stretch & lengthening of the spine. You can see & compare in the first pic: my x-ray vs my spine in the pose. Like in gate pose, your curves stretch and straighten a bit for the moment, which helps you to keep your curves flexible and give some relief to the inter-vertebral discs. Plus it's a great stretch for hamstrings, as well
10. MODIFIED BRIDGE
Make sure that the block is under your pelvis, not under your spine and lower back. If you still don't feel a nice lengthening stretch in your lower back, you might need to move the block a bit lower (towards your heels). When you feel comfortable, try and inhale several times into your lower back. This will help to release the tension.
Besides from scoliosis, I also have hyperlordosis in my lower back and so the full version of the pose is not my favorite. But I just love the variation I am sharing with you. I do it literally in every yoga class. It is amazing for anyone who suffers from lower back pain. For me and many of my students it has been the best tool how to ease the pain or get rid of it completely.