Do you have scoliosis?  You may have been diagnosed as an adolescent, but don’t rule out the possibility if not.  A 2013 Article in the New York Times, titled, “Scoliosis Can Hit Well Past Adolescence,” reported that “…a study by orthopedists at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn of 75 healthy volunteers older than age 60, fully 68 percent had deformities that met the definition of scoliosis.”  

You may be surprised to learn that there are two types of scoliosis; structural – meaning the structure of the spine is affected and functional or non-structural meaning there is an imbalance of the functioning of the muscles around the spine. If you have back pain that shows up more on one side, you may have an asymmetry that would meet the definition of scoliosis.  How or when did that happen? This can be caused by repetitive movement to one side – think golf, tennis, even carrying a baby on one hip, or poor postural habits.  

Now for the good news.  Yoga is more becoming a treatment option and recognized by prominent doctors, chiropractors and physical or massage therapists to manage the effects of scoliosis.  Yoga alleviates pain, helps you find more symmetry in the spine and surrounding muscles and improves postural health. 

In June, 2019, I attended a 5-day training on Yoga for Back-care and Scoliosis with Elise Miller as a first step in becoming certified as a Yoga for Scoliosis teacher.

Elise is a Senior Iyengar Yoga teacher with a right thoracic/left lumbar scoliosis. In the 70’s she received a recommendation that she should undergo surgery to correct her scoliosis. Life took a different turn when she got a second opinion and was encouraged to try yoga.  Elise was fortunate to meet BKS Iyengar and study directly with him. 

Elise demonstrating – that’s her curve on the t-shirt!

She states:  “In all of the yoga I had done previously, no one had adjusted me or given me a sense of what alignment felt like.  His [Iyengar’s] adjustments and instructions on alignment in the poses gave me a tremendous relief from the pain…..I came out of the workshop feeling more balanced than I had ever felt in my life.”  (Yoga for Scoliosis, Elise Browning Miller and Nancy DL Heraty, 2016)

Through years of dedicated practice, working with Iyengar’s innovative teaching of yoga postures and creative use of props, Elise has managed her curvature to relieve pain and avoid surgery.  Read Elise’s story and more here.

Over the next several months, I’ll be continuing this work and study to pursue becoming a Yoga for Scoliosis teacher.  This involves a practicum/case studies working individually with clients with scoliosis to develop a regular practice of yoga poses to address their scoliosis, documenting and submitting those studies to Elise. 

As I deepen my understanding of this important work, please reach out if you have scoliosis or back-pain and let’s find out if yoga is a helpful tool for you to explore.