I found out I had scoliosis when I was in junior high and it was devastating. After many doctors’ visits and enough radiation from X-rays to make me lethal, I was finally fitted for a back brace. If you think going through junior high was a nightmare, try hiding a back brace under baggy clothes for three years when you’re trying to look cool and fit in. Good times!
I can look back at junior high now and laugh, but the pain associated with having a curve in my back has haunted me throughout most of my adult life. I think everyone with back pain knows you’re supposed to do stretches and exercises to strengthen your back but let’s face it—we never do.
But I have to tell you, for the first time in my adult life, my back feels great, and I am attributing my victory over pain to my practice of yoga.
When I practice yoga it is one big workout to strengthen my back. Yoga stretches and strengthens the muscles around your spine and lengthens your spine, and this is exactly what I needed to deal with the curvature in my spine caused by the scoliosis. My back pain did not go away overnight; it took a while for the benefits of my yoga practice to take effect, but it is so worth it.
I recently did the 50-minute Yoga for Scoliosis DVD workout with Elise Browning Miller. Elise has been teaching yoga since 1976 and has successfully used it to minimize the effects of her own scoliosis. In the DVD she has four additional people practice with her who also have various forms of scoliosis. Elise does an excellent job of pointing out different adjustments that can be made to each pose to deal with the various curvatures of the spine.
The practice is taught in the method of yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar and includes information and an interview with an orthopedic surgeon. If you are new to yoga, this is a great DVD, providing helpful instructions for each pose. The practice is made up of three parts:
Part 1: Breathing and spinal-lengthening poses (16 minutes); these are great basic poses to lengthen the spine.
Part 2: Centering and strengthening poses (18 minutes); includes standing poses, back-strengthening poses, and twists.
Part 3: Restorative, releasing, and relaxing poses (16 minutes); relaxing poses to derotate the spine and align the hips.
And my favorite part: it ends with Savasana. There’s also a bonus section with six additional postures done with props (wall stretch, down dog, shoulder stretch, warrior 1 with wall, chair twist, and 3-part pull).
If you have scoliosis or back pain and have never tried yoga, I highly recommend this informative and helpful yoga DVD. It provides a great introduction to the practice and has all the best poses that have helped me tremendously in eliminating back pain and improving my posture. Plus, it beats the alternatives. Who wants to take painkillers or have surgery when you can work out the kinks in your back on a yoga mat?