Practice Basics: Scoliosis

  1. Repeat asymmetrical poses a second time on the more difficult side, or hold for longer. For example, in side bending, spend more time bending away from the short side and toward the long side. (Loren Fishman, who conducted the research noted above points out that practicing side plank on both sides would negate its effects, and he believes that practicing asymmetrically in the case of scoliosis is relatively safe.)
  2. In side bending, focus on creating length and encouraging a neutral spine.
  3. In rotation, keep hips and shoulders level.
  4. Strengthen core and back-stabilizing muscles such as the multifidus and erector spinae which support the spine and help promote alignment.
  5. Emphasize Side Bends to encourage elasticity of the muscles between the ribs.
  6. Incorporate breathing practices to improve lung capacity. Improving lung capacity will tend to improve energy levels.  A practice such as The Three Part Breath is a great choice as it’s a simple technique that enhances slow and deep diaphragmatic breathing.
  7. The use of yoga props can aid in gentle lengthening and release of tight and shortened structures. Restorative Yoga or Yin Yoga combined with breath awareness may be beneficial for helping deep tissue release.


Asymmetrical Practice is Key

Reversing this asymmetrical condition requires an asymmetrical means. Muscle strength seems to be the key. It is true that doing the side plank on one side only could cause new or other asymmetrical problems to develop in the wrist and the shoulder or rarely in the sacroiliac joint. But doing the pose on both sides would utterly nullify the process of asymmetrical strengthening that Vasisthasana (side plank) initiates. The side plank should be done daily on one side, only with the convex side of the lumbar curve downward, for as long as possible each time. – Loren Fishman

Alignment is for Relieving Discomfort

Do what feels right and set small goals, keeping in mind that there is nothing ugly or wrong about your essential physical composition… Feeling “at home” in my body is a choice I had to make, and my constant postural self-adjustment continues on. However, the corporal awareness yoga has instilled in me has helped not only to address discomfort in the physical sense, but also to correct some misconceptions I had internalized over the years of how one “ought” to stand tall. – John Zadroga