Scoliosis is a sometimes excruciating spinal condition in which your back forms an unusual curvature. Doctors remain unsure exactly why it happens but suspect hereditary factors. The disorder also strikes those who have congenital disabilities or other neuromuscular conditions.
The ancient art of yoga can ease your pain and improve your quality of life. It can also work to correct the muscular imbalances that occur when your posture is out of whack. Here are five tips and pointers for starting your practice.
1. Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor is your first stop. While scoliosis is rarely deadly, a severe curvature can pressure your internal organs like your heart and lungs, making it challenging to breathe. Attempting challenging postures like Marichyasana D could cause uncomfortable constriction.
Breathing is key to any yogic practice. Your doctor can suggest posture modifications to inhale and exhale more comfortably. They can also instruct you on how various postures affect your curve. While your yoga guide has anatomy training, it usually isn’t the equivalent of medical school.
Your physician is also your go-to with questions about wearing your brace during practice. You might find it more comfortable at first, but it could grow too restrictive as your muscles strengthen.
2. Select the Right Style
If your first experience with yoga is to take a hardcore Ashtanga class, few people would blame you for heading for the door, saying, “no thanks.” Fortunately, not every yoga form involves vigorous movements like jumping back into a plank, a move that could hurt your lower back if you don’t use perfect form.
Some forms of yoga barely require you to leave the floor or even your bed. For example, yin classes hold poses for three to five minutes to allow for deeper connective tissue opening. Restorative classes might maintain a posture for up to 20 minutes, but you’re not balancing on one leg – you perform most moves lying down or seated.
Here are some other styles you might encounter:
- Vinyasa: This invigorating yoga form focuses on continuous motion and coordinating your breath and body. It’s a fabulous cardiovascular workout.
- Hatha: This style combines basic vinyasa flows with static poses you hold for a considerable time. Power yoga classes are a form of hatha yoga that concentrates on building strength by holding positions like warrior for extended periods.
- Bikram: Bikram yoga follows many of the same postures used in athletic Ashtanga – only in a room heated to 105°F at 40% humidity. Hot yoga is a variation that doesn’t use the precise flow.
- Kundalini: This yoga form focuses less on physical movement and more on breath work and chanting to align your chakras, which run along your spine.
3. Find the Right Guide
Most yoga guides enter the field out of a genuine desire to help others – there’s a strong spiritual aspect to the practice even if you’re not a Buddhist or adhere to Taoism. However, some instructors understand the unique needs of the chronic pain community more than others.
Ask your instructor about their experience working with others with painful conditions. You’re in luck if you find someone who used their practice to recover from a spinal disorder, as they’re often well-acquainted with modifications for various poses that can make them more comfortable.
4. Use Props
Many yoga kits come with blocks and straps for a good reason. You can use them to enhance your practice, guiding your body into poses it might not otherwise comfortably reach.
However, please don’t limit yourself to only the equipment that comes with your mat. Pillows also make fabulous tools. You can use them to prop your hips during a bridge pose or support your chest for a more comfortable cobra or yin-style sphinx.
5. Take an Anti-Inflammatory
Scoliosis can strain joints and aggravate nerves, leading to inflammation. Furthermore, it causes your muscles to carry an unusual workload, fatiguing them and leading to further swelling.
Try taking an anti-inflammatory OTC medication or using a natural anti-inflammatory aid about a half-hour to an hour before your practice. Turmeric has fantastic natural anti-inflammatory properties, and you can make a delicious golden milk recipe using turmeric paste.
Part of yoga entails teaching your muscles that it’s safe to stretch, but they can’t do that if your brain sends pain messages saying it’s not. Easing inflammation helps you get into poses more readily, promoting tissue healing.
Tips for Practicing Yoga With Scoliosis
Scoliosis can sometimes cause excruciating pain. Although scientists don’t know exactly what causes it, they know that holistic measures can help ease the ache. Follow the tips and pointers above for starting your yoga practice with scoliosis. This ancient art can help you realign and retrain your muscles and achieve considerable pain relief.