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Teaching Yoga for Scoliosis

Yoga can be a powerful healing tool for students with scoliosis. Here's everything you need to know to help them ease their aching backs.

By Elise Browning Miller


Yoga Poses For Lengthening the Spine

Here are some specific asanas that will help your students alleviate discomfort and realign their spines.

When your students begin to practice yoga, the most important movement is lengthening the spine. This movement will create more evenness in the spine and ribs and release tension in the muscles of the back.

Cat/Cow Pose. At the start of a practice period, have your students loosen the spine with the breath to prevent injury, particularly at the apex of the scoliosis. Instruct them to kneel with the hands below the shoulders and the knees below the hips. Have them inhale and lift the head and tailbone, making the lower back concave. Then instruct them to exhale and tuck the tailbone, rounding the back and releasing the neck. Repeat at least 10 times.

Vajrasana (Child's Pose). After they have completed the exhalation in the Cat/Cow Pose, have them stretch the hands out in front. Ask them to inhale deeply into the back, particularly the concave side where the ribs are compressed. Then instruct them to exhale and move the buttocks back halfway toward the heels. When they inhale, ask them to stretch the arms and the pelvis away from each other, with the upper back following the arms and the lower back following the pelvis. Let them breathe into this position, feeling the intercostal muscles stretching between the ribs and the spine and back muscles lengthening. To help stretch the compressed ribs on the concave side, ask them to move the arms toward the convex side, keeping the arms shoulder-width apart. Let them notice how this movement makes the back more even. After letting them breathe into this position for a minute, ask them to move the buttocks all the way back to the heels and relax the arms by their sides, relaxing the entire body.

Three-Part Bar Stretch. Your students may practice this pose at a dance bar or at home on a porch railing, sink, or wherever they can grab onto something and pull.

  1. Ask your students to grab onto the bar with hands shoulder-distance apart and walk the feet back until the spine is parallel to the floor and the feet are directly under the hips. Now instruct them to bring the heels forward to the position where the toes were and hang backwards, bending from the hips and stretching the buttocks away from the bar. Make sure they keep the neck in line with the spine, not allowing the chin to lift up. Ask them to feel the entire spine being lengthened by the pull.


  2. Now have them bring the feet in a few inches toward the bar and bend the knees into a right angle, with the thighs parallel to the floor and the knees directly above the heels. Ask them to continue to stretch the buttocks down and backwards. This particularly stretches the mid-back below and to the sides of the shoulder blades.


  3. Next, instruct them to walk the feet forward a few inches farther to allow the heels to remain on the floor. Tell them to let the buttocks move down toward the floor in a squat. Now have them pull back, keeping the buttocks down, and feel the lower spine being stretched.

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Reader Comments

Tori

Thankyou! This was very useful for me

tracey

can you send me some information on scoliosis because i'm doing a term paper on it thanks Tracey
traceymorrissey@hotmail.com

Chris

Sarah,

I thought this info might help your hubby enjoy yoga a little more...

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