Teaching Yoga for Scoliosis
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.