Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sequence for Scoliosis - Guest Post by Suburban Yogini

This is a guest post by the lovely Rachel of Suburban Yogini.  As a fellow scoliosis-sufferer, I asked Rachel, with her experience at therapeutic yoga, to put together a short-but-sweet sequence for the spine that could be practiced daily to help relieve some of the discomforts caused by scoliosis.  You can read a bit more about her own experience with scoliosis here.

Yoga teacher Elise Browning Miller is one of the most recognized experts on the subject of yoga and scoliosis.  You can visit her website here for lots of helpful information on the different types and origins of scoliosis.  She has also written a number of articles for Yoga Journal on the subject: here is one about yoga and scoliosis, and here is one about teaching students with scoliosis.

So, on to our sequence, with a few wise words from Suburban Yogini's blog: "Yoga practice for back problems of any kind, or scoliosis specifically, should always be undertaken with a qualified teacher who understands the back problem and in conjunction with advice from a physical therapist. This said, yoga practice by its very nature will strengthen and stretch the back muscles and focus the mind on lengthening the spine."


Yoga Sequence for Scoliosis

Begin sitting back on the heels, spine nice and straight, tail bone tucked under.  Place one hand on the chest and one hand on the lower belly and observe the breath and the movement of the breath under the hands for a few moments until the breath has become steady soft and even.  Begin to visualise the breath moving up and down the spine from the sacrum to the crown of the head on an inhale, from the crown of the head to the sacrum on an exhale.  Visualise the spine as strong, straight and long.  Keep this visualisation in mind throughout your practice.

 1: Child's pose to Downward-facing dog
(Repeat 5 times)

Come into childs pose. As you inhale come to tabletop and exhale into Down Dog.  Inhale tabletop and exhale child's pose.  Repeat five times holding the final down dog for five breaths and the final child for as long as you need.

2: Warrior I and Parsvottanasana
(Repeat 3 times on each side)

When you are ready come to standing.  Turn the left foot out slightly and take a big step forward with the right foot.  Make sure that both hips are pointing to the front of your mat.  Exhale the hands into prayer position.  

Inhale bending the front knee and stretching the arms up into a modified Warrior 1.  Make sure that you look straight ahead rather than up as we are trying to keep the spine straight. Exhale fold forward over the front leg, keeping that front knee bent and the back heel down. Inhale the arms out to the side and back into modified Warrior 1. Exhale straighten the front knee and bring the hands back into prayer position. Repeat 3 times to each side.

3: Supine spine stretcher
(Repeat 5 times)

(Aurora says hello!)

Come to lying on the back with the knees hugged into the chest, feel free to roll out the back and hips here for a few breaths.
As you inhale stretch the legs up to the ceiling with the feet flexed and the arms alongside the ears. Make sure you do not let the tailbone lift off the floor.  As you exhale hug the knees back in towards the chest.  Repeat 5 times.

Finish the sequence with a supine twist and savasana.

The point here is to keep the spine straight but not stiff.  Concetrate on finding the balance between stength and softness within the vertebrae.


Thanks Rachel for such a great sequence for the spine!  Dear readers, what is your experience with your spine?  How has yoga changed that?


  1. Thank you for the sequence, Rachel! The photos are great, too ... I'm such a visual learner.

    I heard once that you're only as young as your spine. Or something like this. I think it's so true. Since my back has begun to trouble me, I find it difficult to do simple tasks sometimes, like bending down to pick Luna up. Not that I can't do it, because I can, but because of the soreness. It comes from bad posture and a weak back and a lazy spine (which I am not starting to thoroughly comprehend). So, I've become determined to do some yoga everyday to help with this. Even if I can only get in 15 minutes a day. The thing is, the more yoga I do, the better my spine and back feel.

    La Gitane, I tried out your sequence yesterday, and it was wonderful to 1) work on my own with a written out sequence and no video and 2) focus on my core and back.

    But, back to the spine and back thing. I used to take spine and back health for granted. Two years ago I would have never thought twice about my spine and back. Now, I realize how important it is, and so it has become incredibly important to me to get my back and spine feeling strong again. Especially because I don't want to be visiting the chiropractor every week for the rest of my life :).

  2. ladies, you KNOW im linking to this business. (um, if that's cool) shoot. this stuff makes me eggs-cite-it.

  3. @Juliana - "You're only as young as your spine" - I love that quote! Great words of wisdom. I guess it's easy to take your back for granted until it starts giving you trouble... That was my experience with scoliosis anyway. Wonder what would happen if I had a baby?!!

    @Emma - you crack me up girl! Bring on the link love. :D

  4. I'm kinda late with my comment, but I just discovered your blog/site and I've enjoyed reading articles and sequences so far. I am a scoliosis sufferer as well, but I have had surgery to fixate my spine. I was wondering if I could do this sequence and still benefit from it, even though my spine can't really 'allign' anymore?

    It would be great because it seems like a simple routine to start the day with :)


  5. @Sonja - There's absolutely nothing keeping you from trying this sequence! With yoga, the emphasis is not so much on trying to "correct", simply to stretch and strengthen. Even with a fixated spine you can work on lengthening and strengthening the muscles in your back - and it would be a fabulous way to start your day! Just remember to take it easy and respect your body as you go. :) Peace!

  6. @ La Gitane: thanks for the fast reply :) I will try it some mornings to awaken my back. I was talking about 'align'-ing, because a teacher I had a while ago kept going on and on about how "your spine will feel strong and straight in this pose, just align!"... Got on my nerves haha... But thanks so much again! I will take it easy :) Love