Transcript of: How can I work with scoliosis in my yoga practice?
Hey everybody! Welcome to this month’s question of the month. Of course, if you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, all you’ve got to do is go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll answer it. Don’t forget to hit the subscribe button. This month’s question of the month comes from Maja and it’s about working with scoliosis in yoga practice.
Hi, I have a minor scoliosis and in the downward dog, when I put my hands on the same level, it always seems that something is uneven. My question is, should I keep my hands even, or should I move them so that my back feels even? In the sense that what is the best way to do it for the scoliosis itself, to not deepen it? Maybe it can be even made better with the right practice?
Good question! I’m glad it’s a mild scoliosis, which might mean that it’s never really going to get that bad on its own. It’s hard to predict the future of course. More importantly, let’s come back to the hands. The hands are reflecting what’s going on in the spine. Right? When you have a scoliosis—you’re not super specific about the type of scoliosis, like it can be a single curve or a double curve. There can be a rotation in it. It gets more much complicated when you get into scoliosis. But, you say it’s mild, so regardless of that, when the spine starts to bend off to one side or the other, of course that means the shoulders change in height or they slide over slightly. Right? Something like that happens which may account for your hands feeling uneven or being uneven when your back feels normal.
And there could be other shoulder restrictions that are preventing that hand from being there. So, it may or may not even be coming from your scoliosis in yoga practice. But I would tend to say that is probably a big component of it. Either way, the hands are reflecting what’s going on in the spine. They’re not a cause, right?
The superficial alignments
So, when we start to look at the superficial alignments, like my fingertips in the same line, my toes in the same line, etc., you’re fixing the superficial. You’re not fixing the source. And as you rightly point out, the source is the scoliosis. In this case, let’s assume that, right? So really what’s important is how you work with the scoliosis in your yoga practice. And then over time—let’s say the problem was the scoliosis and let’s say you magically undo the scoliosis. We would assume then the hand is able to be in the right place without anything else feeling off.
The scoliosis changes the hand. Changing the hand doesn’t fix the scoliosis. There are too many joints in between for adjusting the hand to have any curative effect on the scoliosis. But if alignment is important to you and you feel like having a straight line with your fingers is the most important part, by all means. I don’t think it’s going to harm anything. And yes, it’s going to make your back or your pelvis, or in this case, that whole area of it, feel like something’s wrong. Because it is “off,” relative to its normal pattern and your felt sense of where it lives.
So, just to be clear with your question, moving your hand is not going to fix your scoliosis. I mean that’s highly unlikely. But, it can give you the relative sense of how creating that alignment shifts your body, your low back, your pelvis, etc., so that you are aware of your scoliosis in yoga practice. And if you then wanted to try to correct your pelvis and low back, one could argue that that might help your scoliosis over time.
Yoga is likely helping
But, I take a bigger view. And I would say, generally, the fact that you’re practicing yoga means that you’re already doing what you need to do, generally speaking. Unless it’s a more severe case of scoliosis, mild cases you’re helping just by virtue of stretching and strengthening forward, backward, sideways, twisting, etc. Whether it’s going to fix your scoliosis or not is a bigger question. Chances are just the general nature of being a practitioner is going to keep it from getting worse. The hand by itself is not going to do that. But if you have the intuition that that is important, do it. See what happens. You can always change your mind later. Okay?
Other ways to work with scoliosis in yoga practice
And, before I go, there could be some things that you do in your practice, or emphasize things in a particular way. I can’t tell you what they are because I don’t know you. I haven’t seen you or know what your scoliosis is. Even then, it’s a little bit of a guessing game. But you could do some specific things, whether it’s holding postures longer on a particular side or emphasizing certain things that could lead to even undoing your scoliosis over time. So don’t give up hope on that. But it’s out of the scope of what I can do on video for you.
Anyway, I hope that helped. If you’ve got a question that you want me to answer, go to yoganatomy.com/myquestion and I’ll get to it as soon as I can.
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