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My doctor advises me that yoga can help my scoliosis, is this true?

Yoga can be a good alternative to surgery for scoliosis, and with commitment can help manage and treat pain and minimize further curvature of the spine. According to Elise Browning Miller, a yoga teacher with scoliosis and author of Yoga Journal's Teaching Yoga for Scoliosis, the most important movement during a yoga practice is lengthening the spine as it will create more evenness in the spine and ribs thus releasing tension in the back muscles. Below are a few beginner postures recommended by Miller including the Cat/Cow Pose and Child's Pose.

  • Marjariasana (Cat/Cow Pose) can be performed by using the following technique. Starting at hands and knees in a neutral tabletop position, check your alignment and ensure that your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are directly under the hips; spread your fingers and ground into all four corners of the hands. Begin with an inhalation as you lift your head and tailbone bringing your belly low like a cow and making your back concave. On the exhale, reverse the movement by tucking your chin and tailbone while pressing into the hands and sending your spine rounded and reaching toward the ceiling like a cat. Continue to link the breath with movement and really exaggerate the movement to get a complete stretch and opening in the spine. Practice this several consecutive times.
  • Balasana (Child's Pose) can be performed by using the following technique. From your hands and knees, draw the big toes together and knees splayed approximately mat distance apart. Inhale fully and walk the hands out as long as you can toward the front of your mat, lengthening the spine as you exhale and draw the hips back halfway toward the heels. Send energy to the intercostal muscles that are stretching as your spine and back muscles elongate. Move your arms toward the convex side of your spine, keeping the arms shoulder-width apart as this helps stretch compressed ribs on the concave side. Notice an evening out of the spine and breathe. Then let your hips descend all the way back to rest on your heels, and let the shoulders, head, neck, and forehead relax and release toward mat or floor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.