Yoga for Scoliosis – Moves to Avoid


is yoga bad for scoliosis

After taking all the necessary precautions into consideration (see previous articles) and getting approval and recommendations from the practitioner treating your scoliosis, if you have scoliosis and would like to establish a scoliosis yoga program, here are some poses to AVOID or take greater care when performing.

Back-Bending

Bending a scoliotic spine backwards will reduce the normal front to back thoracic shape (kyphosis). This “normal” part of the spinal shape works to limit scoliosis progression.  You want to encourage this shape, NOT do anything to reduce it!  By the way… back bend positions will not effectively lessen the rib arch.  There really is nothing that can… surgery with rib shaving is the only method… and that is very invasive! Back-bending postures flatten the thoracic spine which can destabilize the area and can worsen the scoliosis.

Cobra / Bhujangasana or Naga-asana

scoliosis yoga_cobra_bhujangasana_naga-asana

Cobra / Bhujangasana or Naga-asana

Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana

Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana

Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana

Bow pose / Dhanurasana  

Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana

Half Moon / Ardha Chandrasana

Camel / Ustrasana

Camel / Ustrasana

Camel / Ustrasana

Wheel / Chakrasana / Urdhva Dhanurasana

scoliosis yoga_Wheel _Chakrasana_Urdhva Dhanurasana

Wheel / Chakrasana / Urdhva Dhanurasana

Locust  / Salabhasana

Locust  / Salabhasana

Locust / Salabhasana

King of the dance / Nataraja-asana

King of the dance / Nataraja-asana

King of the dance / Nataraja-asana

Scorpion / Vrischikasana

Scorpion / Vrischikasana

Scorpion / Vrischikasana

Sun salutation

The back-bending in Cobra or Upward Dog is a problem so avoid these parts in your scoliosis yoga program. A baby cobra would be a better option.

Twisting the Torso Against the Pelvis

Unless you are certain it will not aggravate the rib arching, avoid twisting the torso against the pelvis. The rib arch, is increased as it rotates backwards into the existing curvature, regardless of whether the rotation is to the left or right side. There are types of scoliosis that CAN include these types of twists in their yoga for scoliosis program BUT, only to one side! Talk to your practitioner about these poses before including it in a scoliosis yoga program.  Do it to the wrong side, or in the presence of a compensatory curve elsewhere in the spine and you are asking for trouble!

Spinal Twist / Ardha Matsyendrasana

yoga for scoliosis_Ardha Matsyendrasana

Spinal Twist / Ardha Matsyendrasana

People with scoliosis should absolutely avoid the Spinal Twist. Some types of scoliosis have up to three or four curves of the spine from the neck,  middle back and rib cage, and lumbar spine into the pelvis. These can be increased by twisting one section against another at the expense of a third or fourth area of scoliosis in the same spine. Even if it is done on either side, it is still counterproductive.

  Triangle / Trikonasana

yoga for scoliosis_Triangle -Trikonasana

Triangle / Trikonasana

Avoided because the shoulder girdle is twisted against the pelvis and the middle section must follow after the more comfortable side.

Seated Twist / Bharadvajasana 

Seated Twist / Bharadvajasana

Seated Twist / Bharadvajasana

Sage Twist  / Marichyasana

yoga for scoliosis_Marichyasana - Sage twist

Sage Twist / Marichyasana

Bending the Rib Cage

Bending the rib cage backwards, forwards or sideways should all be avoided. Trying to open up the main scoliotic curve between the thoracic and lumbar spine may improve the major thoracic curve BUT at the expense of any curvatures above or below that curve. How will you know that is happening? Would you be able to notice that the adjacent regions of your scoliosis were worsening? Maybe… maybe not!

Side bend / Ardha Chandrasana

Side bend / Ardha Chandrasana

Side bend / Ardha Chandrasana

A scoliosis patient performing this exercise to both sides would exercise into the existing curve and increase it. It is not recommended even if also performed  in the opposite direction.  This type of pose must be done only to one side, and if it is effective at unlocking the spine, MUST be accompanied by neuromuscular retraining!

Other Poses to Avoid:

Shoulder stand / Sarvangasana

Shoulder stand / Sarvangasana

Shoulder stand / Sarvangasana

In the shoulder stand pose the head is bent sharply forward. This over stretches the neck muscles. It will also promote cervical kyphosis (a reversing of the normal shape of the neck).  The whole body weight is on the shoulders, and could greatly increase a rib arch formation. An important part of any scoliosis yoga correction program is to work with improvement of the normal curvatures of the neck and low back. Shoulder stand will work AGAINST the establishment of normal spinal contours! Avoid it!

The Plow / Halasana

The Plow / Halasana

The Plow / Halasana

Effect is similar to the shoulder stand. Will work against the normal neck curve.

Headstand

Headstand

Headstand

A scoliotic spine is inherently weak and unstable. Turn it upside down and push it into the skull and you risk destabilizing it further. The upper cervical (top part of the neck) is often problematic due to ligament stress from the scoliosis. Headstand will place undue pressure on these weakened ligaments. It is better to perform isometric strengthening to stabilize the weakened area.

Source

For further reading:

Yoga for Scoliosis – Can Yoga Make Scoliosis Worse?

Yoga for Scoliosis – Proceed with Caution!

Yoga for Scoliosis – Can Yoga Cure Scoliosis?

Posted in Scoliosis Exercise
2 comments on “Yoga for Scoliosis – Moves to Avoid
  1. Mr.Madhu Haridas says:

    Sir,
    I am 39 yrs of age and suffering from right thoraco lumbar scoliosis with my right shoulder up and inward curve down the abdomen part.The sides right are intermingled and ribs painful.
    Please suggest?

    • If you are interested in an exercise based program of care, please contact my office. The first step is for me to view any medical reports you have including all imaging studies (X-ray or MRI). Then I can talk to you and give you my opinion as to whether you qualify for this type of care program.

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