FAQs Yoga for Back Pain + Scoliosis

Herniations and Other Back Conditions FAQS

Is yoga good for herniated discs?

Specific yoga poses, when performed with care and under expert supervision can bring effective relief from the excruciating pain caused by a herniated disc. Studies suggest that those suffering from a herniated disc will benefit from simple movements that emphasize extension. Certain poses should be avoided however, yoga has several poses that are bound to give individuals with a herniated disc immense relief from acute pain.

If I have a herniated disc are there certain poses I should avoid?

Some poses that are good for one person may be bad for another so your yoga program should be tailored to your individual needs. Some general advice when doing yoga with a disc injury first off is if a pose causes any pain, tingling or numbness, stop immediately. Avoid all seated forward bends, rounding your back and do not bend forward past 90 degrees with straight knees while your back pain persists. Twisting actions can also exacerbate and compress the disc further. The key principle when dealing with a herniated or bulging disc is to maintain a neutral spine. 

Does yoga help with lower back pain?

Yes. Based on research on yoga for back pain there is strong evidence for short-term effectiveness and moderate evidence for long-term effectiveness of yoga for chronic low-back pain. Yoga incorporates stretching and relaxation, which reduces tension in stress-carrying muscles. Stretching is very important for people with lower back pain. For example, stretching the hamstring muscles helps expand the motion in the pelvis, decreasing stress across the lower back. In addition, stretching with yoga increases blood flow and overall nourishment of the muscles and soft tissues in the lower back.

Can yoga help to improve poor posture?

Many of the poses in yoga strengthen the muscles in the back and abdominal muscles. Back and abdominal muscles are essential components of the muscular network of the spine, helping the body maintain proper upright posture and movement. The yoga poses train the body to be healthy and supple. Additionally, awareness of the body increases with practice, training people to understand their habits and limitations of their body. Consistent practice will result in improved posture and an increased sense of balance, with head, shoulders and pelvis in proper alignment. 

Yoga for Scoliosis FAQS

Can yoga help to decrease my scoliotic curve? 

This depends on your age, degree of scoliosis and dedication. It also depends on whether your scoliosis is functional or structural. With an open mind and a consistent practice, anything is possible. More importantly, yoga can give you a tool to cope with scoliosis without depending on a professional to “fix” you. yoga not only alleviates the pain but also fosters a sense of empowerment. You gain confidence, strength and flexibility not only in your yoga practice but also in their lives. 

Does yoga help with the pain caused by scoliosis? 

Yes. In the beginning, you may feel some discomfort as your body readjusts to a new sense of alignment. You may initially feel some soreness in the back as the muscles become more balanced and the body finds its center. Yoga poses and breathing techniques will help you learn to release muscle tension and relax the body. In addition, practicing the poses with careful alignment will help balance the muscles and bones, taking the extra burden off the muscles. yoga can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine as well as create traction to lengthen the spine. Also, it can help improve poses and stabilize the condition. Any pain over an extended period of time should be brought to the attention of your physician. 

If my scoliotic curve is severe and I have not had surgery for it, can I do yoga? 

Yes, depending on the individual, you will likely find it helpful to modify some of the poses. In yoga, we address the imbalances with breath awareness and poses that emphasize alignment and balance. It is important to work with a teacher who understands proper alignment and ways to modify poses for those with spinal imbalances. 

How can yoga address the imbalances caused by scoliosis? 

There are common patterns with scoliosis, where the spine moves both laterally (to the side) and also rotates. The basic principles used when doing yoga for scoliosis are first to work to elongate the spine and stretch muscles that have become imbalanced. Second, work to address the imbalances with poses that emphasize alignment. And lastly, practice poses that strengthen the spine and back around the newly formed patterns. 

Will yoga help me feel more aligned and centered? 

When you first begin yoga, your sense of what is balanced or aligned may be a bit askew. Sometimes in a person with scoliosis what feels aligned is often misaligned, and what feels misaligned is often balanced alignment. As you continue to practice and your awareness deepens, your body and mind go through a process of what some call “re-mapping,” where you begin to refine your sense of inner alignment and balance. The goal is not to make the spine “perfect” but to find one’s own center and beauty. 

As I get older, it seems that my curvature is getting worse and I have more pain. Can yoga help me, and can I begin at any age? 

It’s never too late to begin yoga. Students learn which poses to emphasize and how to adapt poses for their particular pattern of scoliosis. Some of the simplest poses are the most effective for pain control. If you take a keen interest in yoga and practice regularly, then you will improve naturally. 

As a teenager, I don’t feel any pain even though I have scoliosis. Why should I do yoga? 

Though there is no pain, yoga can be a preventive measure. Statistics show that if you have been diagnosed with scoliosis as a teenager, the degree of curvature may increase. yoga can help strengthen the muscles that support the spine as well as create traction to lengthen the spine. Also, it can help improve posture and stabilize the condition. 

Can yoga be counterproductive, causing injury or even deeper imbalance in my spine? 

While any form of yoga can be therapeutic, individuals with scoliosis need to pay careful attention to their bodies’ unique needs and practice in ways that help minimize the body’s asymmetries. When practiced without this awareness, yoga can occasionally be counterproductive. This is why it is important to study with a well-trained instructor who focuses on alignment and can help students make specific adjustments and modifications that support symmetry and balance. It is also recommended to consult with your physician before beginning a new type of exercise.

Can I practice yoga with a fused spine? 

Yes, you certainly can. Many students with fused spines, find that they can do yoga because many beginning yoga poses (like standing poses) require you to fold from the hips rather than the waist, the spine stays in a relatively neutral position. This makes it possible to do yoga even with a fused spine. If you do have a fused spine, first consult with your doctor. 

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