The Benefits of Yoga for Scoliosis
How yoga can help with Scoliosis?
By Christine Jaureguiberry, local Yoga teacher in New Malden.
Scoliosis has been a topic in my life for as long as I can remember… and unfortunately so has back pain.
I was diagnosed as a child, with a lateral curve with rotation (Scoliosis) in my lumbar spine during a routine check-up by the paediatrician in Germany. The curve wasn’t severe enough for the doctors to suggest surgery or a brace but referred me to physiotherapy which I did on a weekly basis for a couple of years.
As I wasn’t in any pain at the time I stopped eventually and I was just told to stay active so my
mother signed me up for ballet and volleyball which I did throughout my early teenage years.
It wasn’t until the age of 18 when I was studying for my A-Levels when things really started to get worse.
I started having more and more lower back, neck and shoulder pain. I started exploring various
treatments like osteopathy, chiropractic, acupuncture and more physiotherapy. All of them helped in their own way temporarily but nothing had a lasting effect.
I knew that my spine would never be straight – scoliosis doesn’t just go away after all. It was about managing pain and I was constantly searching for something or someone that would make my back feel better.
Movement & Yoga
When I came to London back in 2004 I was in my early twenties and still in pain most days. I enjoyed everything that this amazing city has to offer including a huge variety of exercise classes!
I have never enjoyed going to the gym – I don’t like the repetitiveness, the smell, going around from machine to machine – it just isn’t my thing and makes me feel uncomfortable. A lot of health practitioners had recommended Pilates to me to build up core strength so I tried it and enjoyed that much more. Movement generally made me feel better.
In the same studio they also offered yoga classes and I decided to give it a go one day. I was pretty much hooked from the first class that I attended – I felt amazing! I loved the feeling of having moved my whole body and filling it with new energy. Breathing and relaxation exercises helped with releasing tension in my body. I slowly started to build up my strength and flexibility which made a huge difference and my back felt much better.
Working in an office, however, didn’t help my backpain. Neither did travelling around the country with a heavy laptop. I was continuing to binge on treatments looking for someone who could “fix” me.
I remember one moment in a yoga class when I asked my teacher what I could do about my scoliosis.
What she said to me was simply “you have to take responsibility for your body”. I didn’t fully understand at the time but I started to educate myself and tried to learn as much as possible about my condition.
I started doing more and more research and seek out teachers that specialise in scoliosis. I became really interested in the therapeutic benefits and experimented with various different styles of yoga I also started to appreciate not only the active exercise part of yoga but also the meditative aspects of yoga – which I honestly couldn’t do without now that I’m a mother of two!
When my youngest child was born I took the decision not to go back to corporate life. I wanted to become a yoga teacher – to do what I was truly passionate about, to be able to be around for my children and to pass on what I had learned over the past 30+ years of living with scoliosis.
Now I understand that I don’t need to be “fixed”. I am fine just as I am. Of course, I get the occasional back pain but I know how to deal with it now. I understand how important it is to actively do something to help my body alongside the occasional treatment to maintain my spinal health.
What is Yoga?
Yoga is an ancient practice that was designed to empower health and a greater sense of ‘Self’
connecting the body, mind and spirit. It involves breathing techniques and physical low impact
movement amongst other practices depending on the type of class.
Physical yoga practice (asana) moves the spine into 6 different directions – extension (back bending),
flexion (forward bending), rotation – both ways of course and side bending. Movements are slow and
often held for a certain amount of time while keeping awareness of the breath.
Studies have shown that it can be especially helpful in improving lower back pain.
Benefits of yoga
- Improves body awareness and posture
- can relieve back ache
- increases strength and flexibility
- can help to regulate blood pressure
- relaxation helps to reduce stress
- good for the heart and circulatory systems
- improves balance and focus
- better bone health (prevent osteoporosis)
- can help with anxiety and depression
- promotes better sleep
Christine Jaureguiberry is a certified Yoga Teacher for children and adults, teaching 1:1 and group classes in New Malden, Kingston and surrounding areas. She also specialises in Yoga for Scoliosis and Family yoga.