Yoga for Scoliosis - yoga and your strong fluid spine
What is Scoliosis?
This can be a somewhat tricky question! Essentially, a scoliosis is an asymmetry within the spine, as a three dimensional expression. Sometimes simply referred to as 'curvature' of the spine, scoliosis weaves its path through the three cardinal planes of the body's terrain; (through front to back- travelling the sagittal plane, from side to side - in the coronal or frontal plane, and horizontally - the 'twist', within the transverse plane). Think of it as a lateral curve, with a rotary component, often with a increased lordosis or kyphosis (as the case may be). Like the landscape itself, each scoliotic spine and its ecology are unique.
I'm often asked the 'difference' between a structural versus a functional curve. Simply stated, a structural curve is within the bony architecture itself. Yet all such curves have their 'functional' voice. Perhaps as genesis. Perhaps as effect. Perhaps both. A functional asymmetry, (perhaps arising from the way one inhabits, or uses, their physicality), will, given time and given continued asymmetric use, (and or course, in ubiquitous gravity), generally evolve to a 'structural' asymmetry. Form follows use.
The song of the scoliotic spine is not limited to the bony form. Impact echoes over to respiratory function, cardiopulmonary exercise effects, balance, and kinesthetic impact, imbalances and facilitation within the nervous and fluid field system, to name a few.
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Why Yoga for Scoliosis?
I am also often asked why I choose to teach Yoga and Scoliosis. The answer is simple. I inhabit a scoliosis. Yoga, with a scoliosis, is my Practice. And all I have, as I teach, is my Practice. Nope, it's not a groovy niche market I thought might be good to 'get into'.
Yes, but why Yoga? Essentially, for me, yoga has been a significant exploration since age four. Before I knew it had a name, or was a Form. And, even then, I was aware of the left-right conversation through my spine having different freedoms of expression, different experiential relationships. Back then, it was more about curiosity and exploration, rather than 'let's fix my back'. It still is.
As a form, the Iyengar method of yoga has a capacity for incisive, penetration of the body. The method demands clear, potent action through the limbs - particularly the feet and legs, which in turn, profoundly impacts the spine. Props (yoga equipment) are employed extensively, clarifying the direction and intent of your work, and augmenting and harnessing the actions of the pose. This offers you deep insight into the way you use (or not!), your body. In scoliosis, specific prop usage can offer traction and de-rotation within the asymmetric spine. Props can also assist in strengthening around the new alignment, as the individual learns the new felt sense of the body in space - kinesthesia re-written. Much can change!
When you stand on your mat in my yoga room, you will experience your embodied anatomy, and your developmental movement processes, both interwoven with your searching the sensation of your spine within asana. Why? Because you are a Being whole in the ecology of your function. Your direct conscious encounter with your body's interior, together with an awareness of your movement pathways, offers you, above all, integration and ease of movement. Doesn't that sound nice?
My own practice and my teaching center around yoga as a spiritual practice of embodiment and consciousness. It's about the Whole ecology of the Being on the mat within the Whole ecology of their life. Whilst yoga is undoubtedly a physical practice of often very intense application, I do not see yoga as 'musculoskeletal therapy'.
Can Yoga change my back? Yes. You can change the experience, function, and often the architecture of your body through consistent, intelligently applied yoga. You can change the way you move, the way you feel your back, and you can change the way you breathe as you inhabit your body! Peace is a common side effect. Oh, and simple joy.
My work is currently the ONLY service in Australia, that focuses specifically on helping you practice yoga with scoliosis. Indeed. Welcome!
Banner Image of Narelle Carter-Quinlan by GE McKerrihan