Scoliosis affects an estimated 6 million Americans, but millions more than that have minor scoliotic curvatures of the spine, which largely goes unrecognized. Still, these can often be the source of discomfort in the spine, shoulders and SI joint.
What do we know about how scoliosis develops and the factors that may help curb its progression? How might we observe even a slight scoliosis in our own body or that of our students? Which are the most common yoga approaches to working with scoliosis in yoga, and their key underlying principles?
In this inspiring talk, Doug Keller discusses these and many other questions relevant to exploring spinal alignment and ways to unwind scoliotic patterns. Doug discusses the different factors that affect the development of scoliosis, and what we know about how we can work productively with scoliosis in yoga.
One of the problems in scoliosis is that the body gets used to the wrong alignment, so what we feel on the inside doesn’t align with what we look on the outside. One of the therapeutic goals is to rewrite what we feel in the body and the mental image we have to create feedback loops that begin to harmonize alignment in the body.
Working with scoliosis is a process of self-empowerment, Doug notes, and not just a process of therapy that we impose from the outside. It’s a process of discovery and deepening into the deeper dimensions of the body and spinal alignment.
Doug also discusses the different therapeutic approaches developed by yoga teachers such as Elise Miller and Dr. Loren Fishman. This work particularly points out the necessity of the core in working with scoliosis, he notes.
Recognizing scoliotic patterns in students or your own body may seem complex at first, but there are basic principles that are universal that make it easier. Doug discusses the principle of right angle breathing – how to expand the ribcage on the concave side of the scoliosis and how to derotate it. It’s the asymmetry during the breath that imposes a greater imbalance on the spine, and once we learn to use the breath to create a derotation, you can begin to make progress and enhance balance. Doug further delineates the principles of creating a therapeutic progression to gradually encourage greater spinal balance.
Also check out Doug’s course on YogaUOnline: Yoga for Scoliosis: A Closer Look at Spinal Alignment.