Turning to Yoga for Scoliosis: Elise Browning Miller’s Story

For most Americans, sitting up straight all day would be a challenge. However, for an estimated 7 million people in the United States, sitting up “straight” may not even be an option. 2-3% of Americans suffer from a spinal disease known as scoliosis, which contorts the spine into lateral curves, limiting activity, reducing respiratory function, and causing back pain, headaches, and digestive problems, as well as leg, hip, and knee pain.

Elise Browning Miller, like many of those who suffer from scoliosis, was diagnosed with the disease during her teenage years. Her doctors, upon noting the severity of her scoliosis (she suffered from structural right thoracic scoliosis of 49 degrees with a compensating left lumbar curve), recommended surgery. The prescription was not unusual: every year an estimated 38,000 patients undergo spinal fusion surgery for the disease.

However, Elise wanted a second opinion before going under the knife. Fortunately, the orthopedic surgeon she next spoke with suggested an alternative route, which included a new stretching and breathing technique: yoga. Motivated by her back pain and worsening posture, and with the prospect of surgery looming in the background, Elise began taking yoga for scoliosis.

Immediately, she noticed a difference: her pain decreased, and her physical alignment, previously twisted by the ever-inclining angle of her vertebrae, began to balance out. The more Elise practiced yoga, the more improvement she found. Inspired by her own transformative path to physical balance and structural health, Elise decided to share what she had gained with others by making yoga her career.

Working personally with yoga master B.K.S. Iyengar, Elise gained deeper insight into which yoga postures most helped to correct the painful curvature of her spine. Now, through combining physical therapy principles with the yoga’s precise attention to alignment and anatomical detail, Elise has created a program to provide scoliosis relief for patients of all ages.

Over 80% of scoliosis cases are idiopathic, which means that not only are doctors are unable to determine who will develop scoliosis and why, but there is no way to know how far the condition will progress. Through her yoga routines, Elise offers patients of the disease the same techniques that allowed her successfully minimize the effects of her own scoliosis

Her program, available in the DVD/video, “Yoga for Scoliosis with Elise Browning Miller” focuses on lengthening the spine, stretching tight muscles, and strengthening muscles that have deteriorated into weakness. Her yoga for scoliosis routine works to de-rotate the spine and ribs, creating balance in harmony in the body and providing much needed relief from the aches and pains of scoliosis.

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