Due to our relocation to Antwerp, Belgium, posts on classes and workshops geared towards local students will from now on be in Dutch. If you are visiting Antwerp, and would like to attend, kindly send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for information in English.
My best wishes for a wonderful 2016! Hope the New Year will bring you all great adventures, splendid health, good times with friends and family, and the financial situation which will allow you to make choices.
For me, the beginning of this New Year means my sabbatical has come to an end, and I’m really looking forward to wonderful new beginnings for The Dynamic Spine.
As some of you may know, I relocated to Europe, and The Dynamic Spine found a new home in the wonderful city of Antwerp.
As always, my classes will focus on Yoga as a tool towards health and well being. I am starting off with Yoga for Back Care, Yoga for Scoliosis, Yoga for Babyboomers and Yoga for Athletes. Of course I will still conduct some regular Hatha Yoga and Vinyasa classes geared towards students of all ages, seeking a steady and safe method to build up strength and flexibility.
To me, health is much more than the absence of sickness and disease. Health is a state where all your body systems function well and harmoniously, allowing you to feel full of vitality and bursting with energy when life is kind, but where you also have the physical and mental strength to cope with life’s challenges and difficult moments.
Yoga is about balance, and I firmly believe that health, feeling and looking good are neither found through austerity and deprivation, nor by overexhaustion and too much effort, but by making correct choices. The choice to do a few exercises everyday, and to remain flexible, strong and balanced through life. The choice to replace junk food by tasty, nurturing and healthy food which makes you look and feel good.. The choice to look at life through a screen of negativity, or to wake up each day and decide it’s going to be a great day.
Please come and join me in Koh Samui on 13, 14 and 15 December. Workshops suitable for students and teachers
Some pictures of one of my students.
For more details see my post https://thedynamicspine.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/yoga-for-scoliosis-does-it-help-25/
Most explanations of Scoliosis will describe it is a condition where the spine laterally twists, and possibly rotates, causing the ribs to rotate with it.
As a Yoga teacher who has seen many cases of Scoliosis, I have come to understand that the condition involves a lot more than the spine and the ribcage. When making an assesment of my student’s condition, I of course start from looking at the spine and ribcage, and where possible try to confirm my observations by an x-ray and ideally a report on it.
But an x-ray does not tell much about the other inbalances in the body. And believe me, a scoliotic body is misaligned in many more ways
Just a few examples :
Fallen arches and weak and stiff ankles contribute to inbalances in the legs and thighs, causing the pelvis to tilt and rotate, leaving the spine no choice but to adjust itself laterally.
Uneven leg length, real or caused by by unevenness in muscle flexibility and strength may lead to the same problems.
Once Scoliosis has become a reality, the spine itself will affect and accentuate the other inbalances in the body. causing the problem to escalate.
The body will further adjust itself by creating compensatory curves and rotations. The shoulder girdle will compensate, and the shoulders will rotate in opposite directions. As the eyes try to level themselves, the neck will be affected by similar uneveness in length and rotation.
Yoga poses work the entity of the body, rather than just focused areas. Yoga poses not only influence muscles and bones, but have a deep effect on the fascia.
How you select the poses is based on the invidiual case. A general Yoga class is definitely a good choice where no specialized courses are availble, but it takes and experienced teacher in the subject to go beyond maintenance, as many poses may require adjustment to the individual’s specific case.
In my experience the basis of Yoga for Scoliosis cannot be taught in large settings, as each case requires studying and preparation, and time is spent during classes to adjust each individual student to assure correct execution of the poses. As the course and student’s spine evolve the focus of the practice may change, and adjustments be made both to the selection of poses and the manner they are executed in. It further takes a very trained eye to distinguish between what the student experiences and the reality of their performance.
Maybe other Yoga teachers have another succesfull approach to Scoliosis, and I merely wanna provide a short overview in answer to the many questions I have received on the subject. If you feel you have useful observations or other approaches, I am more than willing to take them into consideration, because after all, nothing is more important than the benefits to the student.
Time and again, we are being told that there is no cure for Scoliosis. That nothing can bring improvement to the condition. Young people with Scoliosis are spending 23 hours a day in braces, and this for the duration of their growing years, in the hopes of stopping the progression of the curves. And then there are of course the operations. I am not here to discuss the pros and cons of other methods. I am sure each has benefits in their own right, and if someone has a Scoliosis which has progressed to the point where the quality of their lives is seriously impaired, I suppose they have very little options but to go under the knife.
But would it not be fair to have a look at all possibilities. Most doctors will tell you that Yoga can not do anything for Scoliosis. And yet…. Time and over again my students come back from check ups reporting their Scoliosis has either stopped progressing, or shows actual improvement on X-ray.
But Scoliosis is more than just lateral curves in the spine, which is what is measured on X-rays. In my experience, Scoliosis is not just a condition of the spine, but one that affects the whole body. It is surely not uncommon to see how students improvement is visible not just in the spine, but also in pelvis, neck and shoulders. Moreover, many of my students notice other changes. Some of them get nicer legs. Their feet get arches. And even faces can become more symmetrical when the pull of the muscles on the spine and neck is altered.
Of course, Yoga is not a miracle cure. And not all Yoga will help. Students with Scoliosis need programs which take their condition in consideration. Their case needs to be studied carefully, and the exercises need to be taught in a way that benefits them. The postures also need to be carefully selected, what benefits one student may actually not be the best in another case of Scoliosis. And as you probably noticed, no two cases of Scoliosis are identical to begin with. Neither are the underlying causes and effects. So it is important to work with a teacher who really understands and has experience in working with the condition.
But a picture speaks more than a thousand words. So I am posting here a few pictures of one of my students, and her journey along the path of Yoga for Scoliosis. The first picture was taken after doing Yoga for a few weeks, and she had already felt considerable changes in the body. The other two were on the dates mentioned below the pictures.
The student whose pictures are posted came to me, suffering from an 83 degree right thoracic scoliosis. She was scheduled to have a subsidized operation, but was very scared to go under the knife, as she was told that there was a two percent risk of being paralysed after the operation.
Apart from this, her pelvis was not level, she had a lumbar curve and her shoulders were not even. Her neck muscles were quite uneven, and the pull of the neck muscles resulted in her face looking quite assymetrical. Her thoracic curve kept progressing, and was estimated to progress to 90 degrees by the time of the operation.
After doing Yoga for some time, she went to see the doctors with regards to the scheduled operation. At that time her pelvis was level, her lumbar curve had disappeared, and her thoracic curve had remained at 83 degrees, rather than progressed to the predicted 90 degrees. Her shoulders were more level, and her face had become more symmetrical due to the decreased pull of the neck muscles. So she told the doctors she did not want the operation…
Another student just got her results back. She was advised to have an operation, but as her condition had improved from 47 to 41 degrees (after 13 private sessions), her doctor decided the operation was not necessary.
These cases are not unique. Many of my students have seen improvement on x-ray, and have managed to avoid an operation thanks to Yoga for Scoliosis.
So does it help ? In all honesty, I think it is about time the medical world would have a serious look at Yoga for Scoliosis as a valid complementary treatment option in the battle against Scoliosis. Already, some doctors and chiropractors have recognized the value of the work I am doing. But it would be wonderful if the benefits of Yoga for Scoliosis were better known. And if the medical world is ready to consider the possibility, I am more than willing to cooperate in clinical trials to prove the benefits of the Yoga for Scoliosis practice. I say no more….