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.