Tag Archives: Paschimottanasana

Helping Scoliosis


Scoliosis is not that uncommon in our society. I battle it myself and have found that I am aided in that battle with yoga. Scoliosis is a condition in which the spine experiences a curvature that renders one hip higher and that same shoulder lower. This can cause a number of problems from shoulder to hip, including respiratory problems. For some, surgery is an option, for others – surgery is out of the question. Rather than searching for a medical solution to helping battle scoliosis, yoga can offer relief by stretching and contracting the muscles on either side of the spine.  This being said, here is a list of the best asanas that help to stretch the spinal muscles:

1. Kurmasana (Tortoise pose)

2. Balasana (Child’s pose)

3. Paschimottanasana (Seated forward bend)

Here is a list of the asanas that help to contract and strengthen the spinal muscles:

1. Salabhasana (Locust pose)

2. Urdhva Danurasana (Wheel pose)

3. Purvottanasana (Upward Plank pose)

Additionally, it is always important to twist the spine and the best poses for that are:

1. Marichyasana III

2. Parivrtta Trikonasana (Revolved triangle pose)

3. Parivrtta Parsvakonasana (Revolved angle pose)

Both Parivrtta Trikonasana and Parivrtta Parsvakonasana also stretch the hamstrings which can alleviate lower back tightness as tight hamstrings can pull the pelvic girdle posterior, creating misalignment in the body.

Practicing these poses can alleviate some of the symptoms common with scoliosis while strengthening the mind & body connection.

Here’s to your healthy spine!


This is an posterior-to-anterior X-ray of a ca...

This is an posterior-to-anterior X-ray of a case of adolescent idiopathic scoliosis – specifically, my spine. There is a thoracic curve of 30° and a lumbar curve of 53° (Cobb angle – see scoliosis). This was taken at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. The largest curve (53°) is of a magnitude typically near the lower surgery boundary, although many factors decide whether surgery is necessary on a scoliosis case. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)



Modifications in Our Practice


Giving up on something we think about everyday is a sure-fire way to not get closer to our goals.

Physically, yoga is good for the body. Mentally, yoga is good for the mind. Spiritually, yoga is good for the soul. Practicing yoga daily is good for the entire being. Yoga, in this sense, is not just the physical aspects but also the mental clarity and spirituality that is provided along with the physical. Physically, when a pose is challenging, the yogi searches mentally for a way to practice acceptance in the pose and to make the pose more available to them. A good instructor will listen to the challenges presented in the physical practice and offer modifications. Modifications do not mean “make easier”, instead, modifications are the understanding that not every yogi is 5′ 7″, narrow, and flexible. Modifications help yogis deepen the pose, as when a yoga strap is introduced to enable a deeper Paschimottanasana (seated forward fold). The yoga block lengthens arms when bending sideways into Trikonasana (triangle pose).

While these modifications, the physical ones, are obvious because they can be seen and are tangible; it is the mental modifications that make the greatest changes in the yogi’s practice. The modifications start slowly at first for a new practitioner and may take the form of an inner dialogue, “Wow, this is tough. Wait, is that twisting? or bending? Oh! I feel that, I get it. Is this how I’m supposed to look?” and after a while, that inner dialogue quiets down and another arises, “Oooh yeah! We’re practicing trikonasana! My hamstrings have been so tight! I can’t wait to get into paschimottanasana tonight!” until, the thoughts quiet altogether and the mind focuses, “Moving, flowing, breathing. Moving, flowing, breathing.” Of course, the occasional, “Wait! What? Oh. Moving, flowing, breathing.” And there it is. While it may, or may not have been a conscious modification, the mind suddenly acknowledges that the time on the yoga mat is for the yogi. It isn’t the time to think about that big work project, or the grade your kid got on that report, or even about the upcoming dinner party. It is simply time for the yogi to be present, with the breath, moving, flowing, breathing in their body. I hope you make every practice of yoga, both on and off the mat, a practice of modifications.