Yoga For Scoliosis and Spinal Injury

Scoliosis and its Impact

Scoliosis is an abnormal curving of the spine.  Everyone’s spine has a small natural curve. However, people with Scoliosis have a spine that curves too much, and on an X-ray the spine might look like the letter “C” or “S.”

Symptoms of Scoliosis may include:

  • Uneven musculature on one side of the spine
  • A rib prominence and/or a prominent shoulder blade, caused by rotation of the ribcage in thoracic Scoliosis
  • Uneven hips, arms or leg lengths
  • Slow nerve action

Scoliosis can either be structural or functional. The structural variety is more serious and develops as a result of unequal growth of the two sides of the vertebral bodies.  It usually appears during adolescence, and its causes are not well understood. Approximately, 70% of all structural Scoliosis are idiopathic which means that doctors do not know why they develop.

The functional Scoliosis variety however, only affects the back muscles and does not structurally alter the body.   Functional Scoliosis can result from poor posture or repeated unbalanced activity, such as always carrying books or heavy bags on one side.  Functional Scoliosis is more common than structural Scoliosis as it is usually less noticeable since the degree of the curve is less and has a greater chance of being reversed.

How Yoga for Scoliosis with Allaine Stricklen May Help You

The practice of Yoga, applied with intelligence, embodied awareness and compassion, offers much change in this terrain.

Allaine’s style of Gentle Therapeutics Yoga, explores the applied anatomy and kinesiology of the spine, both in symmetry and asymmetry, and its function in Yoga. Through the intelligent use of props (Yoga equipment), Students are invited to explore and create balanced spinal length, search for de-rotation, and begin to re-map the body’s kinesthesia. Props offer clarification of the action in asana, deeply penetrate the body and awaken and enliven the body’s consciousness.  A particular emphasis is placed on standing asanas, in eliciting lumbar spinal stability and integrity through the use of the legs, and their relationship with the spine. Similarly, the dialogue of the upper limbs to torso, informs the thoracic spine, shoulder girdle and ribcage, and the unfurling rainforest of the lungs.

A deep acknowledgement of the support of the organic body, the pathways of breath and developmental patterns inform these processes in a rich layering. Allaine’s work seeks to bring consciousness, compassion and sensitivity to the natural wholeness of the body’s geography. She works emphatically, with humor, offering precision and alignment based focus to retrain both anatomically and physiologically.  Helping someone with Scoliosis to feel pain- free and more conscious of their mind, body and breath.


Case Study: Deborah Meltzer

Name: Deborah Meltzer

Age: 55

Start date for practicing yoga: year, 2000

Style of yoga practiced: Sivananda, Vinyasa flow, restorative, and Iyengar

Diagnosis was also confirmed by 2 orthopedic doctors as 10 degree curvature of the left thoracic lumbar spine.

Root cause: may be genetic and exacerbated by snow ski accident 20 years ago that resulted in total hip replacement 3 years ago. Prior to surgery, gait was affected and pelvis was out of alignment.

Deborah’s family has a history of arthritis and low bone density. Deborah has since learned that her mother and grandmother (both deceased) probably suffered from mild scoliosis without being diagnosed.
Deborah practiced Pilates for 15 years prior to her diagnosis which most likely served to strengthen her core and protect her lower back. Despite practicing
yoga for over 12 years and regularly getting massages, oddly enough her scoliosis was never identified by therapists, doctors, or instructors!

Prior to working with Allaine, Deborah felt pinching in her right shoulder, protrusion in her left rib cage, and was feeling mild lower back discomfort.

Deborah benefitted from Allaine’s guidance in her Yoga practice. She also felt that Allaine’s positive affirmations and therapeutic approach to healing was critical to her improvement. Allaine is a gifted instructor with a caring heart and healing hands.

Case Study: Gwendolyn Dernis

Name: Gwendolyn Dermis

Age: 39

Start date for practicing Yoga: year, 2006

Style of Yoga practiced: Bikram. Vinyasa flow, Restorative, Ashtanga, Gentle Therapeutics Yoga

Scoliosis diagnosis: first discovered in college diagnosis was confirmed by several chiropractors as a 29 degree c curve left thoracolumbar. Right thoracic compensation. Right lower lumbar discomfort.

Root cause: may be genetic and exacerbated by many years of playing a musical instrument which required unnatural skeletal alignment (Gwen plays the viola and attended college for her instrument.  She started playing at 8 years old)

Gwen’s family has a history of Scoliosis.  Her mother has a severe s curve which is most likely greater than 50 degrees.  Her mother also has cracked vertebrate in her neck as a result of the Scoliosis.  In an attempt to ward off Gwen from the severe
Scoliosis her mom has, her family started her on chiropractic adjustments at the age of 12.  Unfortunately, her Scoliosis was still overlooked until she was approximately 21.

Gwen has suffered from severe neck and upper back pain since she was approximately 18 years of age. During her years as a Music Major she often practiced 3-4 hours a day.  The pain was exasperated during this period and she said it often felt like a knife was being stabbed in her left shoulder area.

After Gwen had her second child, she could no longer effectively function without constant pain and she began to practice Yoga to try and find relief.

Gwen has had a major shift in her alignment and relief of pain from practicing with Allaine.  Although Gwen had an established Yoga practice prior to Allaine’s guidance, she realized after practicing with other Teachers that in fact she was reinforcing bad alignment in her practice.

However, after studying with Allaine this helped Gwen to recognize which Asanas needed modification in order to effectively help with her specific pain and curvature.  Allaine also helped Gwen to understand how some of her asana practice reflected stressors in her life and helped her to see how working through positive affirmations could help her on and off the mat. Gwen greatly benefited from her work with Allaine and is excited to pass on her knowledge as a recent registered Yoga Teacher of Gentle Therapeutics Yoga.

Photos: Before & After