Yoga, meaning yoke or union, is an ancient physical mental and spiritual practice with its roots going back 5,000 years to India. The practice of hatha yoga which includes the physical postures, breathing techniques and relaxation has many physical benefits such as improved posture and increased flexibility and strength.
The body with scoliosis has developed a highly sophisticated compensating 'act' and it can also learn a more refined symmetrical 'act' with proper instruction. By combining the yoga postures with breathing awareness, one can develop a structural alignment, creating a more normal symmetrical alignment. This is accomplished by stretching muscles that have tightened and strengthening muscles that have become weak from this asymmetrical imbalance. Thereby the body will create a more effortless posture using the bone structure, rather than over working the muscles to hold itself up. Through yoga, one can find that balance point that allows the scoliosis curve to coexist with gravity and activates the body's natural plumb line. The result for most people with scoliosis is better posture and less pain.
Choosing to do yoga for scoliosis requires commitment and inner awareness. With scoliosis, it is important to not expect perfection but instead accept oneself, and find ones own optimal alignment and center. As there is beauty in the straight alignment of a palm tree, there is also beauty of an oak tree with it’s many twists and turns. Psychologically, doing yoga is very empowering. It gives hope that we can do something to improve our condition and our quality of living.
Check out the New York Times article from March, 2014 featuring Deborah!
Having practiced yoga since 1994, Deborah found through the patience and skill of her teacher Alison West that practicing alignment-based yoga could control back pain and arrest the progression of her scoliosis.
That awareness inspired her to complete Alison West’s Yoga Union Teacher Training in 2000. Deborah then studied Yoga and Scoliosis with Bobbie Fultz, completed Karin Stephan's Advanced Studies Program in Therapeutics and Healing in 2003 and was certified as a Yoga for Scoliosis teacher through Elise Browning Miller's teacher training in 2005. In 2002, Ms. West invited Deborah to teach the scoliosis segment of the Yoga Union Teacher Training and since then she has taught Yoga & Scoliosis workshops in New York City, nationwide and in Europe. She continues her bi-annual teacher training scoliosis workshops for Yoga Union and for Karin Stephan's Advanced Studies Program. In 2003 she created the first weekly Yoga & Scoliosis class on the East Coast. Weekly Back Care classes and tri-annual scoliosis workshops are offered atYogasana Center for Yoga in Park Slope, Brooklyn.
Now, with Alison West, she Co-Directs the Yoga Union Center for Backcare and Scoliosis and teaches a wide variety of classes for students with back problems and scoliosis including specialty classes for children and classes for students with Harrington Rods and other spinal fusions.
For information on upcoming workshops, classes and private lessons please contact Deborah at dwolkYoga@gmail.com or call 212-677-0064.
Elise Miller, M.A. in Therapeutic Recreation from the University of North Carolina, is a Senior Certified Iyengar Yoga teacher from Palo Alto who has been teaching yoga throughout the United States and internationally since 1976. As a founding director of the California Yoga Center in Mountain View and Palo Alto, CA, Elise teaches classes and workshops specializing in back and sports-related injuries and is a faculty member at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco.
This DVD provides a beginning home practice for anyone with major scoliosis to minor imbalances throughout the body. These poses will empower you to take charge of your own back to improve posture and reduce pain and discomfort. This DVD is based on a therapeutic yoga program that Elise has developed for her own scoliosis and has been used with countless clients around the world.