June 17, 2024

Last updated : July 1, 2024

Your spine is the core that supports your entire body. It allows you to move freely, helping you bend down to slip on your shoes, or twist to wave goodbye to a friend without so much as a thought. But while the spine powers our daily activities, it can sometimes be the source of constant pain and frustration for those with scoliosis.

Scoliosis is an abnormal, curved deformity of the spine. Braces and surgery are common treatment options for structural scoliosis, but many are now turning to yoga to stretch and strengthen the muscles affected most. If practiced properly, yoga for scoliosis can relieve pain, boost body awareness, and even straighten a curving back.

Read on to understand the types of scoliosis, how yoga can helpand safe poses for pain relief and posture alignment.

What Is Scoliosis?

Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways curvature of the spine. Instead of running straight up and down, the spine has a lateral (sideways) bend or twist to it. There can be one curve shaped like a C, or sometimes two curves that form an S-shape. The second curve often develops as the body tries to realign the head over the center of gravity. [1]

Someone with scoliosis may notice they bend or twist more easily to one side. In inverted yoga poses like Headstand (Shirshasana) or Shoulderstand (Sarvangasana), they may slightly rotate or have an unnatural curve in their spine. If the scoliosis is severe, it can put added pressure on the lungs and restrict breathing. Other symptoms of scoliosis include digestion problems and back pain.

Also Read: How Yoga Can Improve Digestion

The 4 Scoliosis Curves

The 4 Scoliosis Curves

In scoliosis, curvature can happen anywhere in the spine, but it usually follows one of four common patterns:

  1. C-Shaped Thoracic: The major curve is in the thoracic spine (mid-back, below the shoulder blades).
  2. C-Shaped Lumbar: The major curve is in the lumbar spine (lower back).
  3. C-Shaped Thoracolumbar: The major curve is between the thoracic and lumbar region.
  4. Double or S-Shaped: The major curve is in the thoracic region, with an equal counter curve in the lumbar region, creating an S-shape in the spine. [1]

What Are the Different Types of Scoliosis?

There are two main types of scoliosis: structural and non-structural (functional).

Structural Scoliosis

This is the most common form of scoliosis and can be caused by several things, including disease, injury, or a birth defect. In structural scoliosis, the spine physically curves both laterally and rotationally. This means that it not only bends to one side, but also twists and contorts in such a way that the vertebrae become misaligned. Without treatment, this curvature is usually permanent.

Non-structural/Functional Scoliosis

Non-structural scoliosis, also called functional scoliosis, happens when the spine looks curved, but is actually fine. Unlike structural scoliosis, where the spine twists and vertebrae misalign, in non-structural scoliosis, the spine only curves to one side without twisting or contorting.

This is usually caused by imbalances in the body, such as muscle spasms, differences in leg length, or problems with the pelvis. As the body tries to stay balanced and maintain symmetry, it curves the spine to make up for these issues. By dealing with the issue, we can often return the spine to its normal shape and posture.

Can Yoga Correct Scoliosis?

Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for scoliosis. Traditionally, treatments involve wearing a back brace, doing regular physical therapy, and sometimes surgery. However, most of these options are physically and emotionally difficult. The good news is that yoga can help.

In functional scoliosis, the spine is pulled out of alignment by an imbalance somewhere else in the body. Typically, the muscles on the inner side of the curve get shortened and tight, while the outer muscles get over stretched and weak. Through yoga, we can release tension and correct imbalances in the body, often returning the spine to its normal shape.

Ongoing studies into yoga for structural scoliosis also show potential benefits. Research suggests that practicing asymmetrical strengthening poses like Side Plank or Half Moon Pose could reduce the angle of primary scoliotic curves, along with other treatments. [2] [3]

When we practice yoga for scoliosis, we target specific areas in the spine and body to improve posture alignment, reduce pain, and stop the spine from curving further. These areas include:

Yoga for Scoliosis benefits for the spine

Erector Spinae

The erector spinae are a group of muscles that run along the back of your body—from your pelvis up through your spine to your neck. These muscles have three parts that work in the lower back, mid-back, and neck regions. When these muscles on both sides of the spine contract together, they straighten and extend the spine. But if the muscles only contract on one side, they cause the spine to bend sideways.

In scoliosis, the erector spinae muscles don't have even muscle tone. This muscle imbalance destabilizes the spine and causes the abnormal curving to worsen. [4] We practice yoga for scoliosis to stretch the short and tight erector spinae muscles. Poses like Child's Pose and Cat Cow can stretch these back muscles, while gentle backbends are great strengthening exercises that help stabilize the entire spine area over time.


The trapezius is a large muscle that extends across your upper back and shoulders. Parts of it attach along your mid to upper back (thoracic spine) and shoulder blades. When the trapezius fibers contract, they pull outwards, away from the spine. However, if one side is much tighter or stronger than the other, it creates an uneven pulling force.

This muscle imbalance can worsen an existing scoliosis curve or even cause a new lateral curve to develop in the spine. So, it’s important to keep this muscle flexible and evenly strong on both sides through stretching and strengthening yoga poses

Also See: 8 Seated Yoga Poses for Flexibility – A Step by Step Guide


The rhomboid muscles are located in your upper back (thoracic spine), just below your trapezius. These muscles have two main jobs:

  • They help lift and rotate your shoulder blades.
  • They pull your shoulder blades back toward your spine to keep a straight posture.

An imbalanced rhomboid on one side could cause a lateral pull in the lower neck and upper back area, making the spine curve sideways. Poses like Cat Cow and Locust Pose are often practiced in yoga for scoliosis to lengthen and strengthen these muscles. This increases shoulder mobility and allows the shoulder blades and spine to realign.

Quadratus Lumborum

The Quadratus Lumborum muscle (QL) runs from the bottom rib down to the hip bone and lower back. It plays an important role in bending the body sideways, tilting the pelvis laterally (raising one hip at a time), and extending the spine. It can also assist in arching the spine backward.

When this muscle tightens, it can pull the rib cage toward the hip bone or vice versa, making one side of the body shorter. This tension can lead to issues like lumbar scoliosis, uneven leg lengths, and lower back arching.

Side bending yoga poses help release tension in your QL and core exercises and give this muscle added strength and support.


An uneven pelvis, or lateral pelvic tilt, is one of the main causes of non-structural scoliosis. [4] This happens when one hip is higher than the other due to difference in leg length, tight hip flexors, or poor postural habits. If not corrected, the spine curves to maintain body balance.

Practicing yoga for scoliosis and other exercises can loosen and strengthen the key muscle groups that maintain pelvic alignment, such as Quadratus Lumborum, Adductors and Gluteus Medius.

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Yoga for Scoliosis: Poses to Boost Balance & Posture Alignment

Below are poses often practiced in yoga for scoliosis to bring balance back to the body and improve. posture These postures are recommended for those with non-structural scoliosis to help strengthen and release major muscles in the spine and correct imbalances in the body.

Remember, if a pose feels uncomfortable or you're not confident doing it, it's okay to skip it. The aim of this practice is to find relief, boost body awareness, and improve your posture safely.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Yoga poses for scoliosis - Tadasana - Mountain Pose

Practice Mountain Pose to strengthen your spine, improve posture, and increase harmony between the right and left sides of your body.

  1. Stand tall with your feet close together.
  2. Reach your arms up high, palms touching, and line them up with your forehead.
  3. Look up towards your hands with your eyes closed.
  4. To come out of the pose, bring your palms together in front of your chest and open your eyes slowly.

Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Triangle Pose -Trikonasana

Trikonasana, or Triangle Pose, provides a deep side stretch in your spine and your back muscles, including the QL. It’s one of the best poses to realign imbalances and reduce further spinal curvature. It also tones and strengthens your abdominals and back muscles.

  1. Stand straight with your feet shoulder-width apart.
  2. Inhale and bring your arms up next to your ears, reaching up to lengthen your spine.
  3. Place your palms together, keeping your hands in line above your forehead.
  4. Exhale and press your right heel into the floor as you reach up and out to your left side.
  5. Extend your whole upper body to the left, starting the movement at the base of your spine, keeping both sides long.
  6. To come out of the pose, inhale and return to standing position.
  7. Repeat on the other side. 

Cat Cow Pose (Marjaryasana–Bitilasana)

Yoga asanas for scoliosis - Cat Cow Pose -Marjaryasana–Bitilasana

This pose opens the spaces between your vertebrae and stretches the muscles and tendons that support your spine. The flowing movement between arching and rounding the back also releases tension in the neck and lower back.

  1. Start on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees under your hips (you can also try this seated).
  2. Inhale and arch your back, lifting your head and hips up toward the ceiling into Cow Pose. Let your belly drop down toward the floor.
  3. As you exhale, move into Cat Pose by rounding your back up toward the ceiling, tucking your chin into your chest.
  4. Continue moving slowly between these two poses, inhaling into Cow and exhaling into Cat. Focus on moving with your breath through the back body.

See: Yoga for Neck Pain: Why It’s Good & a 15-Min Flow for Instant Relief

Child's Pose (Shashankasana)

Scoliosis yoga poses - Shashankasana - Child’s Pose

Child's Pose is a resting pose that gently stretches the muscles in the spine, relieves tension, and encourages mind-body balance.

  1. Sit on your knees with your hips resting on your heels.
  2. Bend forward and place your forehead on the floor while keeping your hips on your heels.
  3. If your hips lift off your heels, separate your knees. If your hips still don't rest on your heels, place a cushion under your buttocks for extra support.
  4. Rest your arms on the floor next to your body, letting your shoulders relax into the floor. Focus on slow, easy breathing with your belly.

Corpse Pose (Shavasana)

Shavasana - Corpse Pose

Corpse Pose is great for scoliosis because it promotes full-body relaxation, helping release tension in the muscles that connect to the spine. This deep relaxation pose also boosts body and breath awareness.

  1. Lie on your back with your legs straight and relaxed.
  2. Place your feet mat-width apart, letting your toes drop outward.
  3. Position your arms about 40 degrees away from your body with palms facing up.
  4. Relax your hands and fingers.
  5. Close your eyes.
  6. Allow your entire body to feel heavy and relaxed on the floor.
  7. Focus your mind on your breathing.

Final Thought

Practicing yoga for scoliosis can help, but it’s not a simple fix. Scoliosis is different for everyone, so what works for someone else might not work for you.

If you want to try yoga to correct your posture or ease some of the symptoms, make sure you do it with a trained professional or under the guidance of your physician. It's important to tailor your practice to your own needs, and if something doesn’t feel right, stop and find an alternative that does.

At the end of the day, the main goal of yoga for scoliosis isn’t to straighten your back, but to find balance within yourself. It's a way to explore our bodies, understand them deeper, and learn to appreciate them as they are.


1. Girling, Stu. Yoga Anatomy Made Simple: Your Illustrated Guide to Form, Function, and Posture Groups. Illustrated by Bug Fawcett, revised ed., Lotus Publishing, 2023.

2. Fishman, Loren M., et al. “Serial Case Reporting Yoga for Idiopathic and Degenerative Scoliosis.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, vol. 3, no. 5, 2014, pp. 16-21, doi:10.7453/gahmj.2013.064.

3. Fishman, Loren M. “Isometric Yoga-Like Maneuvers Improve Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis-A Nonrandomized Control Trial.” Global Advances in Health and Medicine, vol. 10, 2021, p. 2164956120988259, doi:10.1177/2164956120988259.

4. Wilczyński, Jacek. “Relationship between Muscle Tone of the Erector Spinae and the Concave and Convex Sides of Spinal Curvature in Low-Grade Scoliosis among Children.” Children, vol. 8, no. 12, 2021, p. 1168, doi:10.3390/children8121168.

5. Lee, Jin Gyeong, et al. “Correlation of Radiographic and Patient Assessment of Spine Following Correction of Nonstructural Component in Juvenile Idiopathic Scoliosis.” Annals of Rehabilitation Medicine, vol. 42, no. 6, 2018, pp. 863-871, doi:10.5535/arm.2018.42.6.863.

About the author

Ram Jain

Born into a Jain family where yoga has been the way of life for five generations, my formal yoga journey began at age of eight at a Vedic school in India. There I received a solid foundation in ancient scriptures, including Vedas, Upanishads, Bhagavad Gita, and Yoga Sutras (to name a few).

In 2009, I founded Arhanta Yoga Ashrams. I see yoga as a way to master the five senses, so I named our ashrams 'Arhanta Yoga,' the yoga to master the five senses!

In 2017, I also founded Arhanta Yoga Online Academy so that people who can not visit our ashrams can follow our courses remotely.

At Arhanta, we don't just teach yoga. We teach you how to reach your potential, deepen your knowledge, build your confidence, and take charge of your life.

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