I was diagnosed with mild scoliosis about five years ago when I went to a chiropractor for the first time. (I had skipped ahead in kindergarten, so when we were all checked for scoliosis in school, I was a bit younger than the rest of the kids and my curve hadn’t developed yet. Also, back then, the checks were given by our teachers in the gym by running a finger up our spine, so not sure on the accuracy of those tests at the time.) After visiting a different chiropractor last year in my new town, she wanted to take some x-rays. I found out then that my spine’s curve was actually close to 25 degrees, which meant that it was actually true scoliosis and not considered “mild” at all. I definitely consider myself very lucky that my s-curve is not severe enough to require surgery or braces, I do deal with a handful of symptoms related to my back and neck on a regular basis, including headaches, tingly fingers, dizziness, uneven shoulders, and neck, back, and shoulder pain, which can knock me out of work or dance class or the gym for a day or so. I’ve had physical therapy, regular chiropractor regimens, massage therapy; all of which have helped to varying degrees, but also negatively affect my bank account.
Something that I’ve found that truly helps – something that I can do at home and for no money – is regular yoga. Stretching and strengthening my spine and neck muscles has proven to reduce my headaches and dizziness and made me feel more comfortable in my crooked body. (And I say that with absolute love of my crooked body!) Obviously, I know that yoga can and will not straighten my back, and I know that just stretching won’t be a good solution for every person in this situation, but this is what works for me at this time in my life.
HOWEVER, lots of stuff in my life has changed in the past year, which has lead my yoga practice to basically stop completely. Last summer, we began to house hunt, ended up buying a home, moved almost 50 miles away from where we had lived before, and I got a new job with a different schedule than I had been on for three years prior and had me on my feet for the majority of the week. Adjusting to all of these changes took time, and the gym and the yoga mat suffered.
But, I am ready to change that now! I’m challenging myself to get back into regular yoga with my own 30 day challenge: hit the mat for ANY amount of time, but do it at least once a day. I plan to blog about this as I go, just as sort of a journal so I can see my progress, my thoughts on specific videos or poses, and anything else relevant that I notice during each practice. Later on, I plan to blog about my thoughts on yoga’s affect on my mental health, as well, and not just my spinal health. Once I hit 30 days, we’ll see where I’ll go next.
30 Day Yoga Challenge: Day One
The first of two videos I did today was one of Sarah Beth’s scoliosis practices. Sarah Beth has been one of my favorite yogi YouTubers since I first started five years ago. Her videos are beautiful and simple, so it’s easy to see what she’s doing. She also has scoliosis and is from Minnesota, which obviously wins some points, too! I had not done this video before, but I’m glad I did today. It was slow, gentle, and challenging enough without being too hard. It was mentally pretty tough for me to notice how difficult some stretches were that were fairly easy a few years ago, but remembering how I could hit the poses back then gives me something to strive towards. On bad days, even standing in mountain pose or laying in child’s pose feels difficult.
The second video I watched was by everyone’s favorite bendy straw, Adriene. Yoga with Adriene is a channel that I for sure have less experience with compared to Sarah Beth, but after trying a few of her practices over the past year or so, I get why she’s so popular. While Sarah Beth is more soothing and serious, Adriene brings a different energy to the videos. I love the visuals she describes during poses, like in this one, explaining that while we’re doing some twists, it’s like wringing out a sponge, and I love her puppy that chills next to the mat. Doing this right after the first video was a great idea, too – the first one was a gentle warm up, while this one picked up the pace a bit. I prefer quicker flows in yoga, because the fluid movements help distract my brain from what’s going on and I can get a nice little yoga trance going. There were also some pose variations in this video that I had not previously done, which I liked a lot!
- The Warrior II > Reverse Side Angle > Triangle > Reverse Warrior combo is one of my favorites to release shoulder tension.
- My nose got completely clogged up by the end; not sure if it’s the weather or the fact I haven’t done this for a while, but I could not breathe out of my nose for a while! Musta been all that detox. 😉
- While my neck and back are the main focus, my curve also affects my whole body, so hip openers are another main area I want to work on.
- I have always and still do hate downward dog. Even in my best of shape, I hated that pose. Don’t @ me.
Namaste and see you tomorrow!
Disclaimer: I am so so so so so not even close to being a medical professional and the same goes for being a professional yoga instructor. All I’m doing is journaling my personal experiences regarding my physical health and my yoga practice, please do not follow any of this instead of going to a physician yourself. I do not believe YouTube is a substitution for true medical care, but can be a supplement to what you and your doctor decide what’s best for you!