Yoga's Twist and Turns Benefits Scoliosis Patients

Yoga is a science that has been practiced for thousand of years. It is an ancient physical, mental, and spiritual practice with its roots in India going back 5,000 years. Yoga, is derived from the Sanskrit root word “Yujir Yogey”, meaning yoke or union. It includes the physical postures, breathing techniques, and relaxation that has many physical benefits such as improved posture, increased flexibility, and strength.
By combining the yoga postures with breathing awareness, one can develop symmetrical alignment of the body. This is accomplished by stretching muscles that have tightened and that have become weak from asymmetrical imbalance. With good structural balance, the body will create a more effortless posture using the bone structure, rather than overworking the muscles to hold itself up.
Yoga is highly therapeutic. Some of the ailments that can be relieved through the practice of Yoga include hyper-acidity, allergies, Alzheimer's disease, anemia, anger, anxiety, arthritis, asthma, back pain, bronchitis, cancer, carpal tunnel syndrome, common cold, constipation, and even depression.
Other ailments that can be relieved by yoga practice inclue:
• Diabetes
• Epilepsy
• Eye problems
• Facial wrinkles
• Gastrointestinal disorders
• Headaches
• Heartburn
• Hemorrhoids
• Hepatitis
• High blood pressure
• Hypertension
• Weak immune system
• Impotence
• Menopause
• Menstrual cramps
• Migraines
• Multiple sclerosis
• Various skin problems

Yoga practitioners also claim that the practice of the ancient exercise system is a good therapy for scoliosis. Through yoga, one can find that balance point which allows the scoliosis curve to coexist with gravity and activates the body's natural plumb line. The result for most people is better posture and less pain.
Scoliosis is a medical term taken from a Greek word meaning 'curvature.' This disease often develops during childhood and causes the spine to curve laterally (to the side) to the left or right. The spine's normal curves occur at the cervical (neck), thoracic (chest), and lumbar regions (lower back). These natural curves position the head over the pelvis and work as shock absorbers to distribute mechanical stress during movement.
Scoliosis only affects a small percentage of the population, or approximately two percent of the entire U.S. population. However, it has been found that scoliosis may be hereditary. If someone in the family has scoliosis, the likelihood of an incidence of another case in another family member is approximately 20 percent. The traditional medical management of scoliosis is determined by the severity of the curvature, skeletal maturity, and likelihood of progression. The conventional options are initially through observation, followed by bracing and surgery, and these procedures cost a lot.
Although many exercises help in reducing the scoliosis-related problems, yoga immediately helps improve the problem of uneven curves and is now considered to be the best scoliosis exercise. Yoga postures are helpful for providing relief from scoliosis because they enable us to stretch our body and help regain the normal shape of the spine. The most effective yoga exercises for the treatment of scoliosis-related problems include the Crocodile Twist, the Supine Knee Chest Twist, the Passive Back Arch and the One Leg Up-One Leg Out Posture. These exercises are very helpful in raising one’s lowered shoulder and reducing the back pain.
Psychologically, doing yoga is very empowering. It gives hope that we can do something to improve our condition and our quality of living. Yoga is a way of life. Choosing to do yoga for scoliosis therapy requires commitment and inner awareness. With scoliosis, it is important not expect perfection but instead accept oneself, and find one's 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, or human being, with it’s many twists and turns.
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Yoga and Knee Pain Solution

Every year, about 11 million Americans complain to doctors about knee pain. Roughly 21 million American people have osteoarthritis of the knee (a degenerative disease in which the cartilage gradually decays and fails to provide the shock absorbing padding that cushions the bones). Orthopedic surgeons performed more than 1.2 million such surgeries in 1996 alone.
In a year, about 11 million Americans complain to doctors about knee pain. Roughly 21 million American people have osteoarthritis of the knee (a degenerative disease in which the cartilage gradually decays and fails to provide the shock absorbing padding that cushions the bones). Orthopedic surgeons performed more than 1.2 million such surgeries in 1996 alone.

Many older people suffer from this painful arthritic condition, however this knee pain is not only restricted to older people but healthy young people are also getting effected by it, for example dancers, athlete for various reason.

Reason for knee injuries/ pain

Lets see what are the reason that people get knee pain. Most common risk factor for knee pain are old age, obesity, knee injuries because of hyperextension , misalignment of knee, inappropriate way of doing exercise, tight muscles or because of combination of above factors etc.

Hyperextension at the knee joint occur when the joints are overly flexible. In this case legs extend too far and move past the point of being straight. Some people may be born with this condition however most people develop it by habitually locking their knee.

Knee injuries can also occur because the way we stand and walk. For example when we stand straight we need to be aware that whether our body weight is distributed properly on both feet or not. It is not very uncommon to observe that one side of heals of people shoes is wearing out more than the other side creating imbalance at the knee joint.

Imbalance at knee joint also occurs because of underdeveloped inner quadriceps and strong outer quadriceps. In this case tendency of strong quadriceps is to pull the kneecap towards the outside of legs I.e. result in imbalance.

Knee joints in our body can be healthy if the muscles that support them are healthy I.e. both strong and supple. Tight outer hips and hamstrings put undue pressure pressure on knee joints. Athletic activity cause these muscles to tighten up and along with the aging process condition become worse (unless proper stretching are done after each workout when body is warm).

Yoga provide effective solution

Yoga is excellent for increasing strength and flexibility in knees. More and more doctors are recommending yoga to their patients who are rehabilitating after a ligament injury.

The benefit with yoga is that it helps to strengthen both the inner and outer quadriceps, which help to keep the kneecap in alignment. It strengthens the quadriceps, the hamstrings, the calves and the ankles- all fairly consistently. Strength in these areas all help to support a weak knee.

Another benefit that yoga give for the knees is the increase in blood flow and nourishment that it sends to the surrounding joints and ligaments. As with most poses in yoga, the action of squeezing a body part, and then releasing it, sends lots of nutrient rich blood to the area that was affected in the posture. Many postures do this for the knees in yoga.

Yoga posture like staff pose(Dandasana),Half downward facing dog pose (Ardha Adho Mukha Svanasana),Seat of power pose (Utkatasana Pose), simple balancing pose, Half frog pose (Ardha Bhekasana) etc can be very helpful for rejuvenating knee joints.

Practiced with care, yoga posture can contribute to the long-term health of your knees by strengthening your quadriceps, opening your stiff hips, and teaching your body improved alignment and movement patterns that transfer into your everyday activities.

Note: It is important to practice yoga with caution. Initially Some yoga posture for example, padmasana and yoga style like Ashtanga yoga mysore can be avoided. Yoga posture that are done incorrectly can actually injure the knee.

Remember most important rule in practicing yoga posture is that any slightest pain is indication from you body that something is wrong and come out of it. If starting yoga practice, it is strongly recommended that you begin in presence of qualified yoga teacher and do listen to your doctor advise.

Issued in public interest by Subodh Gupta yoga expert based in London.

Mr Subodh Gupta, Corporate Yoga Trainer has conducted more than 500 workshops on Yoga and Stress Management. He has been interviewed by various TV channels in India and London.
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