Yoga: A Therapy for Kyphosis

Everyday life can have major impacts on our muscular and skeletal systems. From the way we stand and sit to the pressure that we put on our bodies doing daily activities can have lasting impacts throughout the years. One major result of poor prolonged sitting posture is kyphosis, which is when the thoracic vertebrae are rounded exaggeratedly. It is normal for the spine to have a slight curve in the thoracic area, however a kypho spine can resemble the letter ‘C’ in extreme cases. It affects posture, flexibility and can lead to pain in the upper back. Many practitioners recommend yoga to individuals who experience the rounding of the spine as it can help to properly align the spine. One of the poses that helps alleviate kyphosis is mountain pose. Standing up straight, properly aligning the spine and shifting the shoulders back so that the shoulders are aligned will help to push the curve back to a normal amount. Marjaryasana, or cat pose, is also another posture that aids in kyphosis. It is done by going to table top position and slowly arching the back and then pressing it up (cow) repeatedly. This helps to stretch the spine, in a way that it may not experience during daily activities. Adho Mukha Svanasana (downward facing dog) is one of the most popular poses for realignment of the spine as it also builds strength within the erector spinae muscles. Matsyasana is another posture which helps to correct the curve of the spine. Due to the movement of the shoulder blades drawn together, this helps to open up the chest, and relieve any tightness within the pectorals major and minor which could be causing the need to round the shoulders. This fish pose targets the erector spinae muscles as well, helping to build strength within the back to create the proper strength to keep the spine straight. Bhujangasana or Cobra pose is another very therapeutic posture for rounded shoulders and curved spines as it involves the opening of the chest and curving on the spine towards the back, counteracting the forward facing curve of kyphosis. Chest opening and erector spinae strengthening postures are very important for aiding kyphosis as the shoulder muscles, including the pectoralis major and minor, and the subclavius are stretched and therefore the tension built from kyphosis decreases. The shoulders are then free to externally rotate back to the proper alignment. Kyphosis also causes the rotator cuff muscles to be weakened and therefore poses that require the conscious external rotation of the shoulder blades to squeeze them together, such as warrior 1, utthita/parivritta trikonasana, Prasarita padottanasana series, dandasana, purvottanasana and many more are very therapeutic to properly align the spine.