Yoga for Scoliosis

Elise Browning Miller
Year Released: 2003

Categories: Yoga

Video Fitness reviews may not be copied, quoted, or posted elsewhere without the permission of the reviewer

Show oldest reviews first

Yoga for Scoliosis features Elise Browning Miller, a yoga instructor who discovered in her 20s that yoga was the only thing which helped to control her scoliosis. Her four background exercisers each have scoliosis as well, and Elise frequently refers to their differing curvatures throughout the practice. I don't have scoliosis myself, but I was interested in trying this video in hopes that it would provide nice stretches for my back.

The main part of the DVD is broken up into three sections. The first is a short introduction (4 minutes) with Elise followed by a brief overview (1 minute) of scoliosis by an orthopedic surgeon. The next section is the 50 minute yoga practice, and the final segment is the bonus materials, including longer interviews with both Elise and the surgeon (4.5 minutes each), and six bonus yoga postures (wall stretch, down dog, shoulder stretch, warrior 1 with wall, chair twist, and 3 part pull) which are performed with props.

The yoga practice itself is broken up into three segments, with Elise providing a short introduction at the start of each segment. The first, Breathing and Spinal Lengthening Poses (16 minutes), focuses on poses to stretch out the spine. It begins with yogic breathing and then moves on to standing side and wall stretches, cat pose, puppy pose, child, down dog, and lunge. The second, Centering and Strengthening Poses (18 minutes), consists mainly of standing postures, including mountain, triangle (performed with a chair), warrior 1 & 2, and wide-legged forward bend. From a face down position, there are also simple back extensions, cobra, and child's pose. The final segment, Restorative, Releasing, and Relaxing Poses (16 minutes), includes a supported back bend (over a ball or bolster), a side stretch, chair twist, reclined hand to foot pose, revolved stomach pose, and relaxation posture.

Although I don't have scoliosis, I found this to be a nice, relaxing basic yoga practice. However, given Elise's frequent reminders about spinal curvature, the video is most ideally suited to those with scoliosis or other back conditions.

Instructor Comments:
Elise instructed well with good cueing; her voice is a bit high-pitched and may annoy some. She talks a lot about scoliosis curves, which is completely appropriate, of course, but may be tedious for those without scoliosis who try this video.

Beth C (aka toaster)


My background: To relieve back pain from scoliosis and osteoarthritis, I started doing yoga 3 years ago, using the book, Back Care Basics by Mary Pullig Schatz, MD. She has a chapter devoted to Scoliosis, and I mainly worked from this book, until I later discovered yoga videos. In internet research, I came across Elise Millerís website

which gave very useful information, links, plus yoga modifications for scoliosis. Unfortunately the modifications have now disappeared, but the articles can be found at Yoga Journal

She now has a new site, with some basic info, plus her new video/DVD and book for sale:

It was just what I was looking for, so I ordered both the DVD and booklet. There are 3 chapters, with a 17 minute sequence in each, plus a bonus chapter of 6 additional poses or modifications. Also a short interview with an orthopedic surgeon, on the benefits of yoga. I donít know if the vhs version is the same.

A. Breathing & Spine Lengthening
- Breathing with arms rising
- Side Stretch
- Wall stretch
- Right angle wall stretch
- Cat/dog pelvic tilts
- Extended puppy pose
- Childís pose
- Downward facing dog
- Lunges
- Standing forward bend
- Mountain pose

B. Centering & Strengthening
- Mountain pose
- Triangle pose,
- Warrior II
- Rest, leaning forward on back of chair
- Warrior I
- Wide angled standing pose
- Back strengtheners (superman)
- Rest in puppy pose and childís pose

C. Restorative, Releasing & Relaxing

- Passive backward bend (on bolster, rolled blanket or stability ball)
- Side lying bend, on protrusion side
- Seated chair twist
- Hamstring stretch
- External leg rotation
- Ab strengthener Ė lower straight leg slowly
- Floor twist
- Corpse pose

Bonus poses
- Right angled wall stretch, with partner holding a strap around hips
- Downward facing dog, with partner holding a strap, or looped around doorknobs
- Wall stretch for protruding shoulder blade
- Warrior I on corner, or side of door
- Chair twist, with modifications for protruding shoulder blades
- 3 part Pull Stretch, a railing or kitchen sink

My impressions: The poses are explained carefully, and done slowly enough for someone new to yoga. Including Elise, each of the 4 people have a different type of scoliosis, so you can see that personís modifications, though the camera mostly focuses on Elise. Each personís modifications and/or props are explained, with a voiceover. I watched the DVD several times, and took notes on what my specific modifications should be, so I wouldnít have to listen for them each time. It was surprisingly comforting to me, to see less than perfect, straight bodies, which is the usual in yoga videos. The set looks like a very pleasant studio, and there is soft music in the background.

The booklet is only 18 pages, one-sided, but Iím glad I have it. It has a few additional poses, not on the video, and would be good for travelling.

Instructor Comments:
Elise is a Senior Certified Iyengar teacher, very calm, pleasant and positive in her approach. I would take a workshop with her, if she were ever in my area.

Katie W