My sister was diagnosed with a moderate case of scoliosis in her early teen years. Like many brothers of girls with the condition, I have a slight bend of the spine in roughly the same place as her more pronounced curvature. Even though it’s caused fairly predictable lower back pain over the years, my situation is nothing compared to what my sister endured. For two years during her adolescence, she had to wear a back brace: an unwieldy, difficult contraption indeed. Fortunately, it worked for her and her spine is now in great shape.
For me, a disciplined yoga practice turned out to be the long-term answer to my mild scoliosis-induced lower back pain.
My number one position for relieving persistent lower back pain is the Full Lotus position (Padmasana). It has the most amazing effect on the spine, taking all the pressure off it and allowing one to sit comfortably for long periods without strain or the need for support. As most readers of Yoga Flavored Life no doubt know, it’s quite remarkable in its simplicity! Ancient yogis discovered it in their search for a meditative position in which the body would be perfectly balanced, allowing the seeker to sit for extended periods without bodily interference.
Here’s a lovely gatha regarding Padmasana, one that expresses a compassionate intention for all sentient beings:
When sitting in the full-lotus posture,
I vow that all living beings
will have solid good roots
And attain the Unmoving Ground.
(FAS Ch11 127)
(The “Unmoving Ground” referenced here represents an interesting parallel to the Paul Tillich’s definition of divinity. The 20th century German theologian called God “The Ground of All Being.”)
Another wonderful antidote to persistent lower back pain is the Bow Pose, or Dhanurasana. (Does anyone out there know an inspiring gatha about this pose? I just lost my connectivity and thus my access to the online source that provided the gatha above!)
Designed to stretch the spine, Dhanurasana is a great way to take pressure off your back and relieve pain. I find that when I hold this position for three full breaths, I experience both pain relief and a sense of being more fully at home in my own body. The picture above suggests an excellent way to proofread your writing (with the possible exception of the fact that you need a friend—or your nose—to move the cursor for you!).