Teaching Yoga for Spinal Stenosis - Aura Wellness Center

Teaching Yoga for Spinal Stenosis

 Yoga for Spinal StenosisBy Dr. Paul Jerard, E-RYT 500, YACEP

Is Yoga for spinal stenosis safe? Yes, but there are facts a Yoga teacher should know. Spinal stenosis is a condition that causes the narrowing of the spinal canal. This can lead to pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs and feet. Yoga can help to relieve some of the symptoms of spinal stenosis by stretching the spine and relieving pressure on the nerves. Some of the best Yoga poses for spinal stenosis include Downward Dog Pose, Cat-Cow Pose, and Child’s Pose.


Is Yoga Safe for Spinal Stenosis?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to whether or not yoga is good for spinal stenosis. However, many people with this condition find that practicing yoga can help alleviate their symptoms. Yoga can help stretch and strengthen the muscles around the spine, which can help reduce pain and improve mobility. Yoga’s deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help reduce stress and promote overall well-being. If a student is considering Yoga for spinal stenosis, consult it is wise to consult a doctor first to ensure it’s safe.


Professional Consultation

Before starting a Yoga practice, it is always best for students to consult with a doctor, especially if there are any pre-existing conditions. This is especially important for those with spinal stenosis. Yoga can help relieve some symptoms of spinal stenosis, but it is important to teach safe poses. A doctor familiar with Yoga can help determine which poses are safe to do and which ones to avoid.



Depending on the severity of spinal stenosis, some yoga poses may have to be modified. For example, if spinal stenosis is in the lower back, you’ll want to avoid poses that pressure that area. This means no deep backbends. Poses arching your back or lying on your stomach can aggravate the condition. Instead, try doing poses that strengthen the muscles around your spine and improve your flexibility. Baby Cobra and Half Camel Pose are classic examples of kinder and gentler backbends.


What Not to Do

When teaching Yoga to students with Spinal Stenosis, it is important to avoid any poses that put pressure on the spine or require the head to be lower than the heart. This means no headstands, shoulder stands, or handstands. Poses should also be slow and controlled so as not to jar the spine. Students should focus on lengthening the spine and opening up the chest.


What Should Students Know?

When suffering from spinal stenosis, students need to avoid any activities that may put additional strain on the spine. These activities include lifting heavy objects, quickly bending over, and standing for long periods. It is also important to avoid sudden movements or twisting of the spine. Instead, gentle stretching and strengthening exercises are recommended to help ease the symptoms of spinal stenosis.


Preventing Injuries with Warm Ups

Warming up before practicing yoga is important because it helps to loosen the muscles and increase blood flow. It is especially important for spinal stenosis because they often have tight muscles around their spine. Warming up helps to reduce the risk of injury and makes the yoga practice more comfortable.


Is it Possible to Reverse Spinal Stenosis Naturally?

There are many different opinions on whether or not it is possible to reverse spinal stenosis naturally. Some people believe it is possible, while others think it is not. There is no definitive answer, but there are some things that we can do to try to improve life quality. One of these things is practicing yoga. Yoga for spinal stenosis can help stretch and strengthen the back muscles, which may help alleviate some of the pain. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle and avoiding risky activities that could worsen this condition are also important. If you have spinal stenosis, you must talk to your doctor about how to manage your condition.


Side Notes for Yoga Teachers

The short story is steep inversions, sudden twists, forward folds, and deep backbends are very risky for people with spinal stenosis. If possible, evaluation starts on the stomach. If a student can’t get there, backbends are out. Sometimes, a student can get to the stomach without pain. When the student is mobile on the floor, a natural Locust Pose, without using the hands for leverage, tells us the natural limit for a backbend.


What Else Should a Yoga Teacher Know?

Mountain pose is also a good starting point for painful cases. All Fours (Table) Pose is also a starting point for evaluating the spine and range of motion.  It’s worth repeating; slow warm-ups are an absolute must. Gentle classes with teachers who know how to modify are a good fit. Slowly folding at the hips with a straight back is important when keeping Yoga for spinal stenosis safe. The style, class, and teacher need to fit the student’s needs.


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Practicing Yoga consistently under the guidance of a trained and qualified teacher can be extremely rewarding. Yoga has the potential to purify your mind, keep you physically fit, and equip you with energy to keep you going in this crazy, fast-paced world. Yoga in the form of yoga asanas or yoga postures and pranayama or yogic breathing techniques can help you stay fit. Researchers have also started to examine their therapeutic impact on various medical conditions. Research studies have shown that pranayama can positively impact anxiety and stress-related disorders. This article will specifically focus on whether Yoga, through its various forms, can help improve one’s spinal health.


Improving Spinal Health

Spinal-related issues, including back and low-back pain, have been a cause of many people’s worry. One cannot undermine the importance of having a healthy spine. While spinal injuries can be serious, they also easily hinder human beings from performing their most routine and basic day-to-day activities. While there are yoga exercises aimed at healing spinal injuries or improving one’s spinal health in general, in this article, we will examine what research studies talk about the therapeutic aspects of yoga in improving one’s spinal health.


Alternative Medicine

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, states that research studies have showcased that yoga can benefit people with low-back pain. In 2009, the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), again a part of the US Department of Health and Human Sciences, funded research activities to examine the impact of Iyengar yoga, a form of Hatha yoga, on chronic low-back pain. Studies revealed that yoga reduced functional disability, depression, and pain in people (research participants) suffering from chronic low-back pain.


Decreasing Symptoms

Further, research studies funded by NCCAM in 2011 revealed that yoga, primarily Viniyoga, effectively decreased chronic low back pain symptoms. It was a better alternative to using a self-care book for low-back pain patients. However, the research studies also revealed that yoga was not as effective as conventional stretching exercises, which yielded more long-lasting benefits.


Short and Long-Term Effectiveness

Research published in 2013 in The Clinical Journal of Pain claimed that there was strong evidence that suggested that yoga therapy was effective on people (research participants) with chronic low-back pain. The research study stated that yoga therapy demonstrated both short-term and long-term effectiveness. The research studied the impact of Hatha Yoga, Iyengar Yoga, Viniyoga, and some yoga postures not following any particular style on patients suffering from chronic lower back pain.

Mental and Physical Health Improvements

Research studies have started to suggest that various forms of yoga can positively impact reducing back or low-back pain and improving spinal health in general. It may be a good idea to start practicing yoga to improve your spinal and overall mental and physical health. We recommend that you begin with the basics of yoga before proceeding to advanced levels.


About Yoga for Spinal Stenosis

Yoga can be extremely beneficial for those suffering from spinal stenosis. Both mental and physical health improvements have been documented in people who practice yoga regularly. The slow, controlled movements help to strengthen the muscles around the spine and improve flexibility. This can lead to less pain and more mobility. In addition, deep breathing and relaxation techniques can help to ease stress and anxiety.

Consult Professionals First

The most crucial point to state here is that be it basic or advanced Yoga, ensure to practice yoga only under the guidance of a well-qualified yoga teacher. And if you are a patient with back pain, tailbone trauma, or any other form of spinal injury, discuss it with your medical practitioner before you practice Yoga. Also, if your medical practitioner permits you to take up Yoga as additional therapy, ensure that you discuss the symptoms and health issues you are facing with your Yoga teacher in detail.


© Copyright – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

Related Resources

Cramer, Holger, et al. “A systematic review and meta-analysis of yoga for low back pain.” The Clinical journal of pain 29.5 (2013): 450-460.

Sherman KJ, Cherkin DC, Wellman RD, et al. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med.2011;171(22):2019-2026. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2011.524.

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5 thoughts on “Teaching Yoga for Spinal Stenosis”

  1. Various forms of yoga have a positive impact on reducing back or low-back pain, and improving spinal health in general. Thanks for sharing this nice article.

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