MY STORY WITH SCOLIOSIS
Living with Scoliosis doesn’t mean that you should stop doing any of your daily activities or live differently.
I started practicing at the age of 28 (almost 10 years ago), since then I feel better and have been able to manage my back pain, not only that, but I also became more confident. (I honestly wish I discovered yoga at a younger age, but I also believe that everything happens for a reason.)
Living with scoliosis has allowed me to better understand the human body and helped me start my yoga journey.
Yoga helps me manage pain, work on weaker muscles, and lengthen shorter ones so I can feel more balanced within.
Yoga is not only about physical exercise, but also has a spiritual aspect and helps align the mind and soul.
Scroll down to read more about my story
The human body is not only made of bones!
I was diagnosed with scoliosis at the age of 11. My thoracic curve is the major curve, I ignored it for so long because when I first discovered it, it was a traumatic experience, and at that young age everyone was telling me that I have an abnormal spine. I chose to just ignore it and not talk about it. I felt alone and I thought I was the only one with this condition, so I did everything I could to hide it and didn’t do any exercise because I was afraid people would notice it. Due to a lack of awareness, I didn't even do any checkups or exercises to correct it or even try to maintain the curve and stop it from progressing.
This made it worse over time and I became even more self-conscious about it.
Scoliosis affects the alignment in the body which sometimes causes the body to not look “perfect”. This perception can cause emotional problems, especially for teenage girls, and women in general, who have this condition and are affected by the social pressures that only value the “perfect” body.
My advice is not to let any of these social pressures affect you or the way you look at yourself. You should always believe in yourself and be proud of who you are.
I was feeling like that before I started yoga but after I got more into it, it helped me to gain self-confidence and although I can’t say it corrected my alignment 100%, it did make me feel more comfortable in my own body.
HOW YOGA HELPED ME?
I completed my yoga training in 2019, but even then, I still didn't know why some postures would feel good afterwards and in others I would feel twisted and rounded. So, I did a little digging and I discovered that there was yoga specially designed for scoliosis, but it was only available outside Egypt. I got in touch with some trainers and did several workshops and online sessions, until I finally decided to travel to London to take the training in March 2020.
I have completely changed my practice since then. I even stopped my regular yoga practice for a few months to get accustomed to my new adjustments (especially that I had to do them on my own without the help or guidance of an in-person teacher) so when I do regular yoga now, I do my own adjustments naturally without even thinking about it.
The reason I fell in love with yoga is that it taught me that everyone is different, and we should embrace this difference. Difference is what makes me who I am. It is part of me.
It has always been a sensitive issue to me, I always avoided talking about it, and I tried to hide it as much as possible. I felt ashamed and I can't remember how many times I cried because of it, especially whenever someone pointed it out to me (like I didn’t know already), that was until I started practicing yoga.
Yoga helped me physically in that I stopped having constant back pain but more importantly it helped me on an emotional and psychological level.
Once in a yoga class, a fellow student referred to my protruding shoulder blade as my wing! She was assisting the main teacher. A few years back, I would have been offended, but today I feel that it's OK, it's part of me and part of who I am. I even think it's kind of cute.
I attended an intense course about scoliosis and have been reading and learning about how yoga can help with scoliosis, and in all the books and videos I saw referred to the protruding part as a ‘hump’, ‘hunchback’ or (maybe this is the cutest) ‘mountain side’. So, I think to call it a ‘wing’ is way cuter and more acceptable.
Yoga is not about flexibility or posting sexy photos in handstands, splits or being able to put your leg around your neck, it's about self-acceptance, it's about being OK with who you are regardless of your difference; it’s a mindset.
I can’t think of a more positive description of my difference than ‘wing’.
So, embrace whatever difference you have and spread your wings whatever shape they come in and never be ashamed of anything that makes you who you are.
PROGRESS & GUIDANCE
Scoliosis can cause emotional as well as physical pain. Some people suffer constant back pain and for me sometimes it was so bad I couldn't even sleep, but since starting yoga it has gotten a lot better.
For me, the curvature degree is just a medical term for doctors to monitor the progress, but the degree doesn’t define the level of pain, I’ve seen people with a very mild curve with extreme pain and others with a severe curve but with very little pain.
So, progress for me does not depend on the level of the curve as much as how I feel and how I manage my life living with scoliosis, and if the scoliosis is not affecting any vital organs, then there is no need for surgery that might add some limitations to my movement.
Scoliosis can be managed with the correct exercise and guidance as well as dedication and commitment. With scoliosis, it's very important to focus on the right muscles to feel aligned and pain free. Guidance from someone experienced in scoliosis, can help you in dealing with the pain and improving your practice to so that it feels better.
Remember, it's never too late to act. If I can do it, so can you!