As someone with scoliosis (double curvature – 42 degrees & 40 degrees), I am very familiar with the visible imbalance that it has resulted in; a very major hump on my right upper back. When I was 18, I was advised by a specialist to undergo surgery to straighten my spine by half the curvature. While the benefits (less visible hump on my back and gaining about 5cm in height) were ever so tempting for a body-conscious 18 year old, I made the practical decision to pass on the surgery as I wanted to remain active in sports. I would later thank myself for making this decision as I took up pole dancing several years later and ended up loving it tremendously. This would not have been possible had I opted for the surgery to have a nicer body.
Apart from the structural imbalance, the muscular imbalance in my upper body is also very visible. My right arm, shoulder and upper back are significantly more muscular than my left because I am a right-hander and I execute most pole tricks on my right side predominantly.
Prior to starting YTT at The Yoga Mandala, I had to go for a scoliosis review to ensure that it would be safe for me to attend the course. Even though the specialist assessed that YTT would not be an issue given my condition, my X-ray revealed that my upper curvature had progressed over the years when it should have remained stagnant for most people. If my condition continued to worsen, I would probably have to undergo surgery this time round, which got me really worried as it means that I would have to give up on pole dancing, and likely yoga as well.
Getting to know that our YTT instructor Jessica had a similar scoliosis condition and managed to correct it to a large extent with the help of yoga gave me new insight into what yoga is capable of. More importantly, it gave me hope; hope that my condition can be stabilized or even improved, hope that I wouldn’t need to be faced with the devastation of having to give up my passion because of surgery.
During the first lesson of YTT, Jessica told me that my ultimate aim was to strengthen the parts of my back that were lacking so that they can pull the spine back towards midline and hold it in place. As we sat down for meditation that morning, she corrected my posture and alignment, and I was to maintain it till the end of meditation.
I was pretty confident that meditation would be a breeze; afterall it was just sitting there doing nothing but breathing. I was even worried that I might drift off while meditating as I’m not one to sit still. However, no more than 10 breaths in and I stand corrected.
It started off with some discomfort creeping in at the inner region of my right scapula and left lower back. By the end of meditation, I was absolutely dying as the slight discomfort had progressed to a tiny pinch, and on to a full-blown muscle ache, and all just from staying seated in a different posture. Jessica explained that the areas where we experienced aches were parts that had too much muscles and that we should work on the weaker side to balance them out.
I learnt the importance of finding balance in my body. But to work towards achieving balance, I first needed to really get to know my own body and identify the imbalances – some known, others newly discovered, and still more to uncover. And thus, I set off on my journey of self-discovery, and hopefully eventual transformation.
200 Hour YTT Feb-May’21