Yoga and Chiropractic Adjustments

“Yoga is the fountain of youth. You’re only as young as your spine is flexible.” ~Bob Harper

I have been to a few different chiropractors over the years. The first one I ever went to was a strong proponent of yoga. At one point she told me that if all of her patients practiced yoga she would loose 80% of her business. Eighty percent!!! That’s huge! I was shocked by her statement, yet at the same time, not surprised.

Why do people go to chiropractors? Injury, pain, preventative medicine, to feel better. Yoga, if practiced properly, may help with the first two, yet primarily it works with the latter two.

I have long believed myself that yoga is a form of self-chiropractic care. There’s probably more than a few chiropractors out there that would have a thing or two to say about that and whether it’s safe etc. My thought is that no one knows my body better than I do. No one else lives inside my skin, knows what I know or feels what I feel. Generally I believe that if something feels right, it has got to be right… how could it be wrong?

If I practice yoga in a way that feels good in my body, 100% of the time, I will do no harm. If I do something and all of the sudden it doesn’t feel right, I get out of it immediately. I don’t push into pain or do anything that feels like it compromises the integrity of the joints.

I get spinal adjustments all the time in my yoga practice, most of the time they are small, sometimes they are bigger. Generally it’s a pop or a crack, every now and again it is a full-on adjustment where the whole pelvis shifts its orientation. I believe that this is fine and healthy, why? Because it feels good. Because I enjoy it; I look forward to when it does happen and feel better after. It gives me a sense of relief. This usually happens in twists and most often in supine twists (those performed laying down on the back).

For some students this experience of cracking, popping or spinal adjustments in certain postures can be surprising and of concern because it is the unknown and one can feel uncertain in the unknown. Go by how it feels. If it gives you a sense of relief, if it feels good, if it feels right, go with that, trust your instinct, your intuition.

I don’t discount the benefit of chiropractors. I think that they are great. I love going to see them. They serve a purpose. I also cherish the ability to be empowered in my self-care routine and not so dependent on others to help me feel well. If you have the means to see a chiropractor and you feel the desire, or the need, by all means do so. Especially if you have been injured, have pain or been inactive for many years.

I just think that it is important for people to realize how much power they have at their disposal to indeed take care of themselves and to feel well. Once you learn some basic yoga you have it for life. It is yours, you can do it just about anywhere and often without any special equipment.

Our bodies are made to move. They start to get cranky, creaky and eventually stiff without movement. One of the reasons yoga is so beneficial is because it works with increasing the range of motion of the body as a whole. Yoga helps us to keep the spine and the whole body working properly thereby increasing our ability to enjoy the experience of living in our own skin.

12 thoughts on “Yoga and Chiropractic Adjustments”

  1. I totally agree with you. About a year ago I was injured from doing a workout that had me twisting quickly from side to side and something moved. I went to my chiropractor and he could not get to the area to get it to pop back. One evening after doing a yoga workout by Bob Harper I was doing Ardha Matsyendrasana and something between my hips popped back into place. Ahhh what a relief! To say the least I have not been back to my chiropractor since because I have not had that problem.

    1. Hi Joelle, It’s great to hear that your self adjustment held and that the problem didn’t come back. I’m sure that there is also something to be said about skill levels and that while one chiropractor was not able to get the bone back into place another might have been able to do so. There could also be other factors involved in a situation like that as well… how comfortable we feel at the hands of that practitioner, how willing we are in that moment to let go and surrender to the adjustment etc. In our own yoga practice we are at the helm, we are steering the ship of our own body, and in postures like Ardha Matsyendrasana we are able to know from inside just how much force, how much surrender, where to emphasize it, how long to hold it etc. so that it gives us just what we need. Thanks for sharing your experience : ) Warmly, Robyn.

  2. My chiropractor actually suggested yoga for me. However, he didn’t say what kind of yoga to try…I thought yoga was yoga was yoga. As you know, that is not the case. Eventually, I learned the style of yoga that was best suited for my needs. Yoga has been very beneficial and I have come a long way. Here’s to feeling better :)

    1. Hi Joceline, That is sometimes one of the challenges people experience who are new to the world of yoga… realizing that there is a huge variety of styles and that it comes through different instructors in different ways. Often people try one class and think it’s not for them, when really that style of yoga or that teacher is not a good fit for that student. I’m glad that you stuck with it to find one that works for you and that you are feeling better because of it. It really is a great tool for keeping the spine healthy. Thanks for your comment : )

  3. As a chiropractor and a yoga instructor I think that both are great and work wonders TOGETHER!!! Yoga wil help to maintain your spine in proper alignment and integrate the benefits to your nervous system (chiropractic is not defined by the pop, and there are many techniques that involve no cracking), that are the true purpose and function of chiropractic, AND chiropractic will allow you to deepen your yoga practice, and keep you practicing through hard times. The effect is definitely 1+1=5!!!

    I practice in a Yoga studio and teach functional anatomy courses to Yoga instructors because I believe so deeply in the combination of Yoga and Chiropractic. If you look at it as an either or choice, rather then an extremely potent combination, you are limiting your options and potential growth.

    1. Hello Michael, I appreciate you continuing the conversation… I never meant to portray it as an either/or scenario… They are, most definitely, a powerful combination. Thanks again for sharing your thoughts and insight with us from your unique perspective.

  4. I’ve been doing yoga for 10 years and it has always helped me to maintain optimal physical and mental health, Just recently I overstretched my one of the muscles connected to my hip while twisting my torso to the right during pigeon, all though it felt great while stretching, the next day I had dull pain and a numb sensation in my hip. i thought i’d try chiropractic care. I had xrays done on a friday and came back for an adjustment on monday and over the weekend the pain and numbness went away. I went ahead with the adjustments to see how it would feel and if it would help align my spine even more…..yhe actual adjusting was really unpleasant….it was jarring and felt very unnatural,
    It’s been a couple of hours and i feel kind of sore, I’m going to yoga class and wonder if i will feel a diference in my cobra since my thoracic curve has been adjusted…..don’t think chiropractic is for me

  5. I have had two children, and since then, to say that I am out of alignment is a severe understatement! I continuously have tightness in shoulders and lower back, problems with my hips and knees, and an over all feeling of discomfort. I have done yoga, and it makes me feel amazing! I love love love doing it! However, I recently spoke with a chiropractor, and I was told that doing yoga while you’re out of alignment is not a good idea, because it strengthens the muscles in the unaligned position. I have heard amazing things about chiropractors, but I’m not convinced it’s for me. By doing yoga can my body naturally align itself? Or am I doing more harm than good?

    1. Hi Emily,
      Great question! It is important to learn yoga properly and learn as much about proper alignment as you can. You do want to put the body into proper alignment, as best you can, and strengthen it in good form. I do not believe that not doing yoga is the answer. You just have to practice consciously, safely, at your own pace and with a practice that is right for you. The general rule of thumb is, if it feels good it probably is good. And, if you feel better after doing it than before, in the hours that follow, you know you are practicing in a way that is healthy and good for your body. It is possible for the body to naturally align itself with yoga (if practiced properly). However, keep in mind that this is not a quick fix, it takes consistent practice over a long period of time to really make changes in the bones and in alignment. It is like getting braces for your teeth… it is a slow process that can take years. Yet in the end, it is worth it. I hope that helps : )

  6. Thanks for sharing your incredible self healing experience with yoga! It’s great to see others having the same profound responses from this wonderful practice. I have dealt with debilitating chronic neuromuscular issues most of my adult life. After practicing yoga pretty much full time I started coming out of the darkness of my condition including depression and minimized pain substantially. My profound moment was when I experienced a series of cracks in my sacrum in pose of the root lock while pulling in my belly button and massaging my hamstring! Since then I have adjusted my right hip and both shoulders as well. I never would have dreamed that I would feel ‘normal’ in my body. In fact I have gone from’ dis-ease’ to’ completely blissed out’ as one fellow yogi put it! I was seeing a beloved chiropractor at the time I started my yoga practice up until recently. I stopped just because as I am deepening my practice now it seems like my body tells me where the adjustments need to be made:)

  7. I have exercised all my life. Pain in my shoulder and sciatica down my right leg, relieved by stretching in a very warm room, I relieved the pain within three months. Recently, I hurt my neck and lower back from lifting too much, feeling like I compressed my spine. I remembered how stretching helped and started looking into yoga. Wow! What inspiring things I have read. With so many yoga styles talked about, which does one choose? I have a straight forward neck I need to be careful with and bring back the nature curve. I believe yoga to be my next journey and forever enjoyed.

    1. Hi Tristen, Yoga is an amazing practice… I’m happy to hear about your interest. You do want to take care though with all that you have going on in your spine. If you can get into see a physical therapist I would recommend it, so that you can get a better idea of what is happening and how to proceed safely. Downward Facing Dog is a great pose for decompressing the spine… you might have your legs bent and your heels up… just focus on getting a straight line between your wrists, shoulders and hips and then lengthen that straight line. Hands press down and forward, hips press back and up. You will want to stay away from headstands and shoulderstands with a straight neck. I also have some information on my FAQ page that might help with all the different styles. I hope that helps! Robyn. P.S. On the FAQ page check out #7…

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