Modified Pilates for Scoliosis

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In this brilliant session Sonjé Mayo demonstrates the way she works with clients who have scoliosis. When her own scoliosis became painful for the first time in her 50s Sonjé went in search of an answer and found it in the Schroth Method. Find out why she believes that Pilates will only make scoliosis worse unless you understand your curves and how to work with them. Watch as Sonjé takes her student Estelle through a classical Pilates mat workout addressing her specific scoliosis. For teacher training, lessons and Schroth work, visit Sonjé Mayo at For information about the Schroth method, visit

What Others Are Saying


  1. Galassia
    Galassia 4 weeks ago

    Fantastic accurate workshop Sonjé! !
    I would like to ask your opinion about the following: how to handle somebody with 3 curves scoliosis, kyphosis, compression L4 and L5, sway back propency? I am working on the vertical pelvis very intensely, giving this the priority, rounding goas always in a very long C-curve, but sometimes when trying extension some pain in the kyphosis shows up. It is a process of trial and error as you say, but I am wondering if you would follow a specific order of importance/correction of the different patologies. This client is arond 70 yrs old, thin but generous breasted, flexible but no ballerina with much proprioception. Thank you for your time and kind attention!! Galassia

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonjé Mayo 4 weeks ago

      Hi Galassia,
      Seeing that this lady has so many problems, just keep her mainly in extension. You are not qualified to deal with multiple scoliotic curves so you are safe with spinal extension.
      No rotation or side bending. Mild spinal flexion is allowed to stretch the erector spinae muscles, but no loaded or forced spinal rounding.

  2. Ly 1 year ago

    Thank you Sonje – your videos are always excellent!

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 1 year ago

      Thanks for your appreciative feedback!

  3. pilatesseason 2 years ago

    Great video! 🙂 As the terminology is a little confusing for me (as a non-native speaker) – do I understand correctly, that you put the prop under the side of the back that falls more down onto mat? Also, is it common that the side of the upper back that has prominence (=falls deeper down to mat?) is not the same as the side of hip that is more in contact with the mat? Would you use the same kind of prop under the prominent (?) side of pelvis? 🙂
    Anyway, thank you in advance if you have time to reply! I will also look into the Schroth method to see if I can learn it somewhere. It sounds fascinating!
    Kind regards, Kristina

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 2 years ago

      Yes one props the prominences…..”Prop where you drop”
      However, there are many variations in Scoliotic curves and some are prominent and others more obscure.
      Therefore, it is best to go to a Schroth professional or a PT for confirmation on the X-ray, so that there is no room for errors.
      It is important to know where the apex of the curves are, in order to place the props accurately…..guess work is dangerous.

  4. 2 years ago

    Sonje’, what are your thoughts about Mermaid on the mat with Scoliosis?

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 2 years ago

      Mermaid is contra-indicated for Scoliosis IF the client has a double curve, (4 curve) because we want to avoid enabling the curves. As both the thoracic spine and the lumbar spine can side bend, you will always affect one curve
      If the client has a single curve (3 curve), one has to know exactly where the curve is in either the thoracic or lumbar spine and then you may be able to laterally flex to one side only, against the curve. However, if you are not sure and you have not seen the X-ray or have not been advised by an expert, I would rather omit Mermaid.

      • 2 years ago

        Thank you Sonje’! I appreciate your feedback.

  5. greenmeridian 2 years ago

    Two questions, Sonjé: First, on the stomach would you also prop the opposite side to level the rib cage? And, any advice for clients with Harrington rods? I have a few clients with rods and it limits Both flexion and extension. Thank you for this valuable tutorial

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 2 years ago

      Yes quite correct! You only need to prop the prominent ribs in the prone position with a thoracic curve.
      Rods are problematic because the vertebrae above and below the fusion are at risk.
      All we can do is strengthen the Powerhouse isometrically and put no strain on the vulnerable areas above and below the rod.
      The clients with rods will guide you….they will tell you what they can and cannot manage. It will be a process of trial and error on your part to be creative and work around their restrictions.
      Hope that helps!

  6. cherylbentsen 3 years ago

    So helpful!

  7. jleelake 3 years ago

    this was very helpfull. I would like info on where to get the roll.

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      It is available from Amazon. It is called the Carex cervical roll, 12 x 5 x 5

  8. hydration2000 3 years ago


  9. Caro-Heger 3 years ago

    Many thanks for this demonstration. I have learned, how to teach my scoliosis students in the right way – protecting them from further pain, but help them to feel good during the Training. Thx for mentioning the absolute no-goes – exercises, which harm the physical condition!.

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      I am delighted that this has been of help…….your scoliosis clients will thank you for the rest of their lives!

  10. Luna
    Luna 3 years ago

    It was helpful for my client. I had no pad like that so just put the small pilates pad but the client said it’s okay. I learned a lot from this video for scoliosis client. I am looking forward to seeing Sonje’s class for scoliosis more here. Thank you so much!

  11. MFPniewski 3 years ago

    Hi Sonje’,
    Where can I purchase the ” prop bags” used in this video?

    • Sonjé Mayo Author
      Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

      Sorry I have been away and did not see your question.
      The prop bags are in fact Yoga eye bags……8 inches by 4 inches with 250 grams of rice, flax seed, or whatever.
      You can purchase them from Amazon

      • Sonjé Mayo Author
        Sonje Mayo 3 years ago

        If you need info on the roll, let me know.
        I am so pleased that this video has been of help to you!

  12. MFPniewski 3 years ago

    I love this video! After receiving many sessions of Physical Therapy with a Shroth Therapist I wanted to be able to do Pilates at home . Sonje’ explains each move extremely well with modifications for Scoliosis.
    I have the same diagnosis as this student with a much greater curve so observing each move and listening to Sonje’ explanations make it much easier to incorporate this to my daily routine.
    Would love to see more! Thanks Sonje’!!

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