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Scoliosis / Kyphosis

John Benko, San Francisco

About 1 week after I took the workshop, I noticed my spine straightening... I measured myself 3 weeks after my first workshop, and noticed between a 3/4th and 1 inch growth! After another 2 weeks I was at about 1 inch. Now (about 6-7 weeks after) I’ve grown a little over 1 inch, and I feel I still have another 1/4 inch to grow before my spine is more ‘normal’.

I've had kyphosis, a type of scoliosis, since I was a child. This caused my back to hunch and my parents tried a number of things to help me straighten my posture: from chiropractic adjustments, daily back muscle exercises, to wearing shoulder braces/straps. All only helped marginally, so i managed to get used to my condition. My chiropractor told me that when i get older as my shoulders and back broadens out it will become less noticeable. That was somewhat the case, but in general my posture was far from good and my kyphosis remained. After college I got heavily involved in triathlon, including competing in a number of Ironman events.


During my training and events, my back would often hurt especially during cycling as i had to bend over the handlebars and I usually put the strain on the curved part of my back. I eventually got various mild repetitive injuries and decided to take a break and focus on yoga to help strengthen muscles. I got very involved in yoga, taking rigorous 90 min classes pretty much daily, attended many week-long yoga retreats, eventually took a teach training and taught some classes to friends/family. Yoga did many things for me including becoming more flexible, strengthening back and core muscles, and improving my balance. I was able to keep my posture straighter due to strengthening my back muscles and increasing my lower back flexibility. However, my back still was curved and when i was tired/lazy to engage my back muscles, my posture reverted to the way it was before. About 1 week after I took the workshop i noticed my spine straightening, although during the first week after I took the workshop (which was actually during the walking intensive), I was experiencing quite a bit of pain in the lower/middle part of my back where my kyphosis begins. I measured myself 3 weeks after my first workshop, and noticed between a 3/4 and 1 inch growth! After another 2 weeks I was at about 1 inch, and now (about 6-7 weeks after) I've grown a little over 1 inch, and i feel i still have another 1/4 inch to grow before my spine is more 'normal'.


Since I've taken the workshop, I haven't been to a yoga class, nor practiced yoga on my own. This is primarily because I want to use my limited free time to walk naturally, and doing yoga would take time away from natural walking. However, while I knew that I would get the adjustment/alignment benefits as well as core and leg muscle strengthening, I didn't realize that I would also get more flexible, which is another core aspect of yoga. With natural walking my hamstrings and lower back, which have always been abnormally tight - which I believe is related to my kyphosis, are getting more flexible. This is similar to what I experience with a complete yoga workshop, but it seems more natural and less painful!


I was diagnosed with adolescent thoracic dextroscoliosis and lumbar levoscoliosis which means there are two curves of which the upper curve is located in the thoracic spine and leans to the right, and the bottom curve is in the lumbar spine and leans to the left like an “S” shape. I could see my waist was visibly uneven and one leg was shorter than the other. I had problems sleeping and made ‘cracking’ noises constantly on my upper back, after years of discomfort, I was sent to pilates therapy where they trained me with mundane exercises to strengthen the muscles around the spine to prevent to curve further. However, I did not feel improvement with the discomfort and the doctor suggested that I wear a brace that can prevent the scolisis from getting worse overtime. However, during Secrets of Natural Walking® practice, I can feel a deep readjustment and realignment in my spine, after a year of practicing, my spine is straighter, my waist has evened out and I grew 2.5cm in height.


I also regularly went to the gym for group fitness classes 3x a week for 2 years. I found that my body stayed slim this way but I had uncontrollable cravings for junk food. I began thinking I could engage in binge eating episodes without harm because I ‘knew’ I could burn off the calories afterwards by exercising intensively. This allowed me to eat even more food, taking the planned exercise into consideration. However, my body was still not the way I wanted it to look, I was slim in some parts of my body but had stubborn fat in parts. 


After natural walking, my body started to transform slowly and naturally, my food  choices naturally improved and I was not worrying about dieting or my obsessive need to exercise. After 6 months my waist started to shrink, my hips and breasts grew and I was pleasantly surprised that my calves that has been muscular and shapely all my life has been replaced with a more elongated, feminine shape. I now appreciate the shape and proportion of my body much more than obsessing about being slim.

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May 28, 2023

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