This is How Yang Jiamin Overcame a Spinal Condition Through Yoga

by Clara How
FITNESS  |  February 25, 2019
  • Yoga instructor Yang Jiamin first used yoga as a healing tool
    1 / 5 Yoga instructor Yang Jiamin first used yoga as a healing tool

    Yang Jiamin can now contort her body into some amazing shapes (check out and see for yourself), but just five years ago, she was diagnosed with spinal condition spondylolisthesis and suffered from severe back pain. Yoga wasn’t just a refuge, but a literal physical transformation. “I was completely healed, and I would say it’s a blessing in disguise,” Jiamin says. Now a yoga instructor, she also has a pretty impressive weekly workout regime that also includes ballroom dance, pole, pilates, calisthenics, HIIT and boxing. She shares more about how she benefitted from this ancient practice.

    A version of this story first appeared on

    All photos: Yang Jiamin

    Read more
  • Do what makes you feel good
    2 / 5 Do what makes you feel good

    I had a spinal fracture when I was 16, and by the time I was 20, whenever I sneezed or coughed there would be a sharp pain shooting through my spine. The doctor even said that there’s a chance I might be paralysed if I didn’t go for a fusion surgery. However, I was determined to look for alternatives.

    I chanced upon a yoga workshop and decided to go for teacher training so I could learn more about the anatomy and exercises that could target different muscle groups. After six months of intensive training, my back pain gradually went away. This ignited my passion to share my knowledge with others who were facing the same issues as me and that’s how I started my journey as a yoga instructor.

    Read more
  • Yoga gave the long term results she was looking for
    3 / 5 Yoga gave the long term results she was looking for

    Yoga focuses a lot on alignment, improves total body strength and flexibility, which was exactly what I needed. Back then, I tried chiropractic treatment, TCM and physio but the relief was only temporary. I thought, if I were to work my core and back muscles to strengthen my trunk, it could help to support and prevent future my discs from getting compressed further.

    (Also read: 7 Best Yoga Moves To Strengthen Your Core)

    Today, most of my private clients suffer from scoliosis and back pain. First, they have to be open-minded about using yoga as a healing tool. It’s important to be patient – after all, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so practising consistently and diligently is key. The yoga style I teach involves a lot of mindful breathing, so it’s more of Hatha style which is slower paced, to focus more on alignment.

    Read more
  • Stretching is not just about being bendy
    4 / 5 Stretching is not just about being bendy

    Being flexible will reduce your risks of injury during exercises and daily activities. I stretch for about 30 mins a day. I like to do long static holds when I stretch, usually do it every night before I sleep. When I try to adopt a fitness regime, start by making it a habit for 28 days, and eventually it will become part of your daily routine.

    (Also read: VIDEO: 5 Stretches That Runners Who Have Super Tight Muscles Must Do)

    Some simple stretching exercises to try are seated forward fold, butterfly, pigeon, seated straddle forward fold, and passive backbend stretch with a block underneath the middle back.

    Read more
  • Your workout should also be a mental game
    5 / 5 Your workout should also be a mental game

    Yoga is more than just the physical practice. There are days when rolling out a mat is the last thing I want to do, but whenever I feel that way I’ll sit, meditate, and restore some mental clarity.

    For beginners to meditation, start small. Five minutes of meditation is better than 30 minutes of frustration and getting discouraged. Increase the time only when you’re comfortable. The mind is very powerful, and it’s the biggest obstacle standing in the way between thoughts and reality. So when you meditate and focus on your breath, your mind becomes silent and you’re free from distractions. It allows you to think better, and make better decisions too.

    (Also read: How MMA Fighter Tiffany Teo Uses Yoga to Stay Mentally Strong)

    Read more