Practitioner Profile: Elise Browning Miller

In 2008, I was doing research for a performance piece about my scoliosis story. I googled ‘scoliosis’ and discovered the "Yoga for Scoliosis" teachings of Elise Browning Miller. Due to my fused and crooked spine, I had always been told, “NEVER do yoga”... but I was craving something to help me, so I ordered her DVD and booklet online. Although I could do some of the exercises on my own, I found them difficult — I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. As I have learned since, each scoliosis is different, so I needed to figure out my curve pattern before I could properly do the exercises. On that note, I eagerly signed up for a Yoga for Scoliosis retreat in Mexico and that’s when we met for the first time. Thanks to Elise, I had the opportunity to focus on my own spine, and discover the best ways for me to help myself with the aches and pains of scoliosis.

The workshop was challenging physically and emotionally. I had no idea it would be so hard for me to face the reality of my dis-ability and my limited movement range in yoga poses. I was the only person in the workshop with a fused spine, but thankfully it was a lovely group of people with twisty spines who were happy to share their scoliosis experiences. I was inspired by everyone’s unique story and their optimism and willingness to try yoga and other techniques. Elise’s joyous personality and ease of communication guided us all, making it possible to persevere. Her dedication to Yoga for Scoliosis and her down-to-earth, precise, and nurturing teaching style have been a tremendously positive influence in my life.

Little did I know at the time, but that workshop in Mexico would reorient my life in a whole new direction, where learning to teach Yoga for Scoliosis became a priority - as much to help me to further develop my own practice as to help others in their journeys.

Since 2013, TOPS has hosted Elise in BC for several 10-hour workshops attended by over 120 students. These workshops have been held in Vancouver (The Dance Centre, HopBopShop, The Yoga Space), West Vancouver (OM PREM), Victoria (Alive Mind Studio), Salt Spring Island (Ganges Yoga), Courtenay (Studio in the Woods), and in 2017, for her fifth year in BC, we celebrated by holding a wonderful 5-day Yoga for Scoliosis retreat September 14-18 in Nanaimo at the stunningly beautiful Yoga Weyr. TOPS looks forward to welcoming Elise back to BC in 2018.