Back discomfort is a common problem. Now there is an innovative evidence-based way to improve back health and function. The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs programme gently and progressively aims to help people get back to being more active again. Enjoy helping yourself with this yoga ‘toolkit’, as many others have.
The Research that used this Specific Yoga
The University of York (Department of Health Sciences, York Trials Unit) ran one of the largest yoga research studies, funded by Arthritis Research UK. Teachers from the Iyengar Yoga Association (UK) and the British Wheel of Yoga designed and ran specialised 12-week courses in five areas of the UK. The positive results showing it to be safe and effective were published in the ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’ (‘Yoga for Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Trial’ H Tilbrook, et al, Nov 1st 2011). The Cost Evaluation in the Journal ‘Spine’ (LH Chuang, Aug 15th 2012) showed it to be cost-effective for the NHS, society and the workplace. A social enterprise has been set up to allow more people to benefit from the same yoga programme used in the randomised controlled trial.
The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Institute
Professional standards of quality-assured care, support and advice is offered by Institute registered teachers providing this specific ‘best practice’ back-care yoga course. The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Institute trains high quality, already-trained and experienced yoga teachers from different schools and methods of yoga in how to deliver the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme. The Institute is accredited nationally by the yoga governing body for Sport England and Sports & Recreation Alliance, British Wheel of Yoga, as a Recognised Centre of Excellence for Training and Standards and is also a member organisation of the British Council for Yoga Therapy. The Institute’s Register of Teachers can be viewed on yogaforbacks.co.uk
Please also visit yogaforbacks.co.uk for more information about this exciting groundbreaking clinical trial and evidence-based specialised yoga programme. The Relaxations CD is also suitable as a stand-alone educational resource to reduce and ease tension and stress.
Please note, if you attend a 12-week course, the CD and the book will be provided as part of the course.
This holistic motivational 12-week course is designed to:
- Teach how to self-manage for the long-term
- Address stress-management and relaxation skills
- Encourage an increase in physical activity, appropriate to the individual
- Teach postural awareness and mindfulness
- Aim for other, additional to lower back health, positive physical and mental health outcomes
NICE Draft Guidelines regarding its review of how NHS professionals should treat patients with low back pain stated in the first sentence of its Press Statement 24th March 2016 that:
‘The draft guidelines recommends exercise in all its forms (for example, stretching, strengthening, aerobic or yoga), as the first step in managing low back pain.’
The above recommendation was majorly influenced by our H. Tilbrook et al and LH Chuang et al research papers evaluating the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of our group Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course. We welcome this first step to accepting yoga has a role to play in mainstream healthcare in the UK.
Why Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs?
You know exactly what you will get – the same yoga, taught in the same way, according to the same educational materials, as in the research itself. No need to wait until your next back episode recurs, before starting the course.
The course is designed to give you long-term benefits. You will be taught to bring postural improvements, mental focus and relaxation techniques into your daily life. In the research, benefits were still found a year after starting the yoga. 9 months after their 12-week course had finished, the majority of the research trial’s yoga group were still practising yoga at home approximately 30 minutes twice a week.
Expect to pay more for these therapeutic classes than for general yoga classes because they are taught in smaller groups but with its educational, single course, self-management approach, Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs is considered to be cost-effective.
Workplace Evidence-based Yoga for Reduced Absenteeism and Cost-Savings.
The research showed days off work reduced by approx 70% over a year from this single, lifelong self-management, 12-week course. Support valued employees by helping them to improve their health with cost-effective education provided regularly by an experienced teacher. Promote long-term healthy lifestyle choices effectively by giving staff tools to keep working creatively, energetically, productively, collaboratively and happily.
Reduce the impact of back pain and stress-related conditions on workforce and business – published research showed how offering a Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course was estimated to save £817 per annum per person in productivity lost (based on an average salary).
Ask your GP whether this gentle, evidence-based, specially-modified yoga course is appropriate for you—show them the yogaforbacks.co.uk website. The 12 x 90 minute class course comprises easy foundation yoga poses. Props such as a yoga block, blanket or belt are used to aid effectiveness and to ensure absolute comfort.
Outside Surrey? Visit yogaforbacks.co.uk to find other Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Institute‘ Register of Teachers teaching this same specialised course—350+ in England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, France and more.
Before Your Class
Yoga is practised on an empty stomach, so try not to eat for 2-3 hours before a class. this will make your practice more comfortable.
It is best to practice yoga in bare feet, so please take off your shoes and socks when you arrive. Our feet have tiny receptors on the bottom, so we can feel the earth beneath us. Practising in bare feet also helps our balance and provides a natural grip. Try to wear loose, comfortable clothing, so that there are no restrictions around the limbs, joints, or waist and try not to wear a hood. A top with an elastic waistband is also a good idea so clothing doesn’t ride up, when you are upside down. Before commencing your practice please remove spectacles, watches or any jewellery.
The only things you will need to bring with you to class are a bottle of water and a yoga mat; but we do have mats you can use, blocks, belts, bricks, blankets and eye pillows. In the more flowing and tougher classes and workshops you may also like to bring a towel. In the gentle classes you may like to bring an extra blanket for warmth and comfort.
Tell the teacher if it’s your first class—you probably won’t be the only one. And please complete the confidential health questionnaire as fully as you are able, so your teacher knows as much about you as possible. The questionnaire will be given to you when you arrive. If you do have a pre-existing problem or condition, there are ways to adjust the postures to suit you.
Early arrivals are fine
Please try to come to class a few minutes early. Consider being prompt as part of your practice. There is nothing worse than feeling stressed before you arrive and running up the road to be on time. It also ensures that your teacher and the rest of the class are not disturbed by your late arrival. Unfortunately if the class has started, you will be unable to join the class.
Turn off your phone
When you arrive please turn off your phone to silent and the vibrate should also be off; so as not to disturb the rest of the class or your own practice.
During Your Yoga Class
Feel free to look around and follow what other students are doing, especially if the teacher does not demonstrate every pose. However, keep in mind that you may be looking at more advanced students, so do not compare yourself to them. Everyone learns at their own pace. And we are all made differently so some people are naturally more flexible, supple or stronger than others. Do your best, but let go of a competitive mindset.
Always remember to breathe in and out of your nose unless asked to do otherwise; but do let your teacher know if you have trouble doing this. Some classes will include different types of breathing/ pranayama techniques, so give them a go and please ask your teacher if you need more guidance.
Throughout your yoga practice try and be aware of what you are doing. Try to concentrate on the sensations you feel in the body and on your breath.
Don’t pull or strain
Never force or strain. Relax briefly between each posture if you need to. If you feel pain or strain, stop and tell your teacher. Listen to your body. As you do yoga more regularly, you may notice that you become increasingly supple and stronger.
Injury or Illness
If you have an injury / illness / medical condition, you should advise your teacher in the confidential health questionnaire. If your medical condition changes then it is for you to let the teacher know of any changes or deterioration in your condition. If in doubt please also consult you GP / medical advisor.
Some people advise that you don’t do inversions, for example: handstands, shoulder stands, headstands; and alternative positions will be provided in class.
Please tell your teacher if you suspect, or if you are, pregnant. The class can be adjusted to suit you. However, it is important to check with your doctor or midwife that yoga is suitable for you, at each stage of your pregnancy.
During the class your teacher may adjust you into a more suitable position or apply pressure so you are pushed deeper into position. If you would prefer not to be adjusted please let your teacher know before the class starts.
The class will end with a relaxation session. This is an important part of the class and students are encouraged to stay for the duration of the lesson. Relaxation gives the body an opportunity to assimilate all of the benefits of the postures you have just done; and also counteracts stress by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
Enjoy and try again
We hope you enjoy our classes and hope to see you again. Do tell us if there is something that you particularly enjoyed or disliked!