Research from Harvard Medical School (2009) and the University of York (2012) shows that an adapted form of yoga can have substantial benefits for back pain. But, this is true only if the yoga is done correctly. The wrong positions, poor quality supervision in large classes, or pushing it too far, can have adverse effects.
The developers of the Yoga Back Clinic wanted to bring this specialized yoga, in smaller class sizes, into line with the professional healthcare providers. It is the clinic’s common-sense belief that people help themselves most frequently and effectively when doing something that they like.
The clinic’s founder, Tom Barwell, had experienced problems with back pain. Although he liked working with the health care professionals he visited, he wasn’t finding that he experienced the relief from back pain that he needed. As well, he was constantly given the regular sheet of home care exercises but, like many people, didn’t feel comfortable (in fact didn’t even like) doing these exercises at home! With these experiences in mind, he began looking for another solution for himself and for other sufferers of back pain.
“To me,” says Barwell, “it wasn’t just a matter of finding a great healthcare professional to help me – that wasn’t enough. It was finding a movement modality that was structured, safe and affordable enough for me between sessions.
“But more than that, I wanted an inviting, accessible place to go to. I didn’t like doing exercises on my own at home, and didn’t feel safe going to a gym or normal yoga studio. At the same time, I knew I had to do something!”
After researching the most effective and affordable solutions, he decided to create his own clinic.
The result? A stand-alone yoga clinic that works in concert with other healthcare professionals.
Three yoga levels are available at the clinic; gentle, intermediate, and open. The first two are in classes limited to 12 people, run by instructors with years of rehabilitation experience and a blend of physiotherapy and kinesiology training. (Everyone who enters these classes is assessed by a physiotherapist, and the classes are overseen by that same physiotherapist). This results in a highly structured environment as well as in a treatment plan and adapted yoga that is covered by insurance plans.
The Open level is a maintenance class, and is either for graduates of the other two classes, or for people – most likely with previous back problems – who want to work on prevention, rather than cure.
The clinic also has an experienced RMT on staff, a Registered Dietitian, and well-qualified psychotherapists. In addition, physiotherapy-recommended back products, yoga mats, and clothing are available for purchase.
But neither back pain, nor yoga, is all yang. The Yoga Back Clinic offers a healthy dose of yin, too. Clinic staff also concentrates on the meditative aspects of yoga, taking our stressful and sedentary lifestyles seriously to provide a very credible movement-based therapy for backs.
For more information: www.yogabackclinic.com.