‘The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Institute’ formally launched as an educational and professional institute on 1st June 2014 – this ‘institute’ had in essence been running since 2011, but now has an official name and presence. It points to the past, present and future sustainability, efforts and commitment of all 300+ yoga teachers involved in ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ (YHLB) who are on the Institute’s roll.
The Institute is accredited by national yoga governing body for Sport England and Sports & Recreation Alliance, British Wheel of Yoga, as a Recognized Centre of Excellence for Training and Standards. It is a member organisation of the British Council for Yoga Therapy. It holds the Register of qualified ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ teachers (Find a Teacher website page) and many of these teachers are on the PSA-approved CNHC Register.
The University of York and Arthritis Research UK (who generously funded the research) support our rolling out of this distinct, specialized, best practice ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ (YHLB) programme used in the high-profile research published in 2011 and 2012. The Department of Health Sciences’ York Trials Unit’s study was a multi-centred, multiple teacher, randomized controlled trial, which has so far led to 5 published papers, nearly 100 citations, and primary mentions in multiple published systematic reviews and meta-analyses showing specialised yoga to be a safe and effective treatment for low back pain that ‘physicians and clinicians should be comfortable recommending to those with a history of low back pain’.
YHLB’s uniquely evidence-based educational resources that accompany the course are exemplary and aid its life-long self-management potential. This back care course has proven short-term and long-term benefits clinically.
In health economic terms, it was shown to be a dominant treatment from the societal perspective, that it reduces work absenteeism by 70% p.a., and that this course would be likely to be cost-effective and one of the most effective treatments available if offered under the NHS.
The Institute sees the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme as being an ideal project for NHS/Social Care Departments/Councils to show innovative integrative ways of working to:- reduce long-term chronic conditions, effectively and gradually increase physical activity levels, improve mental health, and build ‘resilience’ in patients and communities. Please contact us at [email protected]
As in our research, the Institute’s experienced yoga teachers with high quality training from many methods and schools of yoga have embraced the YHLB teacher training course and are now teaching quality-assured 12-week YHLB courses with support throughout the UK. The Institute has its own Code of Ethics and procedures for YHLB Teachers (who are additionally bound by their own original yoga teacher training association’s rules and regulations).
The Institute believes in and respects the strength and value of ‘keeping to the evidence base’. An important emphasis is to continue to support the teachers who have already trained in YHLB. To date, the post-research social enterprise project at www.yogaforbacks.co.uk run by Anna Semlyen and Alison Trewhela (yoga consultants on the original research trial) has educated about and promoted the YHLB research and yoga programme in order to allow more benefit to others.
The ethos of sharing, whilst maintaining standards, is central to the aims of the Institute.
The evidence-based ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ yoga programme represents ‘best practice’ for chronic low back pain.
All YHLB trained teachers (300+ as at 1st June 2014) share in the success of the post-research development project and many act as Ambassadors, Champions and Friends of YHLB to ensure its continued success and transfer of knowledge. Many of the thousands of students (mostly newcomers to yoga) who have participated in 12-week YHLB courses also act as referrers to ensure more people benefit from YHLB’s proven back-care education and self-management skills. Many medical professionals, including GPs, hospital consultants, and physiotherapists, are supportive of the YHLB course, are engaging in collaborative ways of working, and ‘signpost’ patients to it. A few YHLB teachers are teaching under the NHS, and some are teaching for Council schemes and in Workplace settings.
The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Institute acts as a professional body who:-
– maintains the Register of Qualified YHLB Teachers (www.yogaforbacks.co.uk website page) and continuing training records
– trains sufficiently experienced and well-qualified yoga teachers from differing yoga methods in how to deliver the YHLB programme through its teacher training programme (YHLB TT)
– supports/mentors YHLB teachers both clinically and administratively, plus encourages teacher buddy-up and team-working
– helps develop and share ideas about how to forge ahead with innovative ways of working with this unique ‘best practice’ evidence-based YHLB programme for the good of those with back pain, yoga teachers, the yoga profession (and workplaces, Councils and NHS commissioners, GPs, health professionals)
– offers Continuing Professional Development Days for YHLB trained teachers
– offers Continuing Professional Development Days for health professionals
– offers educational yoga workshops for yoga students and teachers about how to practice for long-term healthy lower backs
– securely holds all the YHLB documentation, including Teachers’ Manual, Student Hand-out Pack, YHLB TT Hand-outs, Relaxations CD, YHLB book material, copies of research papers
– gathers outcome/evaluation information from YHLB students with the aim of gathering more evidence
– guides a Discussion Forum for YHLB Teachers
– works collaboratively with the social enterprise ‘Yogaforbacks’ (Alison Trewhela and Anna Semlyen under agreements with The University of York and Arthritis Research UK) to support raising public awareness of yoga’s therapeutic potential, and also with other professional/academic/charity/medical bodies
– acts as the ‘gatekeeper’ to the YHLB intellectual property (with the support of The University of York and Arthritis Research UK)
– works with other academics, e.g. contributions to research papers, articles, books, or further evaluation studies of YHLB’s potential for long-term health benefits
– represents YHLB and/or presents the YHLB research at conferences, conventions and exhibitions, e.g. Primary Care Conference, Back Pain Show, Arthritis Awareness Days, Research Forum Events
– works in partnership with charities, e.g. collaborative partner with BackCare UK, yoga articles and entries on websites and magazines
– collaborates with other Complementary & Alternative Medicine associations, e.g. ICNM
– works with other yoga bodies for a unified approach to the presentation of good quality, evidence-based yoga programmes, e.g. British Council for Yoga Therapy
– continues to develop strategies for new ways of working as YHLB teachers and YHLB teaching teams
– observes and keeps abreast of UK political developments with relevance to YHLB
– communicates internationally with regard to YHLB interest and enquiries
– represents YHLB in Department of Health and other government consultations, e.g. NICE Clinical & Public Health guidelines
– opens conversations with NHS Commissioners in various areas of the UK about how YHLB can be integrated into the UK healthcare system
– develops working relationships with Councils about how best to integrate YHLB into Workplace and Social Care situations to help those with long-term chronic conditions and to improve the UK’s self-management of physical and mental health
– aids YHLB’s integration into funded community schemes, e.g. Scotland’s Department of Health and Social Care ‘KICC Active’
– raises awareness in multiple arenas of yoga’s therapeutic potential, e.g. Conference of European Centre for the Environment & Human Health
Nationally-accredited by the British Wheel of Yoga as a Recognised Centre in Training and Standards.
Although The University of York led the randomised trial of yoga for low back pain, it has no other involvement in the work of the Institute. The Director of the Institute, Alison Trewhela, is still in touch with York Trials Unit regarding future yoga research.