Download our YHLB Trifold Leaflet v2018
Course Attendee Sheet (compiled with the help of GPs on one of our regional Steering Groups)
YOGA for Healthy Lower Backs –
12-Week Long-Term Self-Management Course
INFORMATION FOR COURSE ATTENDEES:
- 12 weekly, gentle yoga classes lasting 1¼ hours (plus pre- and post-class support and advice) taught over 3-4 months.
- An evidence-based, specific and specialised programme targeting lower back problems, approved by Arthritis Research UK, yoga associations and listed by Public Health England.
- Initial telephone consultation with teacher to talk about your back and answer your questions. Registration Form completion. (These help the teacher to help you more.)
- Weekly sessions – initially teaching simple pain-relieving positions and strategies; progressing gradually with strengthening and stretching poses and movements, designed to improve flexibility, mobility and posture; breathing, mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
- Accompanied by comprehensive evidence-based book (student manual), 4-track Relaxation Album / CD (Track 1 also available in App format), practice sheets to enable simple home practice, hand-outs.
- Learn life-long skills to help yourself to improved health and well-being.
- “ONCE OFF” course teaches you to look after your back condition for now and for the future.
- 15 hrs of supervised exercise, plus a book and yoga practice sheets, aims to teach you to help yourself forever (compare this to an average of just 4 individual sessions of 15-30 minutes of other treatments that typically address just the acute/ immediate problem)
- Encourages positive long-term lifestyle and behavioural changes
- Addresses other ‘bio-psycho-social’ aspects that may be affecting your back problems e.g. joint and muscle pains, arthritis, stress, mood, anxiety, tension, return to work strategies.
- Taught in small groups (e.g. 6-12) by experienced, highly-trained, nationally-accredited yoga teachers.
- The latest evidence shows that you should exercise for improved physical and mental health.
- YHLB is recommended by GPs; features on Public Health England’s online MSK ROI tool (2017); NICE recommends exercise for managing low back pain with or without sciatica (2016); experts recommend this kind of approach (Lancet Journal 2018).
- Make the switch from relying on others to being able to help yourself.
- It’s enjoyable and improves general well-being.
- After attending a 12-week course, participants had an average of 3.8 days days off work, compared to control group average of 12.3 days, i.e. a 70% decrease, suggesting they had learnt to lessen the frequency, duration and intensity of bad back pain episodes.
- Participants report a 63% improvement in their ability to “control and cope with their back pain on their own”.
- 60% of course participants were still practising 30-minute yoga sessions at home approximately twice a week, a year after beginning the course.
- This course is safe and very effective, as well as being cost-effective (for individuals, workplaces, society, NHS). (Ask your workplace to subsidize.)
Who is it suitable for?
- Those who want to learn to help themselves.
- Those who like the prospect of learning methods for “getting back control of their back condition”
- Those looking for a kind and gentle, person-centred approach.
- Those whose back pain has become chronic, e.g. persistent pain or pain that is there the majority of the time.
- Those whose back pain comes and goes (recurring/ episodic), e.g. several bouts each year. Don’t wait until your next episode of bad back pain – start now.
- Anyone prepared to commit to weekly classes, which teach you to incorporate some yoga skills into your daily life.
- Holistic approach – so particularly beneficial for those who have:
- stress / emotional factors (which may be contributing to back pain experience)
- injuries or health conditions that prevent participation in other exercise or sports
- multiple conditions, e.g. headaches, hip replacement, high blood pressure (your teacher will show you modifications for maximum holistic benefit).
What to Expect:
- No previous experience of yoga is necessary; but it can offer those with yoga experience more subtle knowledge of lifelong best practice methods (“optimum rather than maximum”).
- You will not be asked to do anything which your body or mind is not comfortable with.
- Not just for fitness fanatics, i.e. it is suitable for people of all shapes, sizes and fitness levels! (but note that it can help fitness fanatics get back to their favourite sports!)
- Yoga is a philosophy (i.e. as well as helping your back pain, it can show a positive way of living, but it is not a religion)
- No complicated, challenging or advanced yoga, i.e. no Olympic gymnastics!
Where and When?
- Courses available throughout UK – (Find a Teacher page – Qualified Teacher Register listed alphabetically by County plus Trainee teachers below; interactive map; Teaching Teams)
- You may need to wait up to 12 weeks or longer for a start-date.
Yoga before? – attend a YHLB course and enjoy going back to yoga foundations to help long-term, to help inform your general class practice and to encourage safe and effective home practice.
The ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ (YHLB) 12-class Course Offers –
A Self-Help, Mind-Body, Life-Long Tool-kit
– A self-empowering 12-class course
taught over 3-4 months
by a highly-skilled and well-trained Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs registered teacher who will give you individual adjustments and modifications to help you maximally.
– Learn to help yourself
to improved comfort, health and well-being
for now and the future.
– Unique, strongly evidence-based classes
taught according to 12 YHLB class plans,
accompanied by comprehensive evidence-based educational resources
for long-term self-management.
How to sign up? – See How to Help Yourself page
You must pre-book a place on a course via the teacher (or Team Hub) well in advance.
Costs may be higher in some locations (costly room hire fees; less than 10 in the group); Trainee teachers may offer cheaper pilot courses:
15 hours of supervised tuition in small groups (6-12 people), includes book, 4-track relaxations CD, home practice sheets, hand-outs, support.
- Usual / Average (based on 12 people with average room hire costs, so please note some YHLB teachers may need to charge more for these ‘specialised’ classes). Payment instalments =
- £60 + P&P for Resources Pack, YHLB Registration and Support for access onto the YHLB course, contributing to your lifelong healthy living toolkit (payable to our not-for-profit social enterprise)
- £77 for first block of 6 classes (at Class 1)
- £77 for second block of 6 classes (at Class 7)
- Your GP Practice / Council may be able to offer you the option of this course at a subsidized rate (social prescribing?).
- Your workplace may offer subsidies / Resources Pack / full-funding / gift of time off work.
- 12-week ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ course valued in published research at £292 per course attendee (bargain rate now in order to share), was shown in research to be cheaper than NHS physiotherapy packages and hospital clinic rehabilitation programmes (2008 prices) and very cost-saving for workplaces due to 70% reduced work absenteeism.
- Another initial back pain treatment consultation could cost £45 with 15-30-minute follow-up consultations costing £35 each x 6–50 sessions (e.g. 25 sessions could cost £1750).
- Two monthly prescriptions for medications could cost – £206 per year
- A cappucino @ £2.50 per day for 4 months could cost £280.
- A child’s half-hour swimming lesson @ £15 could cost £210 for 14 lessons.
- A 10-week term of ‘general’ yoga classes (NOT a well-structured course that starts gently, NOT evidence-based, NOT specialised, NOT taught by specifically-trained back-care teacher, NOT a small group class, NOT enabling you to know how to practise at home for the long-term health of your back, NOT designed specially to make sure it does not ‘upset’ your back) could cost £120.
- 3 months’ subscription to a gym could cost you £100+
- You only need to do this course once to learn how to help yourself for now and the future.
What Can Yoga do For You?
“You are as young as your spine is flexible”
80% of people suffer from low back pain at some time in their lives. 1 in 3 people in the UK answer “Yes” to the question “Have you felt back pain over the past month?” It is a common and recurring problem.
Yoga – an Evidence-Based Treatment for Back Pain
Appropriate yoga, such as our specialised ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme, aims to address the past, present and future of the issue.
It aims to: bring awareness to, and strengthen, weak areas; loosen stiff segments due to past injuries; rebalance posture and strengthen musculature; improve and maintain improvements in strength, mobility, circulation and the health of the nerves.
You can benefit from yoga whether you are just suffering from your first episode of back pain or whether you want to lessen the intensity and recurrence of episodes.
As experienced yoga teachers, we have helped many people to practice and benefit from appropriate yoga and now we have good research proof.
In a previous trial (K. Williams et al), 75% said that yoga had “significant importance” and the remaining 25% said that yoga had “some importance” on their low back health. In the same trial, yoga was found to lead to 88% less medication usage.
What if my Back Pain Comes and Goes?
Please do consider yoga as a good option to learn to help yourself to improved comfort, health and well-being.
Because everyone has a back, everyone can benefit from practising yoga designed to focus on the health of the lower back.
Even if you are not suffering from low back pain, it can act as an educative and preventative technique.
Yoga was originally probably practiced mostly by men (we had 31% men in our yoga trial), but it is suitable for men and women. Yoga can be practised at any age.
How Does Yoga Work?
Yoga helps you physically by making your muscles, tissues and joints healthy and also improves the function of your organs, immune system and glandular system, e.g. your digestion, breathing, gynaecological health and nervous system can improve too.
Yoga is a mind/body discipline, positively affecting your body and mental outlook.
Research shows that people with low back pain are less depressed after 3 months of being offered yoga and also after practising yoga at home a year after beginning.
Our trial backs up two past trials (K. Williams et al 2009 and E. Groessl et al 2008) in suggesting that depression in low back pain sufferers decreases with yoga and that yoga’s benefits are long-term. It can be depressing to have back pain and yoga helps to bring about positive mental changes.
Research shows that the Alexander Technique (postural awareness), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, manipulation and exercise can help to reduce back pain. Yoga can combine similar elements from all these methods into a single treatment package whilst empowering you to help yourself to improved comfort, health and wellbeing.
You learn to use your body efficiently and comfortably throughout your day by attention to your postural habits – which is very relevant to recurrent back pain.
You learn to change your attitude to your back pain episodes and also to the experience of occasional pain itself with self-observation and by targeting the neurological pathways from the site of pain to the brain.
You learn to gently bring mobility to stiff parts of your body and to keep them flexible, which encourages future health in those areas.
You learn to exercise, strengthen and relax your body and also your mind, with beneficial effects to your body, your mind and your whole being.
How Do I Start?
The ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs – Relaxations Album’ is a great place to begin your introduction to yoga. The CD was designed for those with low back pain and trial participants loved it. You will get this CD as part of your Resources Pack. It is not easy to learn yoga relaxation by yourself, but this CD talks you through it and was an essential part of our trial and YHLB course.
You can use yoga relaxation to: take off the top layers of pain; reduce physical and mental tension; lessen the effects of life’s stress; stabilize your emotions; improve your overall health; allow your body to relax and settle into a more comfortable posture; bring calmness to your mind; improve your vitality; and more.
Our book was designed as an accompaniment to our 12-class ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ course and also comes in the YHLB Resources Pack. If you have some experience of yoga, it is likely that you may be able to work from this book, but a YHLB teacher could help you much more. Of course, it is best to use the book as it was designed, i.e. alongside a 12-week course taught by a ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ qualified yoga teacher.
‘The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ Programme – Best way to learn
To recap, it is best to learn the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme from a qualified YHLB teacher (along with the book and the Relaxations CD) on a 12-week course. Find a teacher on our Teachers Register.
Teachers know the yoga programme inside out and will watch what you do to ensure you do things well and appropriately for your particular low back condition.
They will help answer queries you have, talk you effectively through each pose and teach you how to relax at the end of each class.
They will also encourage and teach you how to incorporate the Home Practice Yoga Sequences and postural tips into your own life’s schedule.
The ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme consists of 12 gently progressing, differing classes, the relaxations and the book (including practice sheets).
The skills that you learn from these unique gradually progressive classes will go into your yoga toolkit and give you knowledge, skills and tools for life to improve and maintain the health of your lower back forever.
Once the yoga is learned and the health and comfort of your lower back improved, we recommend that you practise your home sequence yoga at least twice a week.
That’s just 20-30 minutes a week to maintain the health of your back as well as benefiting other parts of your body and your mind.
How Does Yoga Compare to Other Treatments?
Yoga, as a exercise option, is now recommended as the first step to managing low back pain.
For this first step, it mentions ‘strengthening, stretching and mind-body’ exercise (= yoga) and preferably within a group setting (= our yoga programme). Our 313-participant yoga programme contributes the strongest evidence for mind-body programmes to the body of evidence (effectiveness H. Tilbrook et al; and cost-effectiveness LH Chuang et al). If psychological (CBT) or manual (chiropractic, osteopathy, massage, manipulation) therapies are used, NICE recommends their use, only IF it is accompanied with exercise.
Yoga is not a one-pill treatment nor is it like a course of antibiotics – yoga teachers believe that the effects are cumulative.
Yoga does not just help initially, it can become a lifelong habit that means fewer and fewer episodes of shorter and less intense low back pain over time until these become almost nil and insignificant.
Our research found people had far fewer days ‘out of action’/off work for the year (approx. 3 versus 12) after beginning attendance on a ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ 12-week course.
Yoga in our trial was measured and compared to treatment interventions used in previous similarly rigorously-tested trials and was shown on a Forest Plot graph to be more effective than acupuncture, CBT, exercise classes taught by physiotherapists, 16 educational newsletters plus back care lectures, 6 individual Alexander technique sessions (but not as good as 24 sessions = very costly), a back care educational book, massage, normal/standard/usual care, chiropractic/osteopathic/physiotherapy manipulation, and manipulation plus exercise.
Bearing all this in mind, this once-off 12-week course that offers life-long skills offers value for money along with long-term effectiveness.
More About the Yoga Programme and its Future
This yoga programme acts as a good introductory course to yoga and although it emphasises the lower back, because everything is connected and involved, the sequences will also affect your shoulders, hips, legs, arms, organs, mood, and systems of the body positively. This may mean fewer headaches, less IBS, comfortable knees, and more.
If you are new to yoga, once you have completed it, this yoga programme may revolutionise how you feel on a day-to-day basis and encourage you to want to take up a regular Beginners, Foundation or General yoga class.
If there is currently no teacher near you, then please keep checking this website, because more teachers will be trained.
You are ultimately in control of your body and mind, so take charge gently now and turn your health around for the better. Those practising yoga in our trial had far fewer days off work than the control group over the 12 months measured (approx. 3 versus 12).
You may already be able to claim for our research-proven ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme under your workplace or private insurance and there are scenarios where it is offered by the NHS in some UK regions.
Our vision is that one day anyone who wants to improve the health of their lower back – and we all have one! – will be able to have access to these classes.
So, please do tell people about this website and get people talking about the yoga’s benefits and asking for it. Ask your local yoga teacher to consider training in this yoga programme, ask your local GPs, physiotherapists and other healthcare providers to consider offering this, or ask your sports centre or health centre to run these courses. Thank you for your help.
August 16th 2012 published research says that our specific yoga programme would save costs for the NHS, employers and the economy. Public Health England list our YHLB yoga programme as one of 7 musculoskeletal interventions that would offer a good return on investment. It is therefore a cost-saving, health promotional, long-term, self-management treatment option that should be widely available.
Thank you for your help with sharing this information and referring to our website.
VIDEO – As well as the link from our Home Page and Video Page, you can view a short video showing an overview of this yoga programme by following this link http://annals.org/article.aspx?articleid=1033130 and underneath the published paper title and authors list, Click on Audio/Video. It was filmed in Cornwall with Alison Trewhela teaching, directing and narrating.
– This yoga programme is an ideal introductory foundation course for beginners with a focus on low back health
– Those who are prepared to make a real commitment to learning the yoga programme in order to gain benefit are likely to find the yoga to be more successful
– The best-case scenario is for students to practise 2-3 times a week forever to maintain and improve the health of their back for their lifetime.