About Our Social Enterprise and Training

Go to Training Page for Courses for Teacher Training Course Opportunities and Details

‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ trains already qualified and trained yoga teachers in how to deliver the YHLB programme.   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 Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs training course was approved 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.

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.

We and others see the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme as being an ideal project for NHS/Workplaces/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.

As in our research, the 400+ experienced YHLB Yoga teachers with high quality training from many methods and schools of yoga have embraced and learnt from the YHLB Yoga teacher training course and are now teaching quality-assured 12-week YHLB Yoga courses with support throughout the UK.  They have their own Code of Ethics and procedures for YHLB Yoga Teachers (who are additionally bound by their own original yoga teacher training association’s rules and regulations).

We believe in and respect 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 Yoga.  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 and the evidence-base, is central to our aims.

The evidence-based ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ yoga programme represents ‘best practice’ for chronic low back pain.

All YHLB Yoga trained teachers share in the success of the post-research development project and many act as Ambassadors, Champions and Friends of YHLB Yoga 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 Yoga courses also act as referrers to ensure more people benefit from YHLB Yoga’s proven back-care education and self-management skills. Many medical professionals, including GPs, hospital consultants, and physiotherapists, are supportive of the YHLB Yoga course, are engaging in collaborative ways of working, and ‘signpost’ patients to it.  Some YHLB Yoga teachers are teaching under the NHS, and some are teaching for Council schemes and in Workplace settings.

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs logo

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs:-
– maintains the Register of Qualified YHLB Yoga 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


The University of York led the randomised trial of yoga for low back pain and Alison Trewhela and Anna Semlyen (authors of this website) sat on the York Trials’ Unit’s Trial Steering Group for the research.  However, apart from the initial set-up of the website and post-research project, the University has no current involvement in this social enterprise.  Alison Trewhela, is still in touch with York Trials Unit regarding future yoga research projects and the YHLB Yoga resources.