What surprises yoga teachers and health practitioners about Yoga for Pain

Many people think Yoga for Pain is about modifying postures to suit physical injuries. While the program does help participants learn to make better movement choices, this is just one of the skills they learn to improve their experience of persistent pain.

You have to do more than change your body to change your pain

The definition of pain is “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage”. Because pain is an experience (opposed to a physical thing) pain is affected by, and affects, your physical body, social environment and psychological state.

This means you have to do more than just strengthen or stretch your body to impact the amount of pain you feel. You need to work on your nervous system.

Yoga for Pain is an inquiry-based method to improving the lives of people with pain

Based on the principles of Yogic Education developed by French researcher Marie-Andrée Baillon, Yoga for Pain teaches people with pain to inquire into their physical, emotional and psychological experience of pain. This helps them learn to move better (so as to not make their pain worse), form a more supportive environment (and avoid damaging relationships), and notice their beliefs (so as to make better life decisions).

Asking good questions is one of the most important skills for helping pain patients

Yoga for Pain Training prepares yoga teachers and health practitioners to work effectively with people with persistent pain by encouraging them to understand that there are different ways of making sense of pain. This helps them to work more effectively with the needs of the person in front of them. 

Rather than specific postures, practitioners learn principles they can apply to any movement in order to help people with pain avoid pain flares, build confidence, and develop self-awareness.

In the 2.5 day Yoga for Pain Foundations Training these inquiry skills culminate in a group course design exercise. Teams of health practitioners and yoga teachers design a 4-week course for a group of their chosen pain clients. They might work with pelvic pain, fibromyalgia, CRPS, or a mix. They consider all aspects to the clients’ well-being; work out the most important outcome; and draw on their combined skills to develop a tailored yoga course.

Inquiry is critical for great results, rather than just good ones

Pain-sensitive yoga can help pain patients to relax, reduce symptoms and steady their mind.  When based on inquiry Yoga for Pain can help students develop the self-efficacy to do this for themselves.

If you don’t inquire, it is very likely your work will become static and stop working. If you do learn the satisfying skill of inquiry, you as the yoga teacher or health practitioner can adapt and grow as your clients do.

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