Yoga for Pain Care Australia exists to help all people with persistent pain – including those who are out of work, on low incomes or who are otherwise socially isolated – live healthy, meaningful lives.
How we do it
We provide training and support to health professionals and yoga teachers offering community-based Yoga for Pain. Yoga for Pain is a field of practice dedicated to helping people reduce the symptoms of persistent pain, enjoy yoga, and live with meaning.
Why it’s important
Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 people, including children and adolescents, and 1 in 3 over 65. While treated as a medical condition, pain has a huge social impact: it stops people working, many become socially isolated, and leads to anxiety and depression.
We believe yoga can offer an alternative, or compliment, to traditional pain care. Informed by principles of Yogic Education, Yoga for Pain additionally offers a natural transition from medical care and community, and can address many of the social and psychological factors of long term pain.
What we provide
- Practical evidence-based education in yoga as a safe, effective part of pain care
- Frameworks and resources for Yoga for Pain as a field of practice
- Australia-wide community of Yoga for Pain Practitioners offering a range of individual and group services in cities, outer suburbs and regional areas
- Program design consultancy for health clinics and organisations
Our model for social impact
Research shows yoga and relaxation can improve health outcomes for a range of pain conditions, but there is a big gap between research, and what happens in practice, especially for those with less access to good support networks. We believe our work is helping to bridge that gap, so people have more choice in the care they receive to reduce or manage their symptoms, and more opportunity to get back to work, participate in their community, and live healthy, meaningful lives.
Specially taught yoga provides a local, affordable compliment to pain clinics and hospitals. It also offers a natural transition from tertiary care to community. When taught appropriately, yoga can reduce symptoms of pain, build confidence and provide physical activity, meditation and self-care.
Group yoga programs can help those who have become socially isolated due to pain to rebuild connection with their community, and contribute by supporting others going through the same thing.
Ultimately, we want people who have experienced long term pain to do more than simply manage their pain. We want them to live healthy, meaningful lives and access the benefits of true yoga.
Progress so far
From 2015-17 Yoga for Pain Care Australia trained over 90 health professionals and yoga teachers in NSW, Victoria, WA, ACT, NZ, and Queensland. Together they cover more than a dozen cities and towns around Australia, and a diverse range of services at a range of price points.
To help build capacity in regional areas we offer a highly subsidised rate and additional mentoring for a country yoga teacher at each training in Australia. Three teachers have so far received this special opportunity. One resulting impact is that Bunbury, a town in WA’s southwest, now has two yoga classes dedicated to people with Multiple Sclerosis.
- Choice – everyone is able to, and has the right to, practice yoga, should they choose. Yoga is not a medical treatment and it’s not something you can “do” to someone.
- Health is a means to an end, not the ends. Specially taught yoga can help people with pain to heal trauma, move better, calm the nervous system and steady the mind. But this is only the beginning.
- Continuous learning – Yoga is a rich, lineage practice with many forms. Teaching yoga always honours this history and unfolding.
- Inquiry – Research can help validate yoga as a safe, effective practice but should never be used as the only means of determining its effect.
- Precision – For many who try yoga, even a beginners class is too much. Pain flares are common, not to mention the frustration of not being able to do what you feel you should be able to. By teaching in the right way, people with pain have a good introduction to yoga so they can continue safely, for long enough to experience the benefits of a full yoga practice. Most begin with hopes of symptom relief. They then find the practice brings much more.