Yoga for Pain Care Australia exists so that all people with, or at risk of, persistent pain – including those who are out of work, on low incomes or otherwise socially isolated – have the pathways and support to transition from reliance on medical care to self-management and a meaningful, healthy life.
How we do it
We partner with industry and regional experts to train and support health professionals, yoga teachers and social service providers in a yoga-based approach to community-based pain care. These professionals get even better at helping their clients reduce and prevent pain; people with pain get access to local, non-medical services that they actually enjoy; and communities enjoy greater social and physical health.
Behind the scenes we also:
- Provide community and professional education about what yoga and Yoga for Pain are, and how they can be designed to meet community needs
- Develop Yoga for Pain, a field of practice that examines the role of yoga in pain care. This includes how yoga can help people reduce, manage or prevent symptoms. It also includes how yoga can help health professionals make sense of pain.
Why it’s important
Chronic pain affects 1 in 5 people, including children and adolescents. While treated as a medical condition, pain also 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 offers a natural transition from medical care to community, and can address many of the social and psychological factors of long term pain, as well as the determinants of long term health in our communities.
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
- Skills in outcomes-based yoga and program design
- 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.
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 full benefits of true yoga.
Progress so far
From 2015-18 Yoga for Pain Care Australia trained over 100 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 build capacity in regional areas we offered a highly subsidised rate and additional mentoring for a country yoga teacher at each training in Australia. Three teachers received that special opportunity.
In a partnership with not-for-profit community health agency GP down south, that ran from 2018 to 2019, we equipped providers in regional WA chronic health hot spots to offer pain care yoga as a transitionary service. (Read more in the blog.)
- Choice – everyone is able, 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 honours this history and future unfolding.
- Inquiry – Research can help validate yoga as a safe, effective practice but should not be 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 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.