Our work began in 2009 when Rachael West developed a yoga program for people with persistent pain. Her aim was simply to help them get their lives back. Rachael used the frameworks of her University Diploma in Yogic Education to design a program that helped people with long term pain and fatigue to reconsider the way they moved, related to others, and decided what was most important for their lives.
She quickly realised that one person could never do enough. Rachael learnt, through interviews and research, of the toll chronic pain was taking, not just on individuals, but on the health care system and the clinicians who wanted to make a difference.
Rachael teamed up with Nicole Moore a specialist pain physiotherapist with a neuroscience specialty, to train more providers. As a tertiary pain clinic provider, Nicole had nowhere to send clients once their work was done – people were on their own. They ran a 3-day program across Australia and New Zealand, which educated allied health and other clinicians about the role of yoga in chronic pain care, and supported yoga teachers to modify their offers for those with pain.
Through that work, health professionals were better equipped to work with pain patients and to understand how to refer clients to yoga. Yoga teachers could tailor their teaching to specific needs, recognising the barriers people with chronic health issues face.
However, after two years, while the training had improve the working styles of the participants, it hadn’t led to new services in the community. People with pain still had nowhere guaranteed to go, and Nicole’s formal review of the training showed three days wasn’t enough to give yoga teachers the confidence they needed.
That’s when Rachael gave a TEDx talk, explaining the way principles of yogic education could be used to affordably scale targeted pain programs. This led to a partnership with not-for-profit GP down south to develop and run a program in chronic disease hot spots of Western Australia. Read about the program’s impact here.
Yoga for Pain Care Australia now offers a range of services to help clinics assess, improve and re-design their chronic pain services. We also offer support to workplaces who want to ensure employees and leaders can operate well, care for their health.