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Adapted yoga for back pain

March 12, Toronto, Ont. – Finally, yoga designed specifically for back pain!  The Yoga Back Clinic – providing structured rehabilitative yoga in small class sizes – is opening in April 2013 in downtown Toronto.

March 19, 2013  By Massage Therapy Canada

from Harvard Medical School (2009) and the University of York (2012) shows that
an adapted form of yoga can have substantial benefits for back pain. But, this
is true only if the yoga is done correctly.  The wrong positions, poor quality supervision in large
classes, or pushing it too far, can have adverse effects.

developers of the Yoga Back Clinic wanted to bring this specialized yoga, in
smaller class sizes, into line with professional healthcare providers.  It is the clinic’s common-sense belief
that people help themselves most frequently and effectively when doing
something that they like.


clinic’s founder, Tom Barwell, had experienced problems with back pain.
Although he liked working with the health care professionals he visited, he
wasn’t finding that he experienced the relief from back pain that he needed. As
well, he was constantly given the regular sheet of home care exercises but,
like many people, didn’t feel comfortable (in fact didn’t even like) doing
these exercises at home!  With
these experiences in mind, he began looking for another solution for himself
and for other sufferers of back pain.

“To me,”
says Barwell, “it wasn’t just a matter of finding a great healthcare professional
to help me – that wasn’t enough. It was finding a movement modality that was
structured, safe and affordable enough for me between sessions. But more than
that, I wanted an inviting, accessible place to go to.  I didn’t like doing exercises on my own
at home, and didn’t feel safe going to a gym or normal yoga studio. At the same
time, I knew I had to do something!”

researching the most effective and affordable solutions, he decided to create
his own clinic. The result? A stand-alone yoga clinic that works in concert
with other healthcare professionals.

yoga levels are available at the clinic: gentle, intermediate, and open.  The first two are in classes limited to
12 people and run by instructors with years of rehabilitation experience and a
blend of physiotherapy and kinesiology training. Everyone who enters these
classes is assessed by a physiotherapist (PT) and the classes are overseen by
that same PT.  This results in a
highly structured environment as well as in a treatment plan that is covered by
insurance plans.

“open” level is a maintenance class, and is either for graduates of the other
two classes, or for people – most likely with previous back problems – who want
to work on prevention, rather than cure.

with qualified PTs, the clinic also has an experienced RMT on staff and a
Registered Dietitian. In addition, physiotherapy-recommended back products,
yoga mats, and clothing are available for purchase.

neither back pain, nor yoga, is all yang. 
The Yoga Back Clinic offers a healthy dose of yin, too. Clinic staff
also concentrates on the meditative aspects of yoga, taking our stressful and
sedentary lifestyles seriously to provide a very credible movement-based
therapy for backs.

more information, visit

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