07 Apr Yoga for Pain is like learning maths
Five years talking with people with persistent pain about their needs, and interviews with Australian pain clinics, revealed a big gap that yoga could fill: people with persistent pain needed support transitioning into ordinary life after medical care.
We designed a training program that progresses students with persistent pain from pain-specific yoga (where they learn to reduce their symptoms) to pain-friendly yoga (general yoga classes with explicit permission to self-modify) and on to yoga they love.
We thought we’d add an extra challenge: to support people into an extraordinary life.
Pain-specific yoga is like year 1 maths. It’s simple but you wouldn’t want to miss it.
Pain-specific yoga helps people learn to reduce pain symptoms. They also reduce the likelihood of future pain though better movement and self-understanding. Most importantly, they embed skills that will allow them to eventually take on bigger life challenges.
If you never really get year 1 maths, you might fake it for a while but you’re unlikely to ever master high level algebra. But if you nail shapes and colours, year 2 mathematics is possible, and you eventually end up with a PhD in physics.
There are clear indicators that make progression to pain-friendly classes effortless.
You pass high school when you pass your final exam. You leave hospital when treatment is complete. Likewise, you move on from pain-specific yoga when you demonstrate its important lessons, like being able to comfortably modify postures and move without a pain flare.
Some master these foundations in an hour; others need six months.
Pain-friendly yoga allows people with pain to gently challenge themselves, with the support of a teacher who understands the challenges, frustrations and opportunities they may face.
Pain-specific and pain-friendly yoga classes are important steps to simply practicing yoga, as a person who happened to have pain.
Many people fall through the gap after pain treatment. A structured progression through pain-specific and pain-friendly yoga makes long term success much, much more likely.