Chiropractic + Naturopathic Doctor

Adapted yoga for back pain

Maria DiDanieli   

Features Clinical Techniques

Mar 7,
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,
just two minutes from Dupont subway in downtown Toronto.

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 the 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.

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.

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.

result? A stand-alone yoga clinic that works in concert with other healthcare

yoga levels are available at the clinic; gentle, intermediate, and open.  The first two are in classes limited to
12 people, 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, and the classes are overseen by that same
physiotherapist).  This results in
a highly structured environment as well as in a treatment plan and adapted yoga
that is covered by insurance plans.

The 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. 

clinic also has an experienced RMT on staff, a Registered Dietitian, and
well-qualified psychotherapists. 
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.

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