This is a simple guide to how Yoga could help those with back problems.

Yoga is a wonderful way to stretch and relax those tired, and perhaps unused aching muscles and relieve symptoms of tension. 

A safe exercise system that is good for the mind, as well as the body!

Yoga is suitable for all ages and abilities.

No complicated or expensive equipment is required, just a mat (sleeping bag will do) and to wear loose fitting clothing.

Yoga Philosophy & Pain Management

When I first began to learn some of the principles of Pain Management I was very interested in the similarities to some of the fundamental principles which underlie the ancient art of Yoga.

The basic principles which Yoga is based on are correct exercise, correct breathing, correct nutrition, proper relaxation and proper thinking. How similar these are to what we learn on the Think-Back programme.

The correct sort of exercise is not only good for us but essential. Being able to breathe deeply and freely is a way of managing our pain and helping us to release tension and relax quickly. Following a healthy diet supports our efforts in maintaining a sensible weight and improves energy levels. Practising relaxation regularly will help to relax both the body and the mind and help close the body's pain gates. Having the right attitude towards living with chronic pain is essential if we are to face our daily mental challenges. We learn on the programme that we are responsible for our thinking. We may not be able to change the situation that we find ourselves in, but we can change the way we think about it, which will in turn affect how we feel about it. 'As I think, so I am'. In Yoga it is thought that if we have a flexible body we shall have a flexible mind!

Yoga encourages us not judge ourselves or others. In pain management we have to steer ourselves away from the 'I should's' and the 'I musts' which can rule our lives. Marvel at yourself and how far you have come so far. Work with what you have got and can do today, rather than mourn the past. Release yourself from blaming others for your situation, maybe your Doctor or Surgeon. Have some kind thoughts towards them, they are human too and will make mistakes, just like you. Deal with any strong feelings and emotions in a positive way. (Pillow bashing is effective!)

Yoga very much encourages a 'day at a time' philosophy. Live for today, stay in the now. 'Yesterday is history, Tomorrow is a mystery,' But keep on keeping on with your goals and ambitions. Your potential is boundless.

Yoga has an 'I can' philosophy and I would encourage anyone who is studying pain management to have a deeper look into this life sustaining science. 



To breathe is to be alive! Our breath is the vehicle that carries us from birth to death! Should we not then pay it some respect and take an interest in this mostly unconscious action?

We breathe in and we breathe out, day in and day out, without ever really paying much attention to our breathing. We are reminded from time to time how important our very 'lifes' breath is, if we ever happen to suffer from a respiratory complaint which restricts our breathing in some way. Perhaps only then do we realise how vital to just 'breathe' truly is.


In Yoga there is great emphasis on studying the importance of breathing, it is called 'PRANAYAMA', an ancient Sanskrit word meaning 'to control the life force contained within the energy of the breath.' There are many different breathing practices in Yoga, which take time and practice to learn. Find a good Yoga Teacher if you are interested in exploring this area further.


The breath is used as a tool for meditation practices. The qualities of the breath can be observed, is it cool as it enters your nostrils, warm as it leaves your nostrils? What type of rhythmic pattern does your breath follow? Is there a sound attached to your breath? Can you direct your breath to areas of discomfort and pain? Maybe your breath can help to soften those areas. Counting your breath is a popular way of meditating. Count your 'out' breaths for 10, then pause and return to 0 and begin counting again. It's harder than it sounds, but remember that the breath is always there to count, so you can never loose where you've got to. It makes a change from counting sheep too!! Give it a go and explore your breathing more fully.


Take a special interest in your breathing when you stretch and exercise. Whenever you begin stretching try to remember to stretch on the out breath. The out breath, the exhalation, is the relaxing part of the breath and will therefore make the stretch more comfortable and enjoyable. Try adding a smile to your face, which will increase those good vibrations in the body and mind.

Avoid holding your breath at all times. This only creates tension in the body and mind, starving the muscles of oxygen and creating a panic situation in the mind, wondering where the next breath is coming from. For a few moments before you begin stretching and exercising, focus your awareness on your breathing. This will in turn then help you to remember to breathe as you begin to move the body.

Use the breath as an indicator as to how the body and mind are coping with the task you are undertaking. If your breath is flowing freely and relaxed, you are coping well and should continue with the activity. If your breathing is becoming laboured or strained in any way, or worse still you are holding your breath, then it is time to stop and rest.


As mentioned above, the breath is a tool for focusing the mind on in meditation, so it is a tool for helping to relax the mind and body in relaxation practices. By learning to focus the mind on the breathing in relaxation, helps to keep stray thoughts from entering the mind and disturbing the calmness and peacefulness of the relaxation. If the mind wanders, lead it gently back to the breath which has after all, been carrying on all the while that your attention has slipped away. Experience your in breath, the inhalation, revitalising your body and mind, renewing and restoring to balance every part of you. Experience your out breath, the exhalation, relaxing every part of your body and mind, helping you to let go of tension and stress that little bit more.

A breathing exercise that combines both mediation and relaxation for the body and mind is to count the breath in and out of the body, trying to make the in and out breath of equal length. For example, you can try counting the breath in for 2 counts, and therefore counting the breath out for 2 counts. You may be able to pick a higher number than 2, maybe 3 or 4 or even 5 if you have a wonderful lung capacity, but it must be achievable and relaxing. If the breath becomes strained or you are having a competition with yourself then you have missed the point of the exercise! So choose a low number to begin with and explore this practice with awareness and respect.


As The Buddha said "Breathe in, Breathe out, Ahhhhhhhh!!"