Yoga Therapy for Low Back Pain & Sciatica, Central London

  • Date

    21st April 2017 - 23rd April 2017

  • Time:

    10:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Location:

    Diorama Arts Studio 201 Drummond Street Central London United Kingdom

Event Details

Low back pain (LBP) is one of the most common causes of disability.  It responds well to yoga.  This why the new NICE guidelines on non-specific lower back pain, published November 30th 2016 now recommend yoga as primary conservative therapy.  This is a hallmark moment for yoga’s inclusion in the NHS and this course is designed to give you the skills needed to best work with patients who have back pain, thus, responding to these new guidelines.

Most LBP in young and middle aged people is due to tense muscles and responds very well to general yoga classes. However, a significant proportion of cases are associated with structural abnormalities which can be aggravated by certain asanas. Herniated disc is the most common such condition in people aged 25-45 years and is one of the main precursors of long-term, disabling LBP. Some cases of herniated disc heal spontaneously but others undergo further degeneration and become entrenched. Appropriate management of herniated disc can aid recovery, whereas inappropriate activities can make it worse.

Disc herniation often causes sciatica. A portion of a disc in the lower spine bulges out and traps a root of the sciatic nerve, causing a shooting pain down the leg. In its acute stage this is easy to identify.  However, in its early stages and during recovery there are periods during which there is no sciatica but the disc is vulnerable and liable to relapse. These periods of risk can last several months or even longer. Quite often the sciatica becomes episodic with alternating acute and symptom-free periods, both of which are at greater-than-normal risk of exacerbation.

Yoga teachers and therapists should be aware of this and avoid teaching certain types of practice to students who are recovering from herniated disk. They should take this into account when one of their current or prospective students has LBP.  However, detecting the presence of herniated disc is not always simple.   Moreover, there can be other structural causes of LBP and sciatica which require different treatment from herniated disc.   Through this training you will know how to help students and keep them safe.  As more people will now attend yoga to deal with their LBP such training is vital for yoga teachers and therapists.

We cannot look to doctors for the assessment of LBP, apart from acute cases,  because they don’t usually diagnose herniated disk unless there has been persistent, severe sciatica for several weeks. Less severe conditions of herniated disk are also at risk of exacerbation by yoga. In order to help yoga teachers and therapists judge whether a person has a herniated disk in need of special precautions, Robin has developed CALBA, an online system for Computer-Assisted Low back Assessment. CALBA helps to identify herniated disk not only when there is sciatica but also in the early stages of herniation, and during recovery, when there is no sciatica. This provides a basis for deciding which yoga practices can be safely and effectively applied. CALBA also has the facility to monitor changes in the sciatica and LBP, as an aid to adapting the yoga regime to the changing levels of risk that occur during recovery from herniated disk.

This course will train yoga teachers and therapists to assess whether a person with LBP is likely to have a herniated disk and, if they have, the likely stage of recovery and degree of risk. This will enable them to decide whether or not to accept the person into a yoga class and what precautions the person should take in that class. The workshop will also train yoga teachers and therapists how to design and apply therapeutic yoga regimes for individual practice by people with herniated disk which is too much at risk for a general yoga class.

NICE Guidelines on Low Back Pain and Sciatica

The publication of these guidelines is exciting, but they give no guidance on the types of yoga that can be safely and effectively used for LBP and sciatica.  Moreover, there have been several research trials showing that appropriately-designed yoga regimes can help in the management of non-specific LBP (i.e. LBP without sciatica) but only two trials, which provide evidence that suitable yoga therapy is safe and effective for the treatment of sciatica with herniated disc. Of the two trials on yoga tor herniated disc, the most relevant one was carried out by Dr. Monro et al; and both trials employed a yoga sequence similar to the one which will be taught on this workshop.  Our trained LBP yoga therapists will thus be uniquely well-placed to qualify for referrals by general practitioners of  their patients with sciatica and herniated disc.

Eligibility.  Yoga therapists and teachers who want to deepen their understanding of low back pain (LBP) and sciatica, and learn how to apply yoga safely to these conditions.

Purpose.   To introduce those who wish to truly be skilled in using yoga therapy to treat back to consolidate and deepen their understanding of the subject.  If you attached the March 2016, this course will also deepen your knowledge

Goal.  To enable those attending to progress towards being able to work safely and effectively with different types of LBP and sciatica.  Those who attend and attain an adequate understanding of the subject will be able to take on students/clients with relatively mild conditions of LBP under expert supervision.  This will in turn enable them to progress towards being accepted by the Yoga Biomedical Trust as LBP specialists and have clients with LBP referred to them   For further information on this topic go to


Day One (21 April 2017)

10:00 Chanting and meditation
10:15 Anatomy, physiology, pathology and natural history of LBP:  1. Overview & herniated disc.
11:15 BREAK
11:30 Assessment of LBP:  1. Basic principles (Lecture & practice)
12:30 Yoga therapy:  1. Basic yoga sequence for LBP (Lecture and practice)
14:00 Yoga nidra
14:15 Assessment of LBP. 2. Standing observations and tests  ( Lecture & practice)

15:30 BREAK
15:45 Q and A
16:15 Yoga therapy. 2. Herniated disk  (Lecture & practice)
17:00 END

Day Two (22 April 2017)

10:00 Chanting and meditation
10:15 Anatomy, physiology, pathology and natural history of LBP:  2. Other LBP conditions
11:15 BREAK
11:30 Assessment of LBP:  3. Supine  tests  (Lecture and demonstration)
12:30 Yoga therapy:  3. Other types of LBP  (Practice)
14:00 Yoga nidra
14:15 Assessment of LBP:  4. Prone tests.  (Lecture & practce)

15:30 BREAK
15:45 Q and A
16:15 Yoga therapy: 4. Further considerations (Practice)
17:00 END

Day Three (23 April 2017)

10:00 Chanting and meditation
10:15  Assessment of LBP: 5, Review  (Lecture & practice)

11:30 Assessment and yoga therapy: Case 1 (Demonstration)
12:30 Assessment and yoga therapy: Case 2 (Demonstration)

14:00 Yoga nidra
14:15 Assessment and yoga therapy: Case 3 (Demonstration)

15:45 BREAK
16:00 Discussion and summing up
16:45 Meditation

17:00 ENDq

Robin Monro, PhD

Robin started as research molecular biologist and then shifted to yoga therapy, following cure of asthma by yoga.  In 1983 he founded Yoga Biomedical Trust (1983) after training with leading yoga therapists from SVYASA and KaivalyadhamaIn 1990 he pioneered book on yoga therapy: Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR and Monro R Yoga for Common Ailments. GAIA Books (1990).  Robin Dr, Monro is credited with establishing the UK’s first Yoga Therapy Diploma Course (trained over 100 professional yoga therapy practitioners).  His current focus is the research and development of yoga therapy for LBP and he is devoted to bringing together medical science and yoga.

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