Yoga for healthy lower backs

Alison Trewhela from Truro has been passionate about helping people ease their back pain through yoga for more than 25 years.

A yoga teacher since 1983, in 2006 she designed a Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs (YHLB) programme for the University of York/Arthritis Research UK randomised control trial and now leads a highly qualified Cornwall YHLB Teaching Team.

She tells us about how the course could help people control the discomfort.

“YHLB is a gentle 12-week mind-body exercise programme for people with persistent, episodic or recurring back pain, and it offers a potentially life-long solution.  Attendees learn how to use strengthening, mobilising, stretching and pain-relieving poses, relaxation and breathing techniques, and postural awareness exercises that aid a return to normal activity levels at work, home and leisure.  They gain extra psychological support from group learning and benefit from positive ‘side-effects’, e.g. reduced time off work and improved mood.”

Alison explained that Public Health England had included YHLB as one of seven evidence-based Musculoskeletal options in their Return on Investment Interventions report, with YHLB showing a £10 return on investment for every £1 spent (taking all factors into account).

She added that the YHLB programme is being successfully piloted by the NHS in Cornwall through GPs subsidising course costs for patients, through social prescribing, and through subsidised courses for Cornwall Partnership Foundation Trust Primary Care staff.

Steering group member and GP, Dr Emma Campbell said that as more and more GPs, pain management teams and physiotherapists are aware of and recommending YHLB, she would be keen to see it more widely available across Cornwall to support back pain sufferers in their self-management, but long-term part-NHS funding will be required to help people cover costs.

Mancy Lancaster has first hand experience of using YHLB and said: “I thought I had reached a depressing downward spiral tipping point after a terrible year resulting in time off work.  However, words can’t explain how different I feel now – this course has changed my body and my mental perspective.  I am extremely grateful to my GP surgery for subsidising the costs to enable myself and others to benefit from what is a truly unique and wonderfully empowering course.  I sincerely hope others will be able to benefit.”

To find out more about this nationwide quality-assured and evidence-based project, which has its roots in Cornwall, visit: