An alternative approach to chronic pain

Chronic pain is a complicated process.  Any time pain lasts longer than “expected” (ex. beyond typical tissue healing time) it is considered chronic or persistent pain.

Pain is designed to be a protective mechanism during acute trauma or a threatening situation.  It is a helpful guide to let us know when we are approaching danger or damage to our bodies.  When it persists, or becomes chronic, it is likely no longer related to the tissues.  This is where it is important to understand the nervous system.  We have two main systems – the Sympathetic Nervous System “fight or flight” and the Parasympathetic Nervous System “rest and digest”.  Sometimes, it is as simple as working with the nervous system to change pain.  Getting out of “fight or flight” mode, and moving towards “rest and digest”.

Often it becomes even more complex – relating to past experiences, beliefs, and the general health and state of the body (hormones, immune system, stress, diet, sleep, etc)

Since chronic pain is not a straightforward issue of the tissue, it often responds best to a varied approach to treatment.  Things like safe, gentle exercise, breathing, body awareness, rhythmic movements, mindfulness and meditation, and lifestyle choices all play a part in unwinding the nervous system and breaking the pain cycle.

Yoga therapy is a well-rounded approach that addresses many aspects of pain and the nervous system.  With a basis in Physiotherapy and a broad spectrum of holistic treatment options, your session and home program will be specific to you.  Every yoga therapy session is different – some include hands on work with the joints and muscles, some are only exercise based, some include lifestyle and diet advice from an ayurvedic (yogic medicine) perspective.  There is always a focus on body awareness and building mindfulness – but every person is a little different, based on their needs and goals.

If you are interested in trying yoga therapy (or “Physio-Yoga” as I like to call it) either call the clinic or book online at

written by Kristie Norquay, physiotherapist and yoga therapist