What does it mean to be “Pain Care Aware”?

Being Pain Care Aware is more than dropping the cue “if it hurts don’t do that”. It is understanding pain, the lived experience of pain and what to do when there is pain in yoga. Pain Care Aware (PCA) integrates pain science and yoga teachings, shifting from inadvertently creating fear and a sense of fragility to exploring paths of greater potential and resiliency. Our broader intention is to decrease the impact of pain on society. We support yoga teachers, yoga therapists and health professionals with techniques, perspectives and knowledge to integrate yoga and science into their work. 

What happens when pain shows up?

No doubt you have experienced pain that was not ‘in the right spot’ (tooth aches), out of proportion with the injury (paper cuts), or the quality of the pain didn’t match the issue in the body (burning pain from a hand in ice water). When there is pain in yoga, we cannot rely on our first experience of the pain as an accurate indication of how bad the problem is, where it is, or what is it. Neither should we ignore it. PCA guides us to the ‘edge of the pain’ – to where we feel safe to explore. Through embodied experiences of the multifaceted nature of pain, we learn that pain care includes, but is not limited to how we position and move our body.

Common misconceptions about pain:

  • Pain is immutable.
  • Pain management is finding the one thing that will stop the pain.
  • Pain equals damage.
  • We can learn to cope with chronic pain but we cannot change the pain itself.
  • If the body tissue is not normal, this pain cannot be changed.
  • It is not possible to have chronic pain and to live well.

When you are Pain Care Aware:

  • You gain a deeper understanding of pain and recognise its complexities
  • You know that pain is a human condition.  
  • You acknowledge yoga is well-suited to preventing and treating persistent pain.
  • You are confident and compassionate, having many options when a student or client has pain during yoga. 
  • You incorporate language and an approach that guides students to be curious about pain. 

Pain is Changeable. There is hope.

Pain science and yoga tell us that pain itself can be changed. We can influence how we consciously respond to pain, we can also influence autonomic responses, and we can influence pain itself. We can influence pain AND we can live well in pain.

YOGA♥ Magazine - Pain Care Aware founders
YOGA♥ Magazine - Pain Care Aware founders
YOGA♥ Magazine - Pain Care Aware founders

Swami (Swarupananda) Lisa has lived well with Fibromyalgia for over three decades by combining updated knowledge of pain science along with techniques and compassionate practices of kriya yoga. In their dharma as a yoga educator, Lisa saw how class cueing did not well-serve people who live with persisting pain, or anyone experiencing pain in yoga classes. 

Neil’s inspiration has always been the people he has served. Immediately after graduation it was apparent that what he learned in university was of little value in caring for his patients with persisting pain. After decades of teaching pain science to medical professionals, Pain Care Aware allows yoga practitioners increased access to modern pain science. 

Swami Lisa and Professor Pearson have now created an online self-paced interactive and reflective learning process. Thirty+ hours of continuing education as the first step – Pain Care Aware Foundations. Following this, teachers can complete a facilitated practicum in which they attain the Pain Care Aware Certificate in group applications. 

Pain Care Aware has a mission of decreasing the impact of pain on society. Please join us.

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