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New Guidelines for Back Pain Include Yoga

by Shirley Archer, JD, MA on Jan 01, 2008

Mind-Body-Spirit News

Mainstream healthcare practitioners can now confidently encourage yoga practice for clients with low-back pain. New clinical practice guidelines issued jointly by the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society recommend the practice of viniyoga-style yoga (among other options, such as acupuncture, exercise, massage, progressive relaxation and cognitive-behavioral therapy) as a moderately effective, nonpharmacologic therapy for individuals with chronic low-back pain. This condition is defined as back pain that is present for more than 3 months. The guidelines were published in the October 2, 2007, issue of The Annals of Internal Medicine (2007; 147 [7], 478–91).

To support the yoga practice recommendation, the article references the study “Comparing Yoga, Exercise, and a Self-Care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain,” published in the Annals of Internal Medicine (2005; 143 [12], 849–56). The viniyoga sequence used in that study was designed by Gary Kraftsow, director of the American Viniyoga Institute, and yoga therapist Robin Rothenberg and was profiled in the May 2006 IDEA Fitness Journal Mind-Body News column. To view the sequence of poses, go to and click on “Appendix Figure” in the right-hand column.

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About the Author

Shirley Archer, JD, MA

Shirley Archer, JD, MA IDEA Author/Presenter

Shirley Archer, JD, MA, was the 2008 IDEA Fitness Instructor of the Year and is IDEA's mind-body-spirit spokesperson. She is a certified yoga and Pilates teacher and an award-winning author based in Los Angeles, California, and Zurich, Switzerland. Two of her books, The Walking Deck and The Strength and Toning Deck, are now featured as iPhone apps. Contact her at