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Yoga and Science in Pain Care

Treating the Person in Pain

edited by Neil Pearson, Shelly Prosko & Marlysa Sullivan

contributions by Joletta Belton, Matthew J. Taylor, Dr Steffany Moonaz, Lori Rubenstein Fazzio, Staffan Elgelid, Matt Erb, Michael Lee, Tracey Meyers & Antonio Sausys

Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Initial publish date
Aug 2019
Yoga, Pain Management
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Aug 2019
    List Price

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The book takes an integrated approach to pain rehabilitation and combines pain science, rehabilitation and yoga with evidence-based approaches from respected contributors. They demonstrate how to integrate the concepts, philosophies and practices of yoga and pain science in working with pain clients.


An essential and often overlooked part of pain rehabilitation is listening to, working with, learning from, and validating the person in pain’s lived experience. This book focuses on how practitioners can apply patient-centered care and shared decision making in yoga therapy. The book expounds on the movement to a more partnership-based biopsychosocial-spiritual model of healthcare where the patient is an active participant, as opposed to a model where the healthcare provider is “fixing” the passive patient. It also explains how practitioners can address the entire human being in pain, and how to include the person as an expert for more effective and self-empowered care.

About the authors

Neil Pearson's profile page

Shelly Prosko's profile page

Marlysa Sullivan's profile page

Joletta Belton's profile page

Matthew J. Taylor's profile page

Dr Steffany Moonaz's profile page

Lori Rubenstein Fazzio's profile page

Dr Staffan Elgelid PT, PhD, GCFP, RYT-500 is an Associate Professor of Physical Therapy at Nazareth College in Rochester NY. Staffan is a Physical Therapist, Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner and Yoga Therapist. He teaches in yoga therapy programs, conducts workshops nationally and internationally and sees private clients. His main approach with clients is to use smart exercises, movements and lifestyle changes to help them build a nervous system that is robust and agile. This in turn allows them to learn new activities, enhance athletic performance, and withstand the stresses of daily life no matter what their level of activity, age or situation.
Staffan is the co-author of Yoga for Stress and Anxiety and Yoga for Active Adults. He has also produced DVDs on topics such as core training and yoga for sports. Staffan is on the Advisory Board of the IAYT and is a board member of the Yoga Alliance.

Staffan Elgelid's profile page

Matt Erb's profile page

Michael Lee is an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science at Hunter College.

Michael Lee's profile page

Tracey Meyers' profile page

Antonio Sausys' profile page

Editorial Reviews

Yoga is a popular form of movement and meditation, used often by people experiencing pain as a way to develop confidence and capacity for coping with the challenge that persistent pain poses. This insightful and both research and experience-based book explores yoga therapy as a treatment and living practice. The authors provide an integrated, in-depth understanding of how yoga therapy can be incorporated within a modern understanding of pain as an experience. The book encompasses perspectives from people living with pain, summarises research progress in the field, debates theories of pain and pain management, considers the many different yoga practices, describes pain biology, self-regulation and examines breath, body awareness, nutrition, emotions and responses to pain, and above all, integrates concern for practitioners and people with pain as humans sharing an intangible experience together. The authors write with precision and care to ensure novice and expert alike will learn more about how yoga therapy can provide a uniting and compassionate approach to helping people with pain learn to live well.

Bronwyn Lennox Thompson, PhD, MSc, DipOT, Postgraduate Academic Programme Leader, Pain and Pain Management, Orthopaedic Surgery & Musculoskeletal Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, NZ

Detailed and concise aren't two words that are often used together. That is what you will get in Yoga and Science in Pain Care. Whether you are looking for explanations of pain, or applications of the biopsychosocial model, or how being curious improves outcomes, there is plenty to sink your teeth into without either fluff or overwhelm. The time is right for this book, and I'm glad for its publication. It will help transform rehabilitation and healthcare.

Susi Hately, B.Sc. Kin, C-IAYT, Training Health Professionals How to Integrate Yoga Into Rehabilitation

Shelly Prosko, Neil Pearson and Marlysa Sullivan's book Yoga and Science in Pain Care is a must-read for all yoga therapists, yoga practitioners, researchers and of course, people in pain. The editors and contributors are all published authors and researchers with hands-on clinical experience, using yoga for healing. This unique book emphasizes the importance of empowering the patient to be actively involved and part of the healing process through yoga. I strongly recommend this book and congratulate the authors and the contributors.

Shirley Telles, MBBS, Ph.D. Director, Patanjali Research Foundation

Pain is complex, requiring a multifaceted approach to successfully understanding and designing effective interventions for pain care. As a psychologist and yoga therapist who has worked in the field of pain management for over four decades, I deeply appreciate Yoga and Science in Pain Care as a valuable addition to the field of pain management. This carefully crafted book offers us a vast and priceless array of theoretical and practical insights, interventions, and resources for enhancing our ability to fully understand, support, and provide effective pain care for individuals living with pain.

Richard C. Miller, PhD. Co-Founder, The International Association of Yoga Therapy and developer of iRest Meditation: Restorative Practices for Health, Resiliency, and Well-Being

Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain is a book that every yoga teacher and therapist should study. It offers current, real, and inspired wisdom on the effects of acute or chronic pain and how to manage it through yoga. It addresses the complex issues around pain, and how mind/body yoga techniques can change the responses of our nervous system toward pain. This book offers hope to those suffering from pain and those who treat them. These compassionate therapists have provided for us through stories, scientific research, and experience, a safe and invaluable pathway to the future of successful pain management.

Marion (Mugs) McConnell, author of Letters from the Yoga Masters: Teachings Revealed Through Correspondence from Paramhansa Yogananda, Ramana Maharshi, Swami Sivananda and Others

An outstanding new book on Yoga therapy, integrative medicine and pain control. Highly recommended for licensed health professionals, certified Yoga therapists,Yoga teachers and anyone in pain.

Larry Payne Ph.D., C-IAYT, E-RYT500 Founding director Yoga Therapy Rx & Prime of Life Yoga programs Loyola Marymount University

This book is the only book I've come across in the yoga space about pain science that is directly related to yoga. By offering the insight of numerous experts, Yoga and Science in Pain Care fills that gap and dispels common myths about yoga and the biomedical model. It is an excellent pain science resource for yoga teacher trainers and their students.

Trina Altman PMA®-CPT, E-RYT

Yoga and Science in Pain Care is an extraordinarily in-depth, multi-dimensional look at pain. Utilizing both the lenses of the state-of-the-art neurobiological understanding of pain and the broad therapeutic wisdom from the yoga tradition, this text is a necessary reference for anyone wanting to better understand the complexity of chronic pain and the conceptual models for skillfully addressing the suffering of this epidemic.

Kimberly Carson, MPH, C-IAYT co-author Relax Into Yoga for Chronic Pain (December 2019, New Harbinger)

Let's get Yoga and Science in Pain Care into the hands of people with persistent pain - and those who love and work with them - as soon as possible! The diverse voices and perspectives offer something for every reader. As a psychotherapist and yoga therapist, I am incredibly compelled by this informative discussion of treatment approaches. It is brilliantly clear, compassionate, and grounded in science. An essential companion for anyone living or working with persistent pain!

Erin Byron, MA, RP, C-IAYT, author of Yoga for the Creative Soul, co-author Yoga Therapy for Stress & Anxiety & Yoga Therapy for Arthritis

Pain exists in a spectrum, some of which is visible like a rainbow, other aspects intangible dark matter, and still other facets burn so bright they are unseeable. The authors of Yoga and Science in Pain Care have elegantly illuminated theory, history, clinical expertise, and personal practice so that laymen, clinicians, and the yoga community can have a resource on every page of this text. Jump into any chapter and deepen the trust you have in your own experience of pain while gaining insight, hope and new coping strategies for yourself or your clients. The book is kindly peppered with rich experiential moments that bring you into embodied consciousness in every chapter

Jill Miller, author of The Roll Mode, Creator of Yoga Tune Up®

Yoga and Science in Pain Care is an extraordinary book. I was hooked in the first chapter when I read, "My pain allowed me to develop a different relationship... and new understanding of myself." This book weaves hard science with self-empathy. It connects the inner workings of the nervous system with the ancient teachings of the gunas. I was truly fascinated reading every chapter. I found that I could not put the book down. It is ground breaking and every person who deals with pain personally or professionally will gain a new perspective.

Amy Wheeler, Ph.D. Professor of Kinesiology at California State University, President of Board of the International Association of Yoga Therapists

Yoga and Science in Pain Care expanded the breadth AND depth of my understanding of pain and its many limbs. Integrating contemporary science and ancient principles of being and practice, the authors illustrate creative, experiential, and heart-centered ways of serving those living in pain.

Maxi Miciak PhD, PT

It is a daunting task to bridge the gap between the timeless experiential teachings and practices of yoga and the experimental, evidence based approach of modern medical science. Yet, this book Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain does it in an extraordinary manner. Having known all three editors and a majority of the contributors personally for many years, this exemplary contribution to the field of yoga therapy and healthcare, truly gladdens my heart as multidimensional applied aspects of yoga come alive in their universal magnificence. There is no greater joy and fulfillment of purpose in one's life than the ability and opportunity to help another fellow human being transcend their pain and suffering. This splendid book is a "must" for anyone who wishes to deal with the pandemic of persistent pain as it offers a way out of the maze of human suffering thus enabling us to become what we must BE; loving and compassionate humane beings.

Yogacharya Dr Ananada Balayogi Bhavanani MBBS, MD (AM), DSc (Yoga), C-IAYT Member National Board for Yoga in the Ministry of AYUSH, Govt of India and Director, CYTER of Sri Balaji Vidyapeeth, Pondicherrry, India.

The evolution of yoga in the modern world had led to a reevaluation of what the gurus taught us about the body, pain and healing. As teachers are moving away from dogmas into new awareness, the cutting edge of pain science is providing valuable information and insights. In Yoga and Science in Pain Care: Treating the Person in Pain, we are presented with a clear assessment of where we are and where the research is leading us. This collection of clinicians, practitioners and thinkers provides us a roadmap for bridging the best of east and west, and advancing our knowledge of humanity for the greater good.

J. Brown, Yoga Teacher, Writer, Podcaster

Someone with a painful back doesn't think about a forward bend in the same way as a yoga teacher, or pain scientist. Yoga and Science in Pain Care will help you translate different languages for talking about the body and mind, and build a vision of Yoga for pain relief that is accurate, compassionate and empowering.

Todd Hargrove, Author of Playing With Movement: How to Explore the Many Dimensions of Physical Performance and Health

This is an essential resource for yoga teachers too, as it is not uncommon for doctors to recommend yoga to their patients for back pain. Yoga teachers tend to work with people in pain at some point; and while it is not our job to treat them, it is our responsibility to help them. The authors of Yoga and Science in Pain Care have done a stellar job integrating pain science into the context of yoga. Utilizing this current information on pain science will bring a new level of integrity and professionalism to yoga teachers.

Ariana Rabinovitch Founder,

Yoga and Science in Pain Care provides both patients and practitioners alike with a truly unique guide to decoding the pain puzzle with science and yoga-based therapeutics. In an ever-evolving arena of research, discovery and perspectives, each chapter takes a science-based approach to analyzing different angles of pain care that together creates the most comprehensive body of work available on the topic.

Diana Zotos Florio, Physical Therapist, Yoga Teacher, Strength & Conditioning Specialist MPT, CYT, CSCS

Yoga and Science in Pain Care is a must-read for anyone recommending yoga or teaching classes in yoga for people living with pain. It skillfully weaves together stories of the lived experience with neurobiological rational and practical guidance. All readers, regardless of their past experience with yoga or pain science, will treasure this book as an essential resource for its comprehensive, yet relaxed and conversational approach to complex topics.

Susan Tupper, PT, PhD, Strategy Consultant, Pain Quality Improvement, Saskatchewan Health Authority

Yoga and Science in Pain Care is a 'master text' that seamlessly integrates contemporary scientific understanding with the breadth of yogic body-mind principles. Written in a manner that will appeal to both those appreciating a level of scientific rigor and those more attuned to the broader, more wholistic approach, this text should be part of the professional library for all yoga teachers and therapists. The list of editors and contributors is a 'who's who' of leaders in the field of therapeutic yoga.

Leigh Blashki, C-IAYT, Past-President, Yoga Australia, Founder – Australian Institute of Yoga Therapy

The medical industry has oversimplified and overtreated patients in a fragmented way without addressing the wholeness of their suffering and perpetuating a myopic view of pain. Yoga and Science in Pain Care will help the world see that the yogic wisdom of the ages is converging with scientific revelations-that the only way toward sustainable transformation for those suffering with pain is to restore the whole person and facilitate change in all of its complexity.

Melissa Cady, D.O. "The Challenge Doctor" ( Osteopathic Physician, Author, PAINDEMIC: A Practical and Holistic Look at Chronic Pain, the Medical System, and the antiPAIN Lifestyle Founder,

Yoga and Science in Pain Care is a much-needed book for everyone involved with persons who have persistent pain. The contributors are well known, respected teachers and practitioners in yoga, as well as in their respective rehabilitation professions. The books first chapter should be read and reflected on by everyone involved with pain care. The book follows the tone that is set in the first chapter, and is a wonderful mixture of science, stories and practical examples. Thanks to all the contributors for sharing your wisdom through this book.

Staffan Elgelid PhD, PT, GCFT, C-IAYT, RYT-500

This extraordinary exploration of the multi-dimensional experience called "Pain" will greatly benefit not only yoga therapists, but a wide range of healthcare practitioners from psychologists and physiotherapists to even nutritionists, who all share the desire to care for their clients as individuals from an integrative and biopsychological-spiritual perspective

Maggie Reagh, Director of Yoga Therapy International

The collaboration of these dedicated educators, most of whom I know and dearly value, is a gift to professionals in the field, and in turn, to those who suffer. They have put forth an authentic, credible, practical, compassionate and thorough exploration of the experiences of, and caring for, human "beings".Viewed through the lenses of modern science and yogic wisdom, it proves to hold deep respect for the uniqueness of individuals living with pain by honouring the complexity of the human system.

Helene Couvrette C-IATY, E-RYT500, Yoga Educator President MISTY - Montreal International Symposium on Therapeutic Yoga

A refreshing holistic approach to pain care which integrates a biopsychosocial framework for managing pain and moving through life with more grace and freedom. Yoga provides a valuable lens for compassionate curiosity towards the experience of pain and what else might be possible.

Michele Theoret MS, MA Counselling Psychology, E-RYT 500, Yoga Therapist

I am confident you will learn as much as I did while reading this amazing timely collaborative book- about unique approaches to yoga in the setting of chronic pain, such as Lori Rubenstein Fazzio's Virtual MRI, Michael Lee's conditions for transformation, not to mention what we do and do not yet know about how yoga impacts the course of persistent pain. This text is destined to become an instant classic and required reading in the field of yoga therapy, and its impact will no doubt be felt in many other fields working with persistent pain.

Baxter Bell, MD, co-author of the book Yoga for Healthy Aging

In Yoga and Science in Pain Care, Pearson, Prosko, and Sullivan have crafted a scholarly and clinically oriented book linking Yoga practices and philosophy with the management of pain. This readable volume provides insight into how Yoga can become an integral component of a treatment model for pain. The contents bridge disciplines and provide, through various scientific and clinical perspectives, an accessible integrated understanding of how pain can be managed through a deeper understanding of yoga by exploring the methods, neurophysiological mechanisms, and philosophy embedded in various forms of yoga.

Stephen W Porges, PhD, Distinguished University Scientist, Indiana University, Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina, and author of The Pocket Guide to the Polyvagal Theory: The Transformative Power of Feeling Safe

What an incredible body of work. Finally, a book that thoughtfully brings together the science of pain, the wisdom of yoga, and the heart of understanding to look at the complexity of pain and pain care. A must read for health professionals and yoga therapists who want real answers to help improve the lives of those living in pain.

Michele Lawrence, Director, Inner Peace Yoga Therapy

This book is a long overdue integration of yoga into multidisciplinary health care. Here, modern pain sciences are blended with ancient wisdom and I was left with the overall view that peace should be used as a health outcome.

David Butler PT, EdD. Associate Professor, University of South Australia and Director, Neuro Orthopaedic Institute

This book is a comprehensive volume explaining the philosophy and practice of yoga, as well as its benefit as a complementary therapy for those who are suffering with pain. Written by Health Care Professionals who are leaders in the field of Yoga Therapy, it provides a scientifically sound basis for the incorporation of therapeutic yoga in treating the current epidemic of chronic pain. It is essential reading for practitioners looking for a non-pharmaceutical alternative to offer those in pain.

Shailla Vaidya MD, MPH, CCFP(EM), E-RYT, C-IAYT, Founder - the Yoga MD, Mind-Body Medicine for Stress Resilience

After first experiencing one of Pearson's lectures, I suddenly felt I had been given permission by the scientific evidence to use my yoga toolset to work with my own pain - to actually listen to my body and respond - thus sparking a pivotal moment where I entered into a healthy relationship with my pain. I began supporting my clients to do the same, and have since brought Pearson and Prosko back to give lectures, where I've watched them ignite this same spark in students and rehabilitation professionals alike. And in this new book by Pearson, Prosko, Sullivan and other fellow spirited change-makers, I see the same spark - an influence that will no doubt continue to radiate, illuminating the way to a necessary paradigm shift in pain care.

Cassi Kit Director, Faculty, & Administrative Coordinator Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT, PYT)

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