What is Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs?

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs is a gentle, evidence-based, specially modified twelve-week course designed to improve chronic lower back pain and, gently and effectively, help people get back to being more active again.

The course is designed to give you long-term benefits. You will learn simple, gentle yoga poses, focusing on back comfort, good posture and improvement of back health for now and in the future. Aims are re-education and realignment of the body, and increased flexibility and strength.

You will learn what to do when a painful back episode occurs, gentle exercises to strengthen weak muscles and lengthen tight ones, and relaxation techniques: in short, life-long skills on how to manage back pain and improve your back’s health.

This holistic course is also designed to address stress-management, an increase in physical activity, and other positive outcomes such as general health and wellbeing in addition to lower back health.

Who is it for?

Anyone who suffers from chronic lower back pain – and you don’t need to wait until your next back episode recurs before starting the course. This course is beginner-friendly. The gentle, simple poses are entirely suitable for people new to yoga, and for all (adult) age groups. If in doubt, ask your GP whether the course is suitable for you.

The research

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs is one of the largest yoga research trials ever to have taken place. It was conducted by the University of York and funded by Arthritis Research UK. Results and research details of the study can be found on the website www.yogaforbacks.co.uk.

Back pain is the largest single cause of disability in the UK, with lower back pain alone accounting for 11% of the total disability of the UK, according to NHS England (2016). Back pain is also the primary cause of work absenteeism in the UK.

The Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs research results showed days off work reduced by approximately 70% over a year for participants who attended this single twelve-week course.

Yoga class format

The 12 x 75-minute class course comprises easy foundational yoga poses. Props such as blocks, belts and blankets are used to aid effectiveness and ensure absolute comfort.

You know exactly what you will get: the same yoga, taught in the same way, according to the same educational materials, as in the research itself.

Course participants will need to purchase the course book, Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs, by Alison Trewhela and Anna Semlyen (available from Amazon or www.yogaforbacks.co.uk), and a relaxation CD (available from me).

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs teacher qualifications

Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs teachers are highly experienced yoga teaching professionals, certified with either the British Wheel of Yoga or Iyengar Yoga Association (UK). So far approximately 400 teachers nationwide have completed the YHLB training programme (all taught by Alison Trewhela, who designed the yoga programme) and are qualified to teach the course. A list of certified teachers can be find online at www.yogaforbacks.co.uk.

How to book a 12-week course

To pre-register and be put on the waiting list for the next course, please contact me at yogahartley@gmail.com or on 07766 222316, stating your preference for daytime or evening classes.

Any classes you find you have to miss can be made up, free of charge, on the following course.

NB The 12-week course is usually taught in small groups of 4–12 people. However, if you prefer to be taught on a one-to-one basis, I am also available to teach private sessions in your home.


‘As I have painful osteoarthritis in the spine which in turn causes many painful muscular problems the best thing I ever did was to attend Charlie's Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs class. It has meant I can exercise and strengthen my core muscles in a gentle positive way which in turn has enabled me to enjoy everyday life. Thank you, Charlie.’

Annie Morrison, Rolvenden

‘Charlie's Yoga for Lower Backs course has helped to strengthen not only my lower back but my core, which has given greater stability to my posture overall. Also the advice on how to engage your core has been invaluable in helping to protect the lower back. I highly recommend this course to anyone with lower back problems.’

Sue Brooks, Benenden

‘Over the five years that I've been practicing yoga with Charlie I have learnt a great deal about what my body needs in order to keep it ticking over in a positive way. Charlie has a unique talent of remaining quietly constant & encouraging, not only in the physical opportunities she challenges me with, but also the spiritual side of yoga that marries mind, body & soul.

I am eternally grateful for her diligent guidance in a special lower back course she ran.
I had not realized how simple everyday things like standing & sitting correctly would impact my general wellbeing. These small adjustments in my daily routine have made a considerable difference in managing back pain issues suffered from an injury in childhood.

I highly recommend anyone to hand over the controls to an hour’s yoga practice with Charlie, best gift you can give yourself on a regular basis!’

Cath O’Reilly, The Croft @ Frogs Hole Barn, Sissinghurst

‘My 3 years of Yoga classes with Charlie Hartley have been a joy. Charlie encourages, gives sensible options on poses and uses props for the individuals’ needs. She varies the exercises to make the class more challenging and interesting, emphasising to us to work to our own capabilities, relaxing into postures, not forcing any movement. She teaches us to focus on the here and now whilst on our yoga mats and concentrate on following our breath.
After experiencing some discomfort in my lower back I did the 12 week “Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs” course with Charlie. It has taught me to really listen to my body and helps me manage any stiffness or pain with exercises to suit my needs. Charlie has shown me the importance of good posture and making time for more relaxation.’

Carol Redfern, Benenden

‘I took Charlie’s back course after a bad period with my back. The course was very gentle and well designed to ease me back into health. I have gone on using some of the exercises to keep my back supple. It has changed my life as I’m now much more supple and I’d highly recommend the course with Charlie to anyone struggling with their backs.’

Clare Winchester, artist, Benenden

‘Over time I’ve tried osteopaths, physiotherapists, chiropractors and worn back supports for a painful lower back. Since going on the Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course, I haven’t needed so much as an anti-inflammatory. It’s fantastic to have found something that really works and is enjoyable to do. Charlie is a terrific teacher and her classes are happy and fun, too.’

A Bond, Cranbrook, 2018

‘I work in Forestry, an industry where lower-back problems are endemic.

I found the course extremely helpful and supportive (no pun intended). Charlie’s teaching is excellent. She is helpful, patient, friendly and pays attention to the small details to make sure we learn correctly. I’ll miss the weekly sessions and the friendly group atmosphere.’

David Rossney, Esus Forestry-Training

‘A few weeks after finishing Charlie’s Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs course, someone said that they had seen me out walking and remarked on my amazingly improved posture. They did not know that I had been on the Lower Backs course. That is proof of Charlie’s excellent teaching and her encouragement to practise the set exercises regularly. I would recommend doing the course.’

Pat Stearns, Sissinghurst