A new client arrived in my studio, admittedly desperate and practically in tears. Two Thanksgivings ago she had taken a long afternoon hike afternoon, then woke up the next morning in pain. Her doctor told her not to exercise until he figured out what was wrong. A year and a half later he diagnosed her with arthritis all over her body. Despite injections and medications, she felt worse every day—everything hurt. Her pain and anxiety about her pain fed each other like a bonfire.

Our first session was spent on the basics—breath, compression, movement. Turn on the proprioceptors, turn off the nociceptors. I sent her home with what I call the “Spa Package” (the Full Body Therapy Ball Kit and Relaxation CD: Breathe In – Bliss Out) and some ab-baby homework.

She arrived for our next appointment beaming. She said she hadn’t felt this good in a year and a half. She had even used her breath to control pain during a dentist appointment!

This woman is changing her own environment for herself—cooling her pain on a global level one breath at a time.

Learn about our Therapy Balls Program for pain relief.

Read about deprogramming chronic pain.

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Christine Jablonski

I believe most people who end up in the fitness profession are trying to heal themselves. Fifteen years ago I sought out SPIN to rehabilitate a full knee reconstruction. Ten years ago I started Pilates to help me recover from a horseback riding accident. More recently, as still-young age and old injuries caught up with me, I began a restorative and Kripalu yoga practice. In every instance, with every discipline, I've experienced a moment of “ahhh....I want to make everyone feel this good.” And so began my path toward fitness studio ownership where I could keep my classes small and focused on my client's journeys from injury, through healing, and on to strength. In addition to figuring out how my clients and I could feel even better (as well as look better in our jeans), curiosity about human biomechanics led me to study with Helena Collins of Life in Synergy, Sadie Nardini of Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga, and of course, Jill Miller. Combing the knowledge from these tremendous teachers with my strong Pilates background has enabled me to create exceptionally effective programs for my clients, who range from joint replacement patients needing post-physical therapy help to the “uninjured” wanting stronger, better aligned bodies so they can experience life to the fullest.

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Chloe Whitfield

Thank you so much Christine! Many of my students have arthritis (rheumatoid, osteo and fibromyalgia) and now I have another tool to help them relieve their pain and help them live their lives to the fullest!

jackie leduc

It is amazing how the power of breath can help reprogram the pain cycle and allow the body to actually heal rather than stay in the constant state on pain


The power of the breath is remarkable. After an injury, so many people get stuck in the cycle of pain and shallow breathing. Re-educating on use of the diaphragm can help make a dramatic difference and start someone on the road to healing. Thank you for this post.

rie katagiri

Sometimes a person in chronic pain just needs to be reminded that their health is their birth right. Fear and frustration makes the pain worse. Doctors are often not trained to see their patients as a person with a lot of feelings that are interconnected with their symptoms. This is why yoga instructors, bodyworkers and compassionate body/mind specialists are helping so many people. I’m so grateful to be a part of such a community; gratitude to Jill. Thank you for posting this!

Jennie Cohen

So the client was able to use pain as a vehicle for nonreactive (or less reactive) observation. It’s so notable that developing this skill sometimes requires extreme sensation–like pain. It’s so much harder to unresponsively witness less “exciting” events, like breathing.


Why aren’t clients trained to refer out? was one of the questions above.I have thought the same thing many times as a simple solution is usually at hand for many people. Many times yoga will help or oftimes an osteopathic treatment or even a really effective massage and a change of diet and most importantly a change of mind.


Awesome! What is an Ab-baby? I have not heard of that term? I am excited to learn more about these nociceptors. I like your point Amalea about how some things are not “medical”. I think this is very true! Doctors are not trained or oriented towards knowing how to tune up a tadasana or any person in pain standing…they have medicine. Medicine is brilliant, but it is not the cure all, especially for pain such as most of our clients. There is a lot to be gained and offered with YTU and the new therapeutic modalities that are emerging. We… Read more »

Ben L

We all have the power within us, my YTU teacher training taught me that I need to take responsibility for my own body 24 hours a day with ever move I make I have the choice for it to be a healthy movement or a on unhealthy one and as we know the unhealthy movement begin to add up to some pretty big deficits and pain.


I leant how to calm and patient to myself through yoga and connect my mind and body.
Medication or surgery might help temporary but problem will come back if you don’t address the original cause. You need to know your body, what’s causing the problem?? I’m gland your client find the way to connect her body.


There are things modern medicine can treat and some things not. Bad posture is not a medical condition but it can wreck your body. I work a desk job and used to have horrible pain and stiffness in my neck. By working on posture and taking care of my muscles through YTU, the pain is rarely recurring and easily be managed by tuning up.

Heather Lindsay

My husband and I are Massage Therapists and focus on trigger point therapy. I also teach the YTU Therapy Ball goodness. We are frustrated a few times a week to meet new clients who sometimes have had pain for 20 years that doctors can’t seem to fix. Often one session on the table or in a class is all that was needed to set the person right. They of course are given self-care homework to continue the healing. Why aren’t doctors trained to spot something that is often a simple knot in a muscle?! Or if not trained, know to… Read more »

Anna-Marie Lawrence

I’ve noticed myself in the past few months that more and more yoga studios are offering some sort of therapeutic Yoga class on their schedules. I too have been trying to heal myself for the last 2 years. I think I spent the first 6 months feeling overwhelmed, trying to make sense out of something that made no sense( Food intolerances brought on by autoimmune disease and hormonal imbalances ) and then the following year trying to fix myself, Unfortunately, there aren’t any magic pills that make something like this disappear. At present I am just trying to manage the… Read more »


I’d love to hear how this client’s pain is now a few months after this post. It’s not uncommon to see “miraculous” results early on when we finally start to DO something about pain and suffering (versus wallowing). And the profound power of a variety pranayama (breathwork) techniques coupled with proper instruction of myofascial self-massage (achievable with Yoga Tune Up Therapy Balls) is undoubtable. I myself am working through tightness in my Iliotibial bands and Gluteal muscles due to traumatic injury. I make exponential leaps in their healing and improvement of elasticity when I am able to keep up regular… Read more »

Yes, It IS All in Your Client’s Head: Deprogramming Chronic Pain Messages | Yoga Tune Up

[…] How is your pain trending? – Read the post. […]


It would be wonderful if we could help more people this way!

annelie alexander

the title of this post made me curious. loved the “nociceptors”, it’s so easy to tune them in when your body is not behaving like you want it to. remembering to feel your breath is such a great tool in those situations and i am so greatful that yoga opened my eyes to different forms of breathing.

Andrew Hoffman

A simple but effective story. It really is amazing how doctors are so eager to diagnose so quickly and basically force-feed prescription drugs. I really think that sometimes, natural healing can be way more effective than taking a drug and this article proves my point.