Truro, Cornwall, UK

Alison Trewhela in Tadasana yoga pose Sarvangasana yoga painting by Perran Trewhela

    -       Experience of teaching yoga since 1983 - started whilst living in the Bahamas. Visited USA for Iyengar Yoga workshops and after a workshop with Manouso Manos in Atlanta in 1985 was determined to follow the Iyengar method

    -       Trained in the Iyengar method of yoga in Cornwall and subsequently qualified to Intermediate level (Jun.I, II and III 1993-1997 - trained with Richard Agar Ward) under the IYA(UK) (Iyengar Yoga Association UK)

    -    Certified under IYA(UK) certification mark scheme

    -    Studied with Sri BKS Iyengar (Guruji) at the London Bhavan,

    London Crystal Palace and Pune and also with Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar (Geetaji) in London Crystal Palace, Pune and London Billingsgate 2009

    -       Always endeavoured to attend classes, workshops and conventions with Iyengar Yoga teachers closest to the source, e.g. Sri Yogacharya BKS Iyengar, Dr. Geeta Iyengar, Ali Dashti, Birjoo Mehta, Rajvi Mehta, Jawahar Bangera, Rajiv Chanchani, Manouso Manos, Faeq Biria, Corine Biria, Stephanie Quirk, Annie Ciekanski, Pixie Lillas, Jeanne Maslen, Margaret & Gordon Austin, Lillian Biggs, Maxine Tobias, Pen Reed, Dorothy Robinson, Lorna Walker, Penny Chaplin, Genie Hammond, Silvia Prescott, Silva Mehta, Josette Ridley, Gerry Chambers, Linda Purvis, Judi Sweeting, Tig Whattler, Richard Agar Ward, Kirsten Agar Ward, Frances Homewood, Judi Soffa, Marion Kilburn, Tricia Booth, Mira Mehta, Sasha Perryman, Cathy Rogers, Martine le Chenic, Elizabeth Connelly, Shandor Remete. Many thanks to all these teachers mentioned above, and to many others.

    -       Have done teaching cover for some of Ali Dashti’s classes in Bern, Switzlerland

    -       Have been involved with training Iyengar Yoga teachers at Introductory I and II and also at Intermediate Junior I, II and III levels

    -       Strong participator in further training and professional development opportunities in Iyengar Yoga and Therapy via workshops, professional development days and conventions (often attending100-180 hours per year training/workshops/conventions, when the CPD requirement is 25 hours). Completed Stephanie Quirk’s 6 Remedial/Therapy Yoga Intensives


    -       Involved with SWIYI (South West Iyengar Yoga Institute = a group of Iyengar Yoga practitioners including 30+ teachers in Cornwall and Devon, by helping with secretarial, administrative, newspaper articles and workshop write-ups for teachers since 1987. As Chairperson of SWIYI since 1998, led the team who co-ordinate and arrange local opportunities for visiting yoga teachers, professional development days, etc. (approx. 6-10 events per year), develop and update our website, aim to keep Iyengar Yoga education, PR profile and standards high, devise and distribute SWIYI News and events fliers. Became Treasurer of SWIYI from 2007, then a Committee member from 2009-11 and still help to arrange the visiting teachers’ programme 

    -       Organised a national Iyengar Yoga convention for 200+ participants in Falmouth in 2001, (LOYA 2001), and have been involved with helping in the running of other national conventions (LOYA in York and Dr. Geeta S. Iyengar’s visit to Crystal Palace) and yoga events (class assistant in Birjoo Mehta weekend event in Liverpool)

    -       Secretary on national Iyengar Yoga executive committee LOYA 1999-2001 and was part of the process of merging two national organisations into one (LOYA & BKSIYTA became IYAUK)

    -       Represented IYA(UK) on University of York, Department of Health Sciences, York Trials Unit research team


    -       Since 1983. 2 classes weekly to start with and built up to 10-14 per term-time week.

         -     Regular yoga classes for Truro, St. Austell and Falmouth Adult

              Education Centres (approx. 1989-2000 – privately thereafter)

    -       Yoga Days at Centres and Institutes in other parts of the UK and abroad by invitation

       -     Occasional yoga classes for children. Also Family Yoga Days.

         -     Regular yoga classes for Truro College ‘A’-level students (16-18

    yr-olds) for approx. 10 years                    

    -   Annual 3-Day Yoga Summer School and other yoga

        workshops throughout the year for students and teachers

    -   Took a group of 16 yoga students to Costa Rica for a Yoga Retreat in        

         April 2006 where I taught 2 classes a day for a week.

    -       Helped at the architectural and developer initial planning stages of the yoga and fitness space at the eco-building The ZedShed, Jubilee Wharf in Penryn, Cornwall where I love teaching

    -       Sessions of Yoga – ‘Flexible and Focussed’ for the first Cornwall Club and Coach Conference (Cornwall Sports Partnership for Sport England) in April 2009


    -       In 1993 trained with The Yoga Biomedical Trust in London in ‘Yoga Therapy for Low Back Pain’ as a Specialist. Tutors were Dr. Dongaonkar, Dr. Robin Monro and Dr. Ruth Gilmore. Since that time taught GP-referred/self-referred patients on 7-week ‘Better Back Courses’ (developed for patients suffering from a wide range of back conditions from simple muscular or postural strain to ME-related back pain to radicular pain from hernatied/prolapsed discs to spondylolisthesis to rehabilitation after back surgery).

    -       Senior Practitioner - Yoga on the BRCP (British Register for Complementary Practitioners) and the ICNM (Institute for Complementary and Natural Medicine). Membership from approx. 1994

    -       Accepted to train on new Iyengar Yoga Therapy intensive course for experienced teachers 2006-2009 (6 levels of 4 full days each) taught by Stephanie Quirk from RIMYI Pune)

    -       Work at Walsingham Clinic (Centre for Complementary Medicine/Natural Health in Truro) assessing patients’ lower backs, carrying out yoga consultations and teaching individual yoga sessions for specific conditions (GP-, yoga teacher-, health professional- or self-referred) 

    -       Teach small specialised yoga therapy group classes (for students and teachers) for conditions such as anxiety, knee/shoulder/hip problems, women’s problems (menopausal, menstrual and gynaecological), diabetes, high blood pressure, fatigue, mental health, etc.

    -       Taught specialist weekly yoga class for ‘Mature’ students (70-90 yr-olds) with problems such as strokes, artificial hips, heart attacks, Parkinsons disease, osteo-arthritis, anxiety, depression, ME, colitis, glaucoma, diabetes, high blood pressure, + + (1994-2010).

    -       Trained in and taught Post-Natal Exercise and Discussion classes by and for The National Childbirth Trust (approx. 1989-1998)

    - Associate Professional Member of BackCare UK


  • - Collaborates with NHS health professionals re spinal pathway design (inclusion of yoga)

  • - Leads national and local Steering Groups that help educate about evidence-based yoga

    - Signposting from GPs, Pain Clinic consultants, physiotherapists, CAM health professionals since 1992 and ongoing

  • - Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Courses taught alongside GP care for patients in Cornwall in 2007-8 for University of York / Arthritis Research UK randomised controlled trial

  • - GP Surgery Part-funded Teaching of Evidence-based, mind-body, long-term self-management back-care programme (Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs 12-week courses). 2017 onwards

  • -'Social Prescribing' project work regarding the 'Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs' course
  • - Leads a County YHLB Steering Group negotiating with NHS professionals, back pain care pathway leads and commissioners regarding taking yoga into mainstream healthcare and adult social care

- Leads a SW Team providing yoga for back-care.

- Collaborating with Arthritis Research UK regarding uptake of the evidence-based yoga programme into mainstream care in the UK

- Stakeholder involvement in NICE Low Back Pain guidelines

- Guest Blog for ARMA

- Public Health England lists Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs programme in its 2017 PHE MSK ROI report and tool showing this specific programme would offer good return on investment

- Professional Advisor for Arthritis Research UK on yoga and low back pain



    -       Lead yoga teacher/therapist consultant from the planning to conclusion stages on a research team headed by The University of York’s Professor David Torgerson of the York Trials Unit carrying out clinical trials into the effectiveness of yoga as a treatment for low back pain (2006-‘10). Funded by Arthritis Research Campaign (now Arthritis Research UK). This trial had the support and involvement of IYA(UK) and BWY.

    -       Employed by The University of York to devise the yoga sequences, yoga programme and 12-week course class plans, write trial students’ and teachers’ manuals and train and support the 20 teachers involved in the Trial.

    -       Taught ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ 12-week course twice in 2007 and ’08 as part of the yoga intervention, mentored trial yoga teachers, taught trial ‘control’ classes.

    -       Attended and participated as yoga consultant in regular Trial Steering and also Independent Trial Steering Committee meetings.


    -       PUBLISHED PAPERS Author on published research papers:

    1. A pilot trial paper (2006) was published in ‘CTCP’ journal.

    2. Trial protocol paper was published in ‘CTCP’ journal in 2011.

    3. The full efficacy results, showing the yoga programme to be safe and effective, were published in a top peer-reviewed journal, ‘Annals of Internal Medicine’, on Nov 1st 2011 4.

    4.  The cost-effectiveness results were published in ‘Spine’ journal on Aug 15th 2012, showing the yoga programme would be ‘likely to be cost-effective in an NHS setting’ and that over the 12 months studied those in the yoga group had an average of 3.83 days off work compared to 12.29 in the non-yoga group.

    5.  Analysis of various protocols re compliance and effectiveness findings were published in 'Physiotherapy' journal on 14th February 2014.

    6.  International Journal of Yoga Therapy A review of Iyengar Yoga for chronic back and neck pain - 2015

    BOOK CHAPTER Wrote a chapter entitled 'Yoga: A Review of the Research'  in 'Methodologies for Effectively Assessing Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)' - published 2015

    -       BOOK AND CD. Co-wrote and edited the published book ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ featuring the yoga programme I designed for the research and recorded the accompanying 4-track Relaxations Audio Track Album for use on the trial.

    -       SOCIAL ENTERPRISE. Set up Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs (and to educate about and promote the yoga used in the University of York/Arthritis Research UK research. Currently working on multiple associated projects.


    -       TRAINING TEACHERS. Training new experienced and already-trained yoga teachers in how to deliver the ‘Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs’ programme in the same way as in the RCT. Aiming to make the yoga programme ‘sustainable’ in order for it to be of benefit to more people.  Alison is the Tutor of the Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs Teacher Training Course(a Recognized Centre of Excellence in Training and Standards - BWY) set up to educate, train, support and mentor teachers.

    -       Helping yoga trial team at York Trials Unit to prepare bids for grant proposals for further research studies into Yoga for Osteoarthritis, Mild to Moderate Depression (and possibly Anxiety, Diabetes)

    - Presents yoga at national exhibitions, conferences, and events

     - Sits on a national panel for yoga research

  • - Representative on British Council for Yoga Therapy 

    - Advises on yoga research

    - Took part in published international Delphi project about how future yoga research might best be conducted

    - Many articles written in journals and magazines about yoga research, e.g. Iyengar News, BWY Spectrum, Arthritis Today, Arthritis Digest, Yoga, Om, BackcareUK's Talkback, Natural Health, SW Social Prescribing Network news and more


    -       Led an annual Special Study Unit (SSU) entitled ‘A Trio of Complementary Therapies – to Include Yoga’ for 3rd Year medical students at the Peninsula Medical School in Truro (since 2004).

    -       From 2009, lead an SSU entitled ‘Yoga for Holistic Health’ for the newly-named Peninsula College for Medicine and Dentistry. The students shadow and participate in yoga classes in order to observe people working to promote their own physical and mental health within a community environment, as well as studying yoga research.

    -       Lead a new Research in Action SSU for the Peninsula College of Medicine and Dentistry for 4th Year medical students entitled ‘Yoga Research Taken to a New Level’ from 2009. Students follow past, present and future developments of yoga trials, with a special focus on the Yoga for Low Back Pain trial

    - From September 2014 led SSUs as above for University of Exeter Medical School 3rd and 4th Year Students as Visiting Specialist Tutor in Yoga and Yoga Research

    -       Interested in helping with the efficient integration of evidence-based yoga into the NHS. Links with Health & Wellbeing Innovation Centre in Truro.



    Alison continues to train, educate and support 'Yoga for Healthy Lower Backs' multiple projects.




    Winner of the ICNM (regulator of the British Register of Complementary Practitioners)

    'Most Outstanding Contribution to Complementary Medicine' 2013. 

    "ICNM Award – Most Outstanding Contribution to Complementary Medicine - 2013

    Since 2005 Alison has worked tirelessly and passionately to raise the profile and credibility of yoga as a treatment modality through research.

    Alison was the lead yoga consultant on the management team for the largest and most significant yoga trial to date. With her extensive experience of teaching specialist yoga for those with low back pain and medical school students about the therapeutic applications of yoga, she designed the ‘YHLB’ programme and the trial’s educational materials. The University of York led the ‘gold standard’ RCT, funded by Arthritis Research UK. As one of the most robust pieces of CAM research studying a condition that affects approximately 80% of the population, the 2011 results published in one of the top peer-reviewed international journals, received worldwide interest and acclaim.

    Maximizing this unique opportunity, with an ethos of generosity and an understanding of the important value of the evidence base, she has set up a social enterprise dedicated to sharing the yoga. As the original trial’s trainer, she has committed herself to training and mentoring more teachers (200+). Development continues following the economics paper, showing that yoga would be cost-effective if offered in an NHS setting, including Council/CCG negotiations, conferences, exhibitions, teaching-team set-up."

                               "Nominations for this award are from anywhere within the medical or complementary medicine sector, or the general public. The nominees are individuals or groups who stand out from the crowed because of their work or contribution they have made to Complementary Medicine."

             SECOND AWARD

  • 'Outstanding Achievement' for decades of service to yoga. March 2018

  • British Wheel of Yoga (national yoga governing body for Sport England and Sports & Recreation Alliance)                  

My Yoga Story

I have been practising yoga since 1979 at the age of 20. Initially after reading BKS Iyengar’s Light on Yoga from my mother’s bookshelf and also after having borrowed it from the library, I was unsure whether I could ever ‘be good at it’. Of course, this was the thought of a naïve novice and I soon discovered, when I decided to try a free class at the University where I was working, that exactly because I was stiff in shoulders and hips, immobile in most of my spinal segments and generally unrelaxed in nature, that that was why I would get hooked forever on something that was to become a very good habit – my yoga practice. Having taken part in numerous sports and physical exercise, such as tennis, badminton, squash, windsurfing, swimming, cycling, netball, dance, horse-riding, I initially found the yoga very taxing but informative. Unable to reach below my knees in Uttanasana, finding it impossible to reach on either side in Gomukhasana arms and severely restricted in simple seated poses, such as Sukkhasana and even Adho Mukha Virasana, I felt compelled to continue after discovering improvements after only 10 classes and finding that my face wanted to smile much more for the 2 days after each class. Putting on my socks became an easy task and it seemed that my back was not destined to feel like a steel rod forever! After a fairly short interval I felt that I wanted to share this amazing subject with others and enquired about teacher training. My first yoga teacher, who I quickly went to twice a week, was a British Wheel of Yoga teacher who told me that ‘Light on Yoga’ was her ‘bible’. After moving to the Bahamas to live for 3 years and after being unsuccessful in tracking down any yoga teacher who was willing to teach there, I was persuaded by friends to set up a ‘yoga practice group’. There was soon an evening group for the husbands (including mine) and my challenge as a yoga teacher had begun. Feeling the responsibility of this, I travelled to many teachers’ classes in the USA and also throughout Cornwall and studied much in books, magazines and within my body. When my daughter was born, she would crawl around in the day class until Savasana, when she would angelically go to sleep. I also invited several yoga teachers to teach my students in The Bahamas and was asked to teach groups at the local YMCA. It was in 1985, after attending a long intensive weekend with Manouso Manos in Atlanta, Georgia, that I decided that I had found the type of yoga that I would forever wish to practise – Iyengar Yoga it had to be from now on.

On my return to the UK in 1986 after 3+ years living and teaching yoga in The Bahamas, I found Iyengar Yoga classes to attend and regular Iyengar Yoga workshops with visiting teachers in Cornwall and was soon on an Iyengar Yoga Teacher Training course. My yoga teaching continued, as my Cornish family and friends wanted to learn and eventually, after having my 2 sons, I was delighted to be qualified in the Iyengar method of teaching yoga. In the early days, I did try a few other types, styles and methods of yoga, including Ashtanga and Desikachar, in order to gain understanding of what these were, but always these early deviations reinforced my belief that Iyengar Yoga gave a wonderful all-round foundation and understanding of the essence of effective and inspirational yoga.

I believe that yoga teaching should always be fresh, exciting, creative and ever-evolving and that I as a teacher should always be able to convey my passion for yoga to the students.

Alison Trewhela


site by Nick Long of Somerset Yoga