Physiotherapist Vanessa Shribman – Footscray

My story and a degree in physiotherapy

In 2000 I suffered a serious back injury requiring surgery. I was a yoga teacher in a demanding method of yoga with a strong daily practice and suddenly I couldn’t walk without help and had experienced weeks of awful and un-mitigating pain.

Post surgery I was recommended to conventional physiotherapy which I found to be ineffective. I needed more than exercises, massage and ultrasound. Fortunately I came across the physiotherapist who has become my practitioner and my mentor over the last 19 years. He had studied hands-on methods in the USA founded by various osteopaths and used them with great success. I believe that his treatment and returning to my yoga practice allowed me to recover completely and lead a normal, pain free life. I was inspired by him to undertake a degree in physiotherapy and then to follow a similar path in treatment methods.

About Melbourne Holistic Physiotherapy Melbourne vanessa

A Physiotherapist’s Profound Understanding of Anatomy, Physiology, and Pathology

These methods teach the practitioner to trust what they feel with their hands. They combine the profound learning of anatomy, physiology and pathology and the age old skill of listening to the body with the hands which has been lost in current, conventional musculoskeletal training. These methods recognise the body as a complex organism which has an innate ability to heal. Sometimes it needs a gentle nudge to do so. They also understand that the body is a holistic mechanism and at times, although pain maybe in a particular location, the cause maybe elsewhere.

My journey with holistic physiotherapy and yoga

A life changing injury

I was badly injured in 1999. I was a strong yoga practitioner, yoga teacher and yoga centre owner and suddenly I couldn’t move! It was such a challenge to the image I had of myself. I also had three small children so the pressures of functioning as a mother, business owner and yogi were intense.

Mistaken diagnosis

As a yoga practitioner of 11 years, I interpreted my symptoms as a disc prolapse and attempted to heal myself accordingly. But over 12 months the pain and episodes of back spasm worsened. In early 2000 I was bedridden with pain and creeping paralysis in my legs. Fortunately, we had a wonderful family Doctor who visited and persuaded my partner that I needed an MRI. Within a few hours a torn disc had been diagnosed which was pressing on the spinal cord causing the leg weakness.

Vanessa Melbourne Yoga Classes

Back Surgery and rehabilitation

Within 12 hours I had back surgery, removing the disc. The surgeon, eminent in orthopaedics in Adelaide warned that post surgery I may not recover the full use of my legs. It was a very frightening time. Post-surgery I walked with the aid of a frame for several weeks and then I returned to my mat as soon as I could. In addition, I followed an intense rehabilitation program at the Gym. But very soon after the surgery a different pain took hold. It felt as though my spinal cord was on fire.

Back Pain

This was diagnosed as arachniditis, chronic inflammation of the spinal cord, a rare complication post back surgery. I researched the condition and there was no known cure.  According to the internet searches it was bound to be chronic and restrictive. However, I determined to find my own journey of healing even if conventional medicine could not offer a cure.

Finding a Skilled Physiotherapist and Yoga for Rehabilitation

I started on a journey of finding an excellent group of practitioners who could support me. I found an incredible holistic physiotherapist who helped to mitigate many of the symptoms, I practiced a modified yoga program, and I deepened my meditation practice to help me deal with the emotional fallout.

Depression accompanies chronic pain

It is fundamentally life changing to be in constant pain especially when you have been physically strong, able and very active and one of the greatest challenges is to cope with the mind and avoid depression. Even though I returned to teaching and running my school I was still often in pain and limited in my yoga practice.

In 2010 I encountered a knowledgeable and generous naturopath who recommended Low Level Laser for my condition. By this time, I had seen tens of practitioners spending thousands of dollars so initially I was resistant. He offered the therapy for free! Low level cold laser completely healed the condition.

Reclaiming my life and the essence of healing

 I was able to return to a strong yoga practice and pass gruelling assessments to become a senior Iyengar yoga teacher and to complete a degree in physiotherapy in 2014. There were two essentials that supported me on my journey. The first was my own determination to forge a path of healing and to find practitioners who could support me. My Holistic Physiotherapist practiced visceral and cranio sacral techniques as well as other holistic hands-on methods to help me function. He encouraged me to study physiotherapy and to follow a similar path and remains my mentor.

Having Hope

He was always optimistic about my condition and that I would recover. This was so important to surviving this challenging time. Yoga for me was also my lifeline. Yoga practice is a way of life for me, a framework for my day. A place to get out of my head and into the present moment even if my physical body is limited. Iyengar Yoga lends itself to modifying poses for injury and pain, so I became an expert at adjusting my practice for whatever I was feeling on the day.


My journey motivated me to offer these therapies to others in pain or with chronic conditions and since I have qualified as a physiotherapist, I attend many courses in Visceral work and other modalities so that I can offer effective treatment for those like me, looking for an individual path to heal.

Iyengar yoga teacher Vanessa Shribman

Vanessa Shribman is an Iyengar yoga teacher of 34 years experience teaching Beginner’s yoga, Intermediate yoga and Advanced yoga in West Footscray, Melbourne. She is also a childbirth educator and teaches pregnancy yoga and birth skills. She is also a holistic physiotherapist. She came across Iyengar Yoga in 1987 in India and over the years has worked with senior teachers from all over the world including BKS Iyengar and other members of his family.

What is Iyengar Yoga?

Iyengar Yoga is an authentic, dynamic method of yoga based on the teachings of BKS Iyengar who died in 2014. It strengthens and stretches the body.

Each class is different. Classes are dynamic and exciting. There is a relaxation at the end of each class.

Your teacher will show you the correct alignment in each pose so that you are learning correctly

Poses are modified for you if you have an injury or medical condition.

Students progress methodically with strength and flexibility to master more challenging poses

Iyengar yoga is a practice accessible to all ages

Vanessa opened the Coast Yoga Centre in Glenelg, South Australia in 1994 and has directed it since.  In 2019 she relocated to Melbourne to be closer to her 3 children.
She now teaches in Melbourne At the Body Voice Centre in Footscray.

Yoga Classes

The Body Voice Centre, 50 Wolverhampton St, Footscray 3012

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Holistic Package

Vanessa combines her physiotherapy understanding and practice with her knowledge of  yoga to help students who have had long standing pain to get back into moving safely. She works gradually with hands on holistic physiotherapy techniques and yoga to bring about profound and lasting change in the body and mind. Neuroscience tells us that chronic pain, felt in the body, takes root in the connections in the brain. The main way to resolve the pain is to exercise. In order to resolve the pain we must start to move again and reprogram those connections that tell us that the body is in pain, to feel pain free. The more ways in which we move the better. Yoga is a perfect medium for this. It can be slow and cautious but it introduces movement in many different ways and can be graduated to suit the individual.

Vanessa will set up an individual program for you that you can practice at home. She will revisit this with you each week or two.

Holistic Package Booking

Book by emailing Vanessa directly on

Combining yoga and birth knowledge

Vanessa has also developed pregnancy yoga and birthing skills classes combining yoga and birth knowledge. She trained as a childbirth educator and has taught Prenatal Yoga and Couples Birth Workshops for the last 30 years. Her focus is on keeping birth as normal as possible and finding confidence in your own resources for birth. Classes focusing on natural pain techniques and confidence for birth greatly reduces intervention rates, cesareans, perineal trauma and birth trauma.

Some of the clients Vanessa has helped with her treatment methods

D had a serious car accident and went from being an elite athlete to being in constant pain and not being able to exercise. She had seen many conventional physiotherapists and was still in pain. She attended Melbourne Holistic Physiotherapy and has returned to her sporting activities.

B loves to play tennis in his spare time. He started to have severe rib pain after matches. Work on the ribs and upper back released the pain and advice to built up the upper back helped to prevent reoccurrence.

E was only 17 and had constant neck and upper back pain from studying. This contributed to headaches. Through the visceral techniques I discovered that she was gluten intolerant and when she removed gluten her headaches improved.

J was in a serious car accident. This was exacerbated by a brush with MS symptoms and scoliosis. Holistic physiotherapy keeps him functional and pain free.

Email Melbourne Holistic Physiotherapy

Contact Info for Yoga

The Body Voice Centre, 50 Wolverhampton St, Footscray 3012



Physiotherapy Bookings in West Footscray

Vanessa works on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at her home clinic in West Footscray. You can book a physio appointment online by clicking on the link below or by calling 0423912452.

Please allow 60 minutes for your first appointment and come suitably dressed. Please check the FAQs for more information about your appointment or email me.

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