Yoga therapy differs from what most Westerners have experienced as yoga classes. Yoga therapy is yoga with healing at its focus. With its roots dating back thousands of years, yoga therapy is now finding its way as a primary vehicle for optimal wellness for individuals and has become an adjunct to modern medicine. But, a big gap exists in the health care field – a physician’s ability to refer patients to yoga and yoga therapy.
Yoga Therapy uses the postures of yoga along with breathing exercises, meditation, life-style management, and many other tools in a targeted manner, customized to each patient. When practiced correctly for the condition, yoga can have tremendous effects on a patient’s overall wellness. But, understanding the value of referring a patient to yoga therapy versus general yoga is as important as choosing between two pharmaceutical drugs. Today most doctors are not equipped with the necessary background or knowledge to know the difference between the growing plethora of yoga practices offered in the marketplace.
Should physicians know how to refer the right yoga to the right patient for the right condition? Well consider this. I sat across from a neurological doctor on a flight from Denver to Hawaii and found out that he worked in my neighborhood at a prominent healthcare facility. After some polite and friendly conversation, I asked him if he referred his patients to yoga. “Oh yes, I think yoga is good for everyone,” he quipped. I then asked him what type of yoga he recommends his patients experience? He looked at me perplexed and not sure if this was a trick question or not, then simply replied, “you know the one down the street.” I shared with him that the one down the street was contraindicated for most of his patients, did he know that? His interest peaked and we delved into a deeper discussion on the difference between styles, a yoga instructor versus a certified yoga therapist and the benefits of referring patients. All of this left me wondering, how do we educate our physicians to refer yoga or yoga therapy? In general, one style of yoga is not better or worse than the other, but when it relates to a healthcare condition, it could be contraindicated and cause the patient to suffer because of an uninformed choice. What about your own physician, do they know what Yoga Therapy RX to write for you?
Nancy Levenson, founder of NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness, LLC in Highlands Ranch is an advocate for helping physicians understand how to prescribe yoga to patients. If you are interested in having her visit your office and provide your team with more knowledge of this growing field, she can be reached at 303.725.1434.
Nancy carries a Professional Yoga Therapist certification, is an experienced registered Yoga Alliance instructor and a member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. Nancy has worked one-on-one with hundreds of clients, sometimes partnering with their physicians to guide optimal health. She specializes in nervous system, respiratory and digestive disorders, anxiety, stress, and depression management. She is also the Program Director for Integrative Yoga Therapy’s foundational training program, training students every year from the yoga, medical and other healing professions on the value of yoga as a healing art and therapeutic yoga. You can learn more about her and her practice at http://www.namasteworksyoga.com