Medical Minimalism Using Yoga (Part Two)
In Part One of this blog post, I shared my story of the “aha” moment that led me to use yoga as medicine.
The benefits of yoga as a proven medical therapy are numerous and growing. Yoga is my minimalist medicine. I have been using it on myself and my patients for the better part of 15 years, all the while reducing medical bills, medications taken, and improving patients’ overall health and wellbeing.
Affecting everything from vagal tone to rotator cuff integrity to digestive health, here are some of the reasons I (continue to) use yoga as my primary method of delivering physical therapy:
1. Yoga is organic.
Yoga requires little equipment and can be done anywhere. It teaches non-violence and compassionate care for the planet and yourself. You can even buy eco-friendly yoga mats. Even better, a mat isn’t required to do yoga. You can practice yoga without a mat.
2. Yoga is inexpensive.
Using yoga in a medical practice harnesses fantastic potential to lower health care costs, decrease use of pharmaceuticals, prevent practitioner burnout (more physicians commit suicide than any other profession in the US today), and lower the overhead costs of running a clinical practice.
Yoga has saved my life multiple times. Peacefully pursuing work/life balance seems like a mystery for many, but yoga puts a healthy lifestyle within reach, and at a very affordable cost.
Yoga is inexpensive for clinicians and their patients. You can even likely find random items around your house to help you do yoga like The Yoga Couch.
3. Yoga simplifies your wellness regime.
It simplifies your fitness and well-being regime by allowing you to skip the gym (and the costly membership fees), and its dreaded “fight or flight” inducing treadmills, as well costly home equipment and membership dues.
Yoga has reduced my exercise requirement by at about 75%. I spend a fraction of the time “exercising” and am in better shape than ever.
I even tracked my own progress over a 20 year period. The first 10 years I kept a weekly mileage log, hit the gym, and did yoga, all on a daily basis. The second 10 years I just practiced yoga and what I call “functional exercise” like biking to the post office or playing with my children.
Keep in mind that even with 10 more years on my aging body, the first ten years brought constant injuries like Achilles tendonitis, chronic knee pain, and chronic back and spine problems. The point is, you can recalibrate yoga (or any movement/fitness routine) to fit you. Yoga can simplify your “fitness” routine.
4. Yoga, when supported by science (and sometimes even when it isn’t), can be safe and effective for getting fit, preventing, and healing from, injury, whether physical or emotional.
When delivered by medical professionals, like physical therapists for example, yoga becomes medicine. But that is not all; yoga can be medicine for your whole being.
Yoga is energetic, spiritual, emotional, psychological, and intellectual, in addition to physical, medicine.
The medical model works with, not against, our current medical system and allows patients and students from the community to work individually or side by side toward healing and high level athletic function, all at a low cost in a safe, medically sound environment. Many therapists and physicians throughout the country are now using a similar model.
As a result, I have consistently high satisfaction rates and outcomes from patients and students. I always tell my patients and students, be patient, yoga takes a lifetime to learn. The good news is – you’ll never get bored!
Yoga can be used to put the “care” back into health care, and when it is, it becomes the ultimate in minimalist medicine.
Don’t forget to pay a visit to your local, friendly health care provider
who uses yoga as medicine.
- Find A Therapist in your area here. The list isn’t all inclusive for North America, but our grassroots effort is doing its best to teach licensed health care providers how to safely utilize yoga in rehabilitation and wellness medicine.
- Other medical professionals who use yoga as medicine, as well as non-medical yoga professionals, can be found at www.iayt.org