Yoga was a hot topic at the 7th annual Integrative Healthcare Symposium. From yoga in the military to a planned teacher training in Haiti to an explosion of web applications for medical professionals to introduce yoga to patients, the practice is reaching deep into America's most venerable institutions and professions.
"It's phenomenal how rapidly yoga has spread into acceptance in mainstream health care," said presenter John Weeks, editor of the Integrator Blog and executive director of the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care.
Some of the highlights:
• A more holistic paradigm for overall military fitness has been called for by the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. One possible model is The Wellness Inventory, which was featured as an exemplary assessment in a report commissioned by Mullen, and provides a holistic overview of a patient's needs for purposes of customizing wellness plans. Things like movement, breathing, feelings, and the ability to transcend situations are among the considerations measured by the inventory. "It's all yoga-the original system of holistic health," says Jim Strohecker, co-creator of the web-based inventory and a lifelong yogi and one-time student of Swami Muktananda.
• The Center for Mind-Body Medicine, in Washington, DC, has trained "120 doctors, nurses, priests, and voodoo healers," in Haiti following the devastating 7.0 earthquake there in January 2010, in practices such as guided imagery and yogic movement and breathing, said center founder and longtime yoga practitioner, James Gordon, MD. The center is working on a plan to also offer yoga teacher training there.
• Yoga is finding it's way into medical practices through a number of other web-based applications, such as LiivMD, which employs video instruction from well-known yogi and mindfulness figures such as John Friend and Joan Borysenko to guide patients through poses and concepts.
Yoga may play an even larger role at next year's symposium, with a planned presentation about the benefits of the practice in therapeutic settings. Dr. Woodson Merrell, the M. Anthony Fisher director of Integrative Medicine, Continuum Center of Health and Healing in New York City, and chairman of the symposium, said integrative providers "feel like yoga is a foundation for accessing inner wisdom and healing capabilities. It's fundamental."
By Nancy O'Brien