Why More Western Doctors Are Now Prescribing Yoga Therapy
SUSAN ENFIELDFEB 3, 2016
With a growing body of research proving yoga’s healing benefits, it’s no wonder more doctors—including those with traditional Western training—are prescribing this ancient practice to their patients.
Yoga therapy is now recognized as a clinically viable treatment, with established programs at major health care centers, such as The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Cleveland Clinic, and many others. In 2003, there were just five yoga-therapy training programs in the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) database. Today, there are more than 130 worldwide, including 24 rigorous multi-year programs newly accredited by IAYT, with 20 more under review. According to a 2015 survey, most IAYT members work in hospital settings, while others work in outpatient clinics or physical therapy, oncology, or rehabilitation departments (and in private practice).
Some therapists focus on physical mechanics, while others bring in Ayurvedic healing principles and factor in diet, psychological health, and spirituality to create a holistic, customized plan.
“Researchers take blood samples before and after yoga practice to see which genes have been turned on and which were deactivated,” says Khalsa. “We’re also able to see which areas of the brain are changing in structure and size due to yoga and meditation.” This kind of research is helping take yoga into the realm of “real science,” he says, by showing how the practice changes psycho-physiological function.
more on contemplative practices in this IMS blog