Bringing Awareness to Yoga: Yoga as an Alternative Complimentary Therapy

In researching information on an article I am writing about Yoga for Cancer Pain, I found an incredible article in the US National Library of Medicine – National Health Institute; about the growth of research concerning yoga as a modality to treat various health-related problems. The article is called: In Search of Yoga: Research Trends in a Western Medical Database. Yoga as most of you know has become an integral part of my life. As such – to merely demonstrate poses and teach in front of a class is a small piece of being a well rounded instructor. The various postures we intend to achieve throughout classes are merely platforms of self-study and awareness. While the benefits of the physical practice promote strength, balance, and steadiness – the physical practice is always accompanied by a mental practice once we bring our attention to the cerebral chatter that constantly accompanies each pose. That little voice in our head is telling us a lot about ourselves both consciously and unconsciously. From a mind/body point of view – it is also manifesting things inside and outside of our bodies.

The power of the mind is incredible. What if we began to simply witness the mind and witness the chatter instead of reacting to it? Could it and would it be possible to control stress levels, anxiety levels, and even pain tolerance levels? Since my background has been in chronic pain the last 6 1/2 years – my interests in yoga for chronic pain and various other types of pain has grown significantly.

There has been an incredible thrust over the last decade regarding Yoga Health and Wellness and I am excited about the implications as the population is becoming more empowered to take care of themselves physically, mentally, and spiritually. I for one, love the beautiful poses and postures that the body can create when we are patient with our own process of opening and stretching. However – to focus simply on the pose is to merely scratch the surface of the underlying benefits of yoga.

It is important to me to continuously bring awareness to others that might be looking for an option for self-help, self-treatment, self-improvement, and self-empowerment. Yoga has significantly changed my point of view on self-awareness, self-reflection, and personal development. I believe as a whole, our population is evolving and we are trending back towards our roots by taking less invasive measures of medical treatment whether it be alternative medicine, alternative therapy, or non-surgical approaches to self-treatment. I think this is also a direct result to the changing healthcare landscape, rising medical costs, and the negative effects that medication can sometimes have on the body. Collectively, we are beginning to have a greater awareness over our own bodies, eating heathier, and workings out more. In the practice of yoga – we want to create steady/relaxed physical bodies AND steady/relaxed minds. When the body and mind are steady – we find calmness, relaxation and a field of space that has yet to be explored.

The first articles of yoga were officially published in Western medicine journals as early as 1948. Yoga was not widely accepted as a medical practice at the time. Perhaps two of the greatest difficulties in creating a solid research study thus far for yoga is finding both the patients and the funding to create a large scale study. Multiple research data collection sites would need to be set-up to handle a large volume of patients. It is my goal to hopefully shed light on this topic in the future. I know that there is significant results driven evidence that can prove the benefits of yoga – I see it every day in my classes and by talking with my students.

According to the article, as of 2012 – over 53% of the articles on yoga dealt with stress/anxiety. That’s huge! We live in a society that is constantly under stress. Only 17% of the articles since 2012 addressed pain conditions. Cancer Pain is also an emerging topic that is been getting significantly more attention. A lot of research has gone into physical therapy, but I believe a study needs to be created that takes nearly identical subjects that would be selected to go to physical therapy and have them undergo a 3 x a week yoga program for a period of at least 6 months. Why is this important? Because right now yoga is not covered by insurance. I believe it should be. If we can get yoga to be covered by insurance, we could potentially lower the overall costs of healthcare.

The paradigm of yoga is shifting – it’s benefits are unquestionable and health insurances would be proactively advocating their members to participate in gym and other yogic center programs. Less stress equals less medications and less symptomatic problems within the body. A bottle of meds can cost several hundred dollars a month…thousands of dollars a year to the health insurance company. What if we could reduce that cost and patients monthly deductables by providing low cost memberships to fitness centers with individuals with pre-existing or emerging health problems? Or better yet – what if yoga based health clubs or yoga therapy providers could charge the insurance companies directly? Everyone would benefit – the patient or individual would be getting quality certified instruction, gyms would potentially see higher membership numbers, and insurance costs could potentially go down because now the member is incentivized to take a proactive stance on his or her own health.

These are just my thoughts – but I think it is wonderful to see so many new articles being released to investigate the positive effects of a consistent yoga practice. As always – thank you to all my family, friends, and loved ones for their on going support as I move along this path of self-evolution and growth. Namaste.

To read the articles I am referring to above – please go to:

1. US National Library of Medicine – National Health Institute:  In Search of Yoga: Research Trends in a Western Medical Database. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4097914/

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