about the future of yoga therapyBy James Hall

Yoga Therapy and its therapeutic applications are beginning to gain popularity within the Western spheres of Health care. At its helm are Key Decision influencers from varied scientific and health backgrounds with a strong interest to encourage this branch of Yoga.

As the jury is still out, and opinions differ on what is, and constitutes Yoga Therapy and its therapeutic applications, the following questions may have to be asked and debated.

Can we categorically define YT and its therapeutic intention?

It could be the utilisation of the various tools of Yoga and Ayurveda to achieve specific wellness outcomes on a 1:1 basis according to the needs of the individual? However how do we define measurable outcomes? , either singularly or as part of the larger Allopathic picture and programme. Indeed will YT ever be truly accepted by the mainstream institutions, Health care professionals or clients who do not have or share a personal interest in Yoga or YT? I am in no doubt that individuals with no knowledge and interest will be referred, but this will probably be secondary to an established Pharmacological protocol or surgical intervention? And how do we measure and define the success of a single course of action? In addition to a current appreciative audience this limitation may place YT in the same well-meaning brackets as other modalities i.e. Reiki and Reflexology etc.

Another question can relate to how much YT should be legislated and if any government influence is required?

Some legislation has already been considered State side to categorise Yoga from a taxable view point, which is currently the source of refute and debate. We are however discussing the role of YT in the legislative therapeutic environment of healthcare. All these professions have strict codes of professional conduct and accountability guidelines. Some YT bodies have developed frameworks and guidelines but these are not legislated and if anything no more than a voluntary code. In essence a trained YT, (remember schools can train differently, “there are no current or binding national training protocols”) are certified by their school and can then join the national body. Indeed some organisations like the AAYT are now suggesting that a registered YT programme vetted by themselves will provide a higher degree of Yoga Therapist.

However is this enough? Will YT be accepted or will it be consigned to work from only the sidelines of the allopathic model? Remember there may be indemnity but very little accountability, and the possibility of a Yoga Therapist with additional experience limited to a year of YT training and a basic understanding of how a modern health care system operates. YT professionals may run the risk of being marginalised by other allied health professionals who do not recognise their qualifications, and how they may liaise with the other MDT members.

Would YT be best learnt at university with mandated curriculums and frameworks already common in the health care sector? This of course would rule out the Yoga schools who would no doubt wish to keep the training in house and make very good returns on a year’s additional study for experienced Yogi’s.

Remember to a lot of people the money is in the training and not the finished product, this is even sadly true in Modern academic centres where there can be too many professionals to fill current vacancies.

Can a year’s additional training be enough compared to current Health Professional standards?

When recommending a specific YT intervention, a comprehensive knowledge of modern disease pathologies, allopathic interventions and side effects of treatment is a must before planning and subsequent evaluation. This is incorporated into modern YT training but with a strong emphasis on time, and the content may be less or contain shorter time intervals to digest than required. Remember for many health professionals the understanding of these processes takes years to digest, first as part of a degree programme and then on the coal face. If planning does not come from a sound theoretical and practical knowledge base, then planned interventions may prove fruitless.

An example of this could be a YT response to GORD. The medical model would consider that historically that reflux is causing Oesophageal erosion of the outer layers of the mucosa and treat with PPI’s and in some cases A/B therapy. But if the anatomical problem was not GORD and say NERD then we are not dealing with a localised issue and may be an Auto immune inflammatory issue with a different set of parameters and YT interventions. Remember this is but one of many examples.

Remember that with Yoga the positive side effects of the practice are an increase in wellness and health. The promotion of the practice and movement encourages the movement of energy which affects the balance of the Gunas and the subsequent Doshic responses.

Some healthcare insurers are now even re classing Yoga away from a claimable health benefit extra, which may affect how it is viewed within the healthcare sector.

Do all Yogic practices sit well within the health sector and current allopathic interventions?

A possible YT curriculum example may support the inclusion of the Yamas/ Niyamas in the training programme. Yes a Yogi would realise the importance but would the public care? , would these have any positive therapeutic outcome on wellness initiatives undertaken. So long as professional standards are maintained they may become defunct to therapeutic practice. After all the predominant driving force in modern health care are Pharmacological interventions and profit has already been shown to deeply erode the Hippocratic Oath.

When wellness initiatives are undertaken how do we measure outcomes?

Do we offer Biomechanical feedback or blood tests? Should we have specifically trained YT courses for differing health models i.e. Physical and Mental? , or possibly sub specialised YT’s. This could vary from an in-depth understanding of Psychotropic interventions and Tamasic Body – Tamasic mind for mental wellness or even dementia, which may prove advantageous, through to physical outcomes? Physical outcomes may include, autonomic nervous system balance, reduced adrenal fatigue, revitalised joints, or the mental outcomes i.e. reduced mental anguish and anxiety.

Undoubtedly the model for YT is heading in the right direct primarily due to the enthusiasm and hard work of KDI and Yoga schools. However whatever the final formula proves to represent and how this is incorporated into the Modern health care system remains to be seen. I would hope that some of the historical avenues pursued in Yoga, including blind alleys and dead ends are not repeated.

Regards James

James Hall is a certified Yoga teacher. He is teaching Yoga classes in the Adelaide, South Australia area.

© Copyright 2015 – James Hall / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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