Healing the Healers: Physician Wellness, Patient Care and Yoga Practice

Google “yoga and ___” nearly any illness, ailment or injury, and you will find a vast resource of information and ideas.  And not just personal anecdotes from yoga bloggers and enthusiasts.  There is significant research, evidence and new data emerging almost daily, on the general health benefits of yoga, as well as yoga as part of a treatment program for specific diseases.

 

In a recent study, doctors at the University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, found that regular yoga practice may reduce episodes of irregular heartbeat by up to 50% in patients with atrial fibrillation (AF). http://www.theheart.org/condition/arrhythmia-ep.do

Yoga was shown by an Ohio State University College of Medicine study to decrease inflammatory markers in the blood, concluding “If yoga dampens or limits stress-related changes, then regular practice could have substantial health benefits.” http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2820143/ Other studies have found yoga to be beneficial for everything from eating disorders and depression to spinal cord injuries and orthopaedic rehab.

One significant trend to emerge from the [2008 Yoga Journal “Yoga in America”] study is the use of yoga as medical therapy. “Yoga as medicine represents the next great yoga wave,” says Kaitlin Quistgaard, editor in chief of Yoga Journal. “In the next few years, we will be seeing a lot more yoga in health care settings and more yoga recommended by the medical community as new research shows that yoga is a valuable therapeutic tool for many health conditions.”

Mountain Pose Yoga Festival was created to introduce these concepts to medical professionals, or to deepen the study and understanding for those providers already using yoga in their practices.  Attendees will be able to experience first-hand some of the ways yoga can be used for treatment of back pain, stress, anxiety and depression, the symptoms of menopause, altitude sickness, and heart disease.  Many of the techniques can be easily added into existing treatment programs, simply integrating an additional approach to health and healing, without abandoning traditional therapies.

Additionally, the workshops and lectures will move beyond simply “prescribing yoga” to a better understanding of the types of yoga, appropriate postures, questions patients should ask, and things patients should be aware of before beginning or continuing a practice.  According to the Yoga Journal study, 6.1%, or nearly 14 million Americans, say that a doctor or therapist has recommended yoga to them. In addition, nearly half (45%) of all adults agree that yoga would be a beneficial if they were undergoing treatment for a medical condition.  But, do those patients and providers know that Ashtanga Yoga might be too aggressive for injury rehabilitation, that hot yoga isn’t recommended for pregnant women, or that Plow Pose should be avoided if there is suspected osteoarthritis in the neck? 

The festival and presenters will also be focused on how the health care providers themselves can incorporate yoga into their personal routines, as well as their professional ones.  Physician burnout, overwork, stress and exhaustion have been attributed to everything from depression to lapses in patient care.  Managing the physical, emotional and mental challenges of medical practice is not typically taught in medical schools.  Yoga can be a powerful and easily-accessible tool for the health of the health care providers.   According to Patricia Lebensohn, MD, director of integrative medicine in residency, Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, “initial findings from residents participating in a wellness study as part of a curriculum in integrative medicine suggest that physicians need to more closely practice what they preach. Health measures often left much room for improvement.” http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/739149

Mountain Pose Yoga Festival at Copper Mountain has collaborated with Dr. Satkirin Khalsa of Integrated Health Medicine, to present this educational opportunity, featuring such renowned presenters as T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, bestselling author and “wellness warrior” Kris Carr, Rodney Yee, Kenneth Bock, MD, and Daniel B Mark, MD.  Provider Wellness: Mountain Pose Yoga Festival for the Medical Provider, has been reviewed and is acceptable for up to 6.50 Prescribed credits by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

~Erin Kennedy, Copper Mountain Chamber

Photos Courtesy of Copper Mountain

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