Bridging Yoga Medicine & Western Medicine: Part III

Part 3: Partnering from Within: Your Community Yoga Network

This is the third of a four-part series of articles for yoga teachers on networking within the medical community. In the first installment, we explored defining the types of patients you can best help and using Evidence-Based Medicine (EBM) to validate the ways in which you can support them. In the second, we looked at ways to align your services within today’s healthcare world of patient-centered care and quality improvement. Now we will delve into further alignment, this time exploring yourself in a relationship with your greatest asset – yoga colleagues teaching and working in your community.

Recognizing Strengths While Bringing Awareness to Ahamkara

In the eagerness to bridge yoga with the medical community in your locale, it is very important to carry mindful self-awareness with you. As yoga teachers within a broader network of skillful yoga providers, we must each recognize our unique strengths within the practice of yoga while creating familiarity with the strengths of those around us.

Though we may like to think we can help everyone, yoga teaches us to always be aware of our ahamkara (ego) and its sophisticated tendency to influence our actions.

Back in the summer between my undergraduate and medical school training, I interned with my university’s medical humanities department, working with a local massage therapist interested in building a network of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) providers. At the time, the first integrative health clinics set our city abuzz. The concept was creative and unique for its time – a center for health promotion and self-care supported by complementary wellness providers poised to partner with individual medical providers.

Unfortunately, the clinic did not stay open for very long. Positioned as a stand-alone center, practitioners primarily referred patients to other practitioners within the clinic. Many CAM providers felt the center underutilized the city’s rich CAM community, which may have contributed to the center’s fate.

Ask yourself, what are your true drives for wanting to partner with neighboring medical providers?

For most all of us, the answer to this question is not simply to increase our number of clients. More likely, it is the drive within us to share the beauty of yoga and help others to heal which drives us to reach out to the healthcare world. With this commitment to service at the forefront, aligning yourself with peers in your community becomes a much more meaningful task.

Yoga Industry Expert

By networking with other yoga teachers and yoga therapists in your community, you can add value to the services you may potentially provide within healthcare. As you become an “industry expert” in your vicinity, you can position yourself to be a key liaison between the medical and yoga communities.

Taking on new client referrals from medical clinics can become as important as becoming the point person for referrals to others in the community. In this way, even if a medical clinic is not quite ready to take you on as an employee, they can be confident in your skills as a primary practitioner to refer patients to, whether it is for care or for triage to another skilled yoga teacher or therapist with different expertise.

Key Take-Aways from Parts 1-3:

  1. Define the community of patients you can best serve.
  2. Build support with the help of EBM to validate the ways in which you can help them.
  3. Understand how yoga can align with quality improvement trends in healthcare including patient-centered care, self-management, and cost-reduction.
  4. Nurture relationships with yoga teachers and therapists in your community as you become an industry expert, able to both teach and effectively bridge medical providers with the appropriate yoga care for their patients.

Join me for the next and final installment of this series where we will discuss one more approach to networking within healthcare – self-care for medical providers themselves. Healer, heal thyself.

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