The Power of Yoga Medicine Teachers

“If to be human is to be limited, then the role of caring professions and institutions ought to be aiding people in their struggle with those limits. Sometimes we can offer a cure, sometimes only a salve, sometimes not even that. But whatever we can offer, our interventions and the risks and sacrifices they entail are justified only if they serve the larger aims of a person’s life. When we forget that, the suffering we inflict can be barbaric. When we remember it the good we can do can be breathtaking”.

These are inspiring words written by Atul Gawande, a surgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health, in his book Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.

As Yoga Medicine Teachers, these words may inspire us in many ways. As with other health practitioners, Gawande’s words may encourage the honing of our skills. Building rapport, listening, questioning. Observing and assessing our clients to support our clients’ health and goals in life. Yet, Yoga Medicine Teachers may have additional ways to aid people.

Helping in a New Way

According to Being Mortal, “each year, about 350,000 Americans fall and break a hip. Of those, 40 percent end up in a nursing home, and 20 percent are never able to walk again. The three primary risk factors for falling are poor balance, taking more than four prescription medications, and muscle weakness. Elderly people without these risks have a 12 percent chance of falling in a year. Those with all three risk factors have almost a 100 percent chance”. These are staggering statistics, especially considering our modern world of high prescription intake and more sedentary lifestyles.

So how can Yoga Medicine Teachers support individuals? Considering these risk factors -our modern age of prescriptions and sedentary habits – we offer a new solution.

It starts with our intake and evaluation. During our intake and evaluation, we have the opportunity to observe and assess balance, muscle weakness, the range of motion. We can assess function, posture, and pain, and offer preventative intervention. We have the opportunity to recommend yoga poses and techniques to help restore strength, balance, and function.

Additionally, during the intake and evaluation, we may ask questions related to the number and prescriptions a client may be taking. While it is outside of our scope to recommend reducing or eliminating these prescriptions, we may be able to share information regarding the number of prescriptions, interactions, and side effects, and recommend a further discussion with the primary care doctor.

Yoga Medicine Teachers may have ways in aiding people, that other health care practitioners can’t. Our power lies in our building rapport, listening, asking questions, observing our clients, assessing anatomy and physiology, and most importantly recommending aspects of yoga and referrals to other health care practitioners to support our clients’ health and goals in life.

by Joy Esler, AP, MMQ, RYT.

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