Monday, October 17, 2016

Yoga and Its Therapeutic Effects

There is a big "todo" going on right now with Yoga Alliance where they are not sanctioning any language for registered yoga teachers that includes references to healing, therapy, etc. (unless of course the instructor has a medical credential which is well outside the scope and licensing of YA). They are also NOT including any type of healing/therapy program in their credentialing list; instead the yoga therapy as it stands as a formal discipline is now covered under a program with the International Association of Yoga Therapists. This group has a lengthy (and pricey) YT program that is quite acclaimed. However what some are struggling with is that their yoga really does have therapeutic applications or they work with special populations and study certain styles and applications of yoga to help improve the quality of life for those struggling with certain dis-eases.

YA states that it is a matter of not authorizing yoga instructors to diagnose or treat medical problems. However, the benefits of yoga are so holistic, that the yoga instructor community that is dedicated to the promotion of well being and support for special populations that require modifications and special focus in a yoga class is frustrated by the lack of being able to list their skills and training as having these positive results/applications. Moreover, they are at risk for having their YA membership and certifications revoked if they do even so much as list the word "heal" on their YA profile (case in point: I had written that I started doing yoga to help heal my mind and body after mental and physical illness. I had to remove the word heal under threat of losing my certification). While there are special designations for Prenatal Yoga and Children's Yoga, there aren't ones for Chair Yoga, or Yoga for Multiple Sclerosis, or Yoga Therapy under the umbrella of the Yoga Alliance. Of course people can train and earn completion certificates from whomever they want, but they won't carry that special "YA" accreditation; there is something valuable about being recognized from a central "authority" with universal standards by which employers and students can gauge their instructors (not unlike the value of bachelor or master degrees from colleges/universities).

All that being said, there is a plethora of excellent work being done out there, whether "certified" or not by Yoga Alliance, by highly qualified, highly educated, highly practiced yogis who are also doctors, scientists, therapists, teachers and other health and well-being professionals.

For example, there has been amazing research on yoga for PTSD by Bessel Van Der Kolk., M.D. who wrote The Body Keeps the Score (my current read that is getting road-worn because I drag it everywhere so I can turn a page any time I have 10 seconds free). On Dr. van der Kolk's website there is an article in which he was interviewed by Integral Yoga Magazine. He said
My interest came from doing research that discovered how trauma affects the brain. Yoga turned out to be a way to get people to safely feel their physical sensations and to develop a quiet practice of stillness.
Here, have a read:

In the meantime, it seems to be very much about semantics, so I can promote myself as a yoga teacher and you and I can just know what's happening inside might be considered (insert the T word here) but we'll just say we had a good practice!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The PHIT Act - legislation to help YOU and your wallet

copied from the Yoga Alliance website:

The PHIT Act: Federal Legislation That Benefits Yogis and All Americans

Last Updated: September 1, 2016
The U.S. is experiencing a sedentary and obesity crisis across the country. Here are just a few of the staggering statistics:
  • According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is the 4th leading cause of death.
  • The CDC director reports that “physical activity is the closest thing we have to a wonder drug.”
  • Congressional findings reveal that the U.S. “ranks last in the world in reducing the number of preventable deaths resulting from obesity-related chronic illnesses,” with nearly one-fifth of American children ages 2 to 19 categorized as overweight or obese.
  • Research is pouring in that indicates that physical inactivity affects the brain and our ability to learn – our future generations are at risk.

What is the PHIT Act?

The “Personal Health Investment Today Act,” or PHIT Act, is a bill currently in Congress aimed at helping to reduce the obesity epidemic through physical fitness.
The PHIT Act would allow taxpayers to place up to $1,000 for individuals (or $2,000 for a joint return or head of household) in pre-tax medical accounts (such as HSAs and FSAs) annually. These funds could be used to pay for physical activity expenses, including yoga-related expenses.

How does it benefit the yoga community?

The Bill will give more Americans a reason to improve their health through physical activity.
Under the proposed Act, yoga classes, studio memberships, teacher training programs, some continuing education, and certain equipment (like mats, blocks, straps) would qualify as tax-deductible medical expenses. By making yoga more affordable in this way, the yoga community will see:
  • More yoga practitioners in their classes
  • Improved access to yoga teacher training programs
  • Greater diversity in yoga
  • More people seeking a healthy lifestyle physically, mentally, and spiritually

Contact Your Members of Congress

Ask them to support this legislation. Encourage your family, friends, students, colleagues and other yoga practitioners you know to do the same. This is by far the most important thing you can do to help!

Learn More About the PHIT Act

Visit the PHIT America website to learn even more about the PHIT Act. Discover the many reasons why this legislation is so important for America's health.