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Yoga Therapy In ALL Hospitals? It’s Down to the Bottom Line

in MUST READS, YD News, Yoga and Healthcare, Yoga Heroes, Yoga Therapy

You know, we’ve been feeling really inspired lately by all the admirable yoga organizations and teachers who’ve made it their work to help people with chronic illness. It’s like every time we turn around there’s a new class or org. springing up for cancer survivors. And that’s a good thing, Martha. How can we be cranky when people are doing such great things in the world? Is this the start to a revolution in health care? We’d like to believe it, but sadly these days (and every day really) it all comes down to the bottom line. How much will it cost? How much will it save? (will it be subsidized?)

Donna Karan’s amazing donation of $850,000 to start a holistic yoga therapy program at NY’s Beth Israel Hospital has had lots of positive attention and results; while physical transformation of the oncology ward is still on the agenda for completion next month, 86 patients have already been treated to therapeutic yoga sessions by the project’s staff, who spend 6 hours a day in the ward. Simple measures like placing a pillow between a patient’s legs or encouraging awareness of the breath have made a huge impact on alleviating the suffering from cancer. So what’s the issue, why not incorporate the programs in every hospital across the land, STAT!

yoga_cashWell let’s get down to the nuts and bolts, and by nuts and bolts we mean the dollar bills y’all. Are holistic nurses actually saving hospitals money? Dr. Woodson Merrell, Chairman of the department of integrative medicine at Beth Israel, says, “Cost saving is what I’m really excited about, because that’s going to be a real change agent, and particularly in this time of global recession when nobody has money to spend on anything.” Yes, no one has any money! Cost saving is very exciting! So ok we get it, patients are improving with yoga and that translates into lower overall treatment costs per patient, which means less money poured into the pharmaceutical industry, which means less money for insurance companies, which means… which means this is never going to happen! All right, it’s still too early to tell. Perhaps we should be more optimistic with Superhero of Hope in the office.

The program at Beth Israel is, for now, only a 1-year experiment. If it’s successful, and clearly we mean for the patients and for the pocketbook (there’s actually a research component measuring cost savings), there’s a glimmer it will live on and, best case, encourage more hospitals to integrate a similar holistic approach. *And struggling yoga teachers, this could be great news for you – more jobs! Of course, that is until hospitals figure out that another way to cut costs is to train in-house nurses and doctors on yoga methods.  sigh. We knew we shoulda listened to mom and gone to med school. At least we won’t be encountering that problem in prison yoga any time soon, right?

Anyway, for now we’re just wondering where all the other down dog millionaires are blowing their pocket change. Jennifer Aniston? You’ve sure got plenty of time on your hands. Russell Simmons? We’re looking at you.

What d’yall think? Anyone have firsthand experience teaching/working in hospitals or as a patient?

[VOA News]

Thanks to elephantbeans for the video heads up.

Earlier…Donna Karan To Make Over Beth Israel Cancer Treatment Floor, Dress It Up in Yoga

Tips for Finding the Right ‘Natural Practitioner’: Is Government Regulation On the Way?

More… Yoga Therapy

12 comments… add one
  • thank you for expanding upon it. 😉

  • This is a great article. Thank you for sharing. I currently work as a yoga therapy instructor at The River Source in Mesa, AZ residential chemical dependency detox center. Yoga is a small part of this treatment program but with very basic exercises done on a regular basis and challenging asana demonstrated, breathing, focus, meditations and laughter -clients participating in the yoga program who allow it to transform them show strength on their recovery path. Yoga it does a body good!

  • The day health insurance gets involved in yoga is the day I get out.

  • I predict it will also lead to the mass production of “yoga therapists”, just like the mass production of yoga teachers. there won’t be not enough jobs.

    besides, I believe all yoga is therapeutic if applied in a certain way. No one called Krishnamacharya a “yoga therapist.”

  • I meant to say: “there won’t be enough jobs”…

  • Patty Kearney

    If we do not want health insurance involved in yoga therapy, and do not want to be constrained by licensure laws, we–reluctantly or not– will need to have a national standard for certification for the practice of yoga therapy. Yoga therapists don’t all like the term, since yoga is inherently therapeutic. I agree, and disagree at the same time. When yoga is used in hospital settings, certain qualifications in the whole of yoga– philosophy as well as anatomy and how to adapt to various conditions, psychology and how to work with indivuadals in various emotional states– are going to be asked for. I think that IAYT should take on the task of setting a national certification standard.

  • Om namah Sivaya!
    so encouraging for us to read this, we are a non-profit trust that is staffed by those who have been through Recovery from Physical Trauma – for those in Recovery from Physical Trauma.
    We use Remedial Yoga Therapy as our central focus. This begins often in ICU with Pranayama and Yoga & Prana Nidra even while ventilators and tracea are still part of the landscape, progresses to one on one daily practices that are taught while in hospitals and rehabs and then continues to include weekly sessions at Brave.
    These include groups, remedial massage, Ayurvedic dietary guidelines, homeopathy, inversion, hydrotherapy etc –
    All with Breath & Awareness – as our teacher and healer

    Since our funds are limited, our community exists on the donations made by those who belong to it… 286 in the past 4 years –
    we are still building our site.
    In the interim please join our face book group – Brave Recovery Warriors.
    we send all others in their pain given state of Grace
    Love, Light and Courage

    The Brave
    Robyne Conway
    Brave Foundation

  • Dawn

    Hi I would like to know if there is a demand for Yoga Therapists in the Medical field. I am trying to do some research before I apply for a Teacher Training Program to work towards a Yoga Therapist Certificate. Thank You

  • Manoj Nambron


  • I have a private practice in Fort Collins, Co. Having had a studio for five years, I was lucky enough to build a client base in addition to group classes. I now work with4-5 clients five days a week. Slowly, there is emerging a sweet cross referral system between chiros and psychotherapists and myself. It’s word of mouth mostly. I do plenty of volunteer work in the community not only because its seva, but Yoga Therapy is still not fully understood. All that said, I still encourage those teachers whose hearts draw them to the field. By 2014, all YT schools will require 800 hours and minimum two years of study and internship. That is exactly the advancement that will finally turn the western medical community’s collective well educated head. That interfacing, potentially even billing insurance and needing licensure will be tricky, but will put the complementary modalities on par with the same stringent training doctors are required to have. Have faith and continue to nurture conversations and create funding for research. This is a beautiful, healing, accessible lifestyle as well as preventative healthcare. Thanks for reading and thanks for the original article!!

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