What's Your Story?

So, your health or wellness professional has suggested you try yoga for _______________ (insert your issue here). Or, maybe you've just heard so much about yoga and how it can be helpful, that you decided to take this course. Either way, great for you!

Yoga is now recommended to help people manage and heal from various physical, mental, and emotional health issues and diagnoses. This is incredible! I love that our healthcare providers are doing more to encourage non-pharmaceutical methods of managing symptoms and healing our bodies and minds. Yoga is wonderful because it can be used with or sometimes instead of medications. That will be different for each individual.

Traditional healthcare hasn't always believed in or supported nontraditional methods, even though people have utilized them for thousands of years. When I use the term traditional healthcare, I'm referring to the healthcare system in the United States and many other developed countries. Traditional healthcare providers include physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners, physician's assistants, psychologists, social workers, occupational and physical therapists, etc.

Nontraditional practitioners may include yoga teachers, acupuncturists, herbalists, massage therapists, other bodyworkers, and many more.

Below are some ways traditional healthcare looks at the more nontraditional approaches such as yoga.

Alternative medicine = when approaches such as yoga are used instead of standard traditional healthcare.

  • Choosing to practice yoga instead of taking medication for _______ (insert your issue here). Some people have turned away partially or entirely from traditional healthcare and rely on nontraditional approaches for healing.

Complementary medicine = when approaches such as yoga are used at the same time as standard traditional healthcare.

  • Choosing to practice yoga in addition to what your doctor has prescribed for your condition, but your healthcare provider may not even know about your alternative practice. Often people don't tell their doctor they are trying nontraditional approaches for fear of being shamed, or they just don't think it is important.

Integrative medicine = when approaches such as yoga or supplements are used purposefully and intentionally with standard traditional healthcare.

  • Now that the evidence (research) is undeniable that yoga and other nontraditional approaches can benefit our health and wellness, and so many people are turning to these approaches, more traditional healthcare providers are talking to their patients about these options and monitoring how they are affecting health.

Because more people like you are exploring alternative options such as yoga, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health was created as a branch of the National Institute for Health. This branch studies nontraditional approaches to health, such as yoga, to help the public understand the risks and the benefits.

Complementary, Alternative, or Integrative Health: What's In a Name? | NCCIH (nih.gov)

Let's Talk About You

Why are you interested in yoga (other than someone told you it would be good for you)? Do you want to:

  • Decrease pain
  • Increase mobility
  • Improve posture
  • Increase strength
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Improve focus
  • Improve breathing
  • Lose weight
  • Tone muscles

Now, I want you to think about your reasons differently and consider the bigger picture.

Ultimately we all want quality of life. What does this mean? We want to be able to do all the activities that bring meaning to our lives, and we want to do them in a way that is most satisfying to us. Let me provide an example from my own life, and then I'll ask you to do the same.

Some of the most meaningful activities in my life are doing the work I love, playing with my grandkids, and hiking in the woods. Let's discuss playing with the grandkids. My grandkids are currently six and three years old, and they love going to the park. I love taking them, but there can be many experiences when going to the park. I could take them to the park and sit on a bench and watch them play, but that is NOT my definition of a satisfying and quality experience with my grandkids at the park.

My definition of a satisfying and quality experience while at the park with my grandkids includes pushing them on the swings (including underdogs), climbing up the tallest slide, sliding down with one or both on my lap, piggyback rides, climbing trees, and rolling down hills together. If I could not do these things with them, I would be sad. Now that may not be anyone else's definition of a quality experience, but that is OK. We are all individuals.

Amy in a tree with her grandchildren

Now it is your turn. Take a moment to read through the list and reflect on what makes a quality life for YOU.

  • Easily get down on the floor and back up (to stretch, exercise, play, etc.)
  • Continue with recreational activities (golf, tennis, hiking, camping, gardening, etc.)
  • Continue to do my preferred exercise (jogging, walking, weights, Pilates, yoga, etc.)
  • Travel
  • Continuing to do the work you love as long as you can
  • Volunteering
  • Care for parents, kids, or pets
  • Sit at a computer without discomfort
  • Play with kids or pets
  • Move furniture for spring or fall cleaning
  • Carry groceries or laundry baskets
  • Vacuum the entire house without stopping
  • Squat down comfortably to reach into a cupboard
  • Go up and down stairs easily
  • Sit for a long car ride comfortably and get out of the car without difficulty
  • Be comfortable in your clothes
  • Be at a healthy weight
  • Other (this list can go on and on)

You may have thought about something that is not on this list. That's OK. Many activities make a quality life, and there is a vast range within each activity.

Next, reflect on any area you don't currently feel satisfied with your ability to do the activity the way you want to do it. If you can't do it or do it at the level you want to, why?

Here are some common reasons I hear from my clients.

  • I'm too tired.
  • My back/body hurts.
  • I'm not strong enough.
  • My anxiety or depression gets in the way.
  • I'm worried I'll get hurt.

In the next section, we'll cover the basics about yoga and how yoga can help with these issues and many more. These are some of the common issues or diagnoses that yoga is being recommended for:

  • Decrease pain
  • Increase mobility
  • Improve posture
  • Increase strength
  • Decrease anxiety
  • Improve focus
  • Improve breathing
  • Lose weight
  • Tone muscles

Warrior One Pose

Below is a photo of me teaching one of my yoga classes and several of the class participants. These are real people practicing yoga. You might notice that everyone's pose looks slightly different. That is OK! Everyone is still getting the benefits of yoga. You may also notice everyone dressed in whatever makes them feel comfortable. No tights required!

Amy teaching a yoga class
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