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What is Yoga Therapy?
Yoga Therapy—or as we call it Yoga As Medicine— is the selective use of various yoga tools — such as poses, breathing techniques, relaxation exercises and meditation, as well as dietary and lifestyle advice — to help people with virtually any health condition, physical or psychological. Because people's health and fitness vary, we often modify poses or use props to make the practices safe and effective. In Yoga As Medicine, we perform detailed holistic assessments of each client—evaluating body, mind, spirit and environment—and then craft a personalized yoga program. And that's precisely what we teach in our seminars and teacher trainings. Yoga therapy can be used by itself or as an adjunct to any conventional or alternative medical treatment.
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Chapter 1 of Saving My Neck
"There is so much wisdom in this heartfelt, moving, and deeply personal book."
– Lorenzo Cohen, PhD, Professor and Director, Integrative Medicine Program, MD Anderson Cancer Center; Co-Author, Anticancer Living: Transform Your Life and Health with the Mix of Six
In 1997, Timothy McCall, MD left a successful medical career to become a yoga therapist. Twenty years later, diagnosed with metastatic cancer, he returned his focus to the practice of medicine, this time as a patient. He would need all he had learned in both healing worlds….
Dr. McCall, Yoga Journal's medical editor and author of the Amazon #1 Bestseller Yoga As Medicine, leads us on a surprise-filled journey from South India to the US and back, from banana, jackfruit and coconut groves to sterile hospital wards. Part memoir and part meditation on holistic healing, Saving My Neck: A Doctor's East/West Journey through Cancer is for yogis and non- yogis alike. It's for healthcare professionals, holistic healers and those facing health challenges — and anyone who loves a good story.
"A masterpiece written from the heart."
– Dilip Sarkar, MD, FACS, DLitt; Associate Professor of Surgery (Retired), Eastern Virginia Medical School; Past President, International Association of Yoga Therapists
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In conjunction with an online course on Yoga As Medicine on Yoga U, I recorded this video. It's over 40 minutes long, and is a good introduction to my overall approach to yoga therapy, my ideas about what yoga teachers and therapists should — and shouldn't — be doing with students with medical conditions, integrating yoga into modern medical care, etc. I had a lot of fun recording this interview and hope you enjoy it!
Below are a number of my favorite articles, including the first article I wrote for Yoga Journal , when I became their Medical Editor in 2002, and several more recent ones. These articles were published in a variety of sources from Yoga International to the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, as well as a couple published in my email Newsletter. "Is Yogic Levitation Possible?" isn't an article, but I couldn't resist including it.
101 Conditions Benefited by Yoga (as Shown in Scientific Studies)
For years I've been publishing a list of health conditions that have been demonstrated in scientific studies to be benefited by yoga. I've just updated it, reviewing research up to October 2106. There has been so much growth in yoga research that we're now up to 101 condtions, increased from 75 the last time I compiled the list in 2013. The PDF includes 28 pages of references with hyperlinks to study abstracts and, where available, to free fulll-text articles. There's also a single-page PDF with just the list of 101 conditions. I publish these lists as a service, so please feel free to share the PDF on Facebook, your web site, or with your doctor!
Big Reveal: My Cancer Diagnosis. For a variety of reasons, when I needed to undergo chemotherapy and radiation at the beginning of 2017, I decided to keep it private. But now I'm releasing a book about the experience, so it's time to make it public.
Is Alternate Nostril Breathing Really Just a Placebo? A Response to The Atlantic
It amazes me how some physicians and skeptics of yoga feel free to disparage practices they clearly know next-to-nothing about. They seem to think if it's sounds far-fetched to them, then it must be baloney, without feeling the need to do any further research on the topic...
Western Science vs. Eastern Wisdom
This was the very first, and still my favorite, of my Yoga Journal articles. It describes my first trip to India, and my efforts to reconcile what I'd learned in medical school with what I was experiencing in my yoga practice.
Yoga as a Technology for Life Transformation
How the millennia-old practice of yoga creates sustainable positive change. I wrote this article for the Kripalu catalog just before completing my year as a scholar-in-residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in 2005.
Does Yoga Kill:
Yoga, Truthiness and The New York Times
This article systematically takes apart New York Times writer William Broad's claims that yoga is responsible for hundreds of strokes per year, the emotional linchpin of his yoga-wrecks-your-body arguments.
The Good Doctor
Yoga International profiled my therapy work and the 5-day Yoga As Medicine seminars I teach around the world. The article includes a sidebar discussion on how I teach students to conduct comprehensive assessments of yoga therapy "patients" in order to plan treatment approaches.
The Whole of Yogic Healing
This article lays out the crucial difference between holism and reductionism. Failing to understand this distinction leads many well-meaning people to embrace sometimes dubious alternative treatments, which I lump into a category I call "alternative reductionism." I hope you'll find it both provocative and full of practical implications for how to keep yourself healthy.
Man Bites Downward-Facing Dog
I wrote this in response to William Broad's New York Times article, "Wounded Warrior Pose," and its inflammatory and inaccurate claims about the "remarkable" dangers of yoga. Broad and I have disagreed before, but given the alarmist assertions and flawed science in his articles, I felt it was time to address the matter directly, and speak up on behalf of yoga and its vast healing powers.
Yoga As Medicine
Immerse yourself in the art and science of yoga therapy with Dr. Timothy McCall, the bestselling author of Yoga as Medicine (Bantam), medical editor of Yoga Journal, as well as co-editor of the only professional-level medical textbook on yoga therapy, The Principle and Practice of Yoga in Health Care (Handspring Publishing). Yoga As Medicine (YAM) Level 1 is the foundational course, and is strongly recommended, though no longer required, to take any Level 2 YAM Seminars, including The Ayurveda of Yoga Therapy, and Yoga Therapy for the Nervous System.
In all Yoga As Medicine courses, we take an eclectic approach, grounded in science and a strong foundation of good alignment and mindful breathing, yet energetically alive, psychologically savvy and spiritually attuned — true to the heart of yoga and Ayurveda (India's traditional holistic medical system). We believe healing is found in every serious yoga tradition, and use good ideas from different lineages in order to meet the specific needs of our students.
YAM Level 1 and the four YAM Level 2's are five-day, hands-on, roll-up-your-sleeves workshops using a personalized therapeutic approach based on a holistic assessment of function on all levels of body, mind and spirit. YAM uses the full palette of yogic tools including asana, pranayama, and meditation, as well as dietary and lifestyle advice.
"The course helped me to both deepen my understanding of myself, and how I hope to work as a therapist later on. It's been invaluable to me." – Stockholm attendee
Sabbatical from Teaching
I am taking a Sabbatical from teaching until May of 2020, except for one long-since scheduled YAM 2 training in Austin, Texas in December 2019. In 2020, we're planning Yoga As Medicine Seminars in New York, London, the Washington, DC area and the San Francisco Bay area.
The heart and soul of Yoga As Medicine Seminars is group case work, in which participants team up to work — in a supervised fashion — as yoga therapists. This photo and the ones below illustrate case work from recent workshops.
Yoga As Medicine, Level 2,
Yoga Therapy for the Nervous System
December 7th-11th, 2019
For more information on Yoga As Medicine
Seminars and Teacher Trainings or to sign up, please follow the hyperlinks above to the hosting studio or retreat center.
If you'd be interested in hosting a Yoga As Medicine Seminar at your studio, university or retreat center, please contact us at YogaAsMedicine@gmail.com
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