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.
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!
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 a prerequisite for all Level 2 YAM Seminars, including The Ayurveda of Yoga Therapy, and Yoga Therapy for the Nervous System. Click here for teaching schedule.
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). I 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
YAM Weekend-Only Option
In 2017, many of of the Yoga As Medicine Seminars will include a weekend-only option.
Though we encourage anyone who can to take the full 5-day YAM training — which includes the group case work and Timothy's detailed review of cases — we realize not everyone can. The weekend option gives you an introduction to his philosophy of yoga therapy, his take on structure (what he calls "holistic yoga anatomy"), two short and two longer practices, and an introduction to incorporating Ayurvedic principles into yoga therapy. Even a basic understanding of India's ancient medical system can deepen your personal yoga practice and, if you teach, help you better tailor practices for your students.
During the Sunday of the YAM workshops with the weekend option, Timothy conducts a sample yoga therapy case on one of the workshop participants, in which he performs a detailed holistic assessment and begins to develop a personalized yoga practice for them. For those staying for the full five days, he bring that student back up on 4th day, and teaches them the practice he's developed for them, making any necessary changes depending on how the student responds to the practice (see photos above and below).
Dr. Timothy McCall's
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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!
Updated! Good Yoga Teachers "Read" Bodies Better Than Doctors Do
After all the training I'd had in medical school in anatomy, orthopedics, rheumatology, etc., when I started to practice yoga I was shocked to observe how much good yoga teachers could see anatomically that I could not. I've updated this article in conjunction with the Seeing and Understanding Bodies training that I'll be teaching in Milwaukee this summer
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.
50 Ways to Heal a Yogi
This is an alternate version of the article published in Yoga Journal under the name "38 Ways Yoga Keeps You Fit." It's much more complete than the article that appeared in the magazine; it also groups the ways yoga improves health into categories like "Musculoskeletal," "Circulatory" and "Organ Function," which makes it a little more user-friendly.
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.
Stress, Your Health, and Yoga
Yoga isn't only about stress reduction, but it's a big part of how it heals. This article was published on the Yoga for Healthy Aging blog.
Interview with IJYT
In this interview conducted by Kelly McGonigal, PhD, then Editor-in-Chief of The International Journal of Yoga Therapy, I discuss what Western medicine can learn from Yoga and Ayurveda, the risks, challenges, and rewards of conducting research on yoga therapy, etc.
Landmark Study: Yoga Lowers Health Care Costs
Scientific evidence suggests that yoga can help people with a wide variety of health conditions. Even so, most insurance companies have been reluctant to reimburse for yoga or yoga therapy, because they wanted to see proof that doing so would actually save them money....
Is Yogic Levitation Possible?
Only available here! Be sure to click here for the whole story.
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 1
All That Matters
South Kingstown, RI
Saturday September 23rd -
Wednesday September 27th or
Saturday September 23rd -
Sunday September 24th
Yoga As Medicine, Level 1
National Yoga Academy
Virginia Beach, VA
Saturday, October 21st -
Wednesday, October 25th
Yoga As Medicine, Level 1
Saturday November 4th -
Wednesday November 8th or
Saturday November 4th -
Sunday November 5th
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