Doctor Prescribed Yoga is Good Medicine

Imagine your healthcare provider giving you a prescription to attend yoga class. How broad-minded and wise is that? This is occurring at Alliance Medical Ministry in Raleigh.

Through a partnership with You Call This Yoga, adaptive chair and mat yoga classes are provided on-site for an initial four week period.

The students are private patients of this nonprofit organization who provides healthcare to underserved and uninsured citizens. They received printed prescriptions for the yoga classes to improve their mobility, strength, balance and relaxation.

The first class was held on September 12 with an enthusiastic 18 students, included a staff physician. Also participating was another yoga teacher, Elise, who served as our Spanish translator and yoga model. The attendees ranged in age from 20’s to 60’s, and an even mix of Hispanic and Afro-American women. One male was wise enough to attend. All students were new to yoga and ready to learn.

We started seated for simplicity in learning proper body alignment, breathing and ease of communication. I learned how to say alignment in Spanish, too. Several people had physical challenges and there was a broad range of height. All of these factors called for adaptations on the chair, one of my favorite things to do. Our first adaptation was getting tall folks on taller chairs, then we added rolled up mats to add an extra cushion for those who needed it. For some other students, we used them as back supports. These were quite unique ways to experience the yoga mat.

Our poses and movements included Sitting Mountain, Cow/Cat and a 6 Pose Shoulder Flow, all of which eased back, neck and shoulder tension. The students were wonderfully attentive and engaging, making it a joy to teach there. Their obvious relaxation permeated the room.

Sharing yoga with new populations is very rewarding. People respond so well when they can breathe, focus, and move in a safe manner. It’s good medicine that can empower anyone and help them to heal, just what the doctor ordered. I’m ready for another dose next week.