Should Nurses Encourage Yoga for Their Patients?

Yoga (Photo credir: yogawithamber.com.au)
Yoga (Photo credir: yogawithamber.com.au)
Yoga (Photo credir: yogawithamber.com.au)

The popularity of yoga has been swiftly on the rise for the past 10 years and is seen as one of the best ways for people to not only stay healthy physically, but mentally as well. The benefits of yoga are countless and it has been known to help people with physical injuries, mental disabilities, accident trauma, weight issues, anxiety and more. It is even being used on dogs to help with hip dysplasia and other joint problems. Unfortunately, when something becomes this popular, not every class offered is going to be safe and effective. There has been a steep increase in yoga injuries and yoga instructors, nurse and health practitioners are now discussing the best avenue to pursue.

The most common injuries from yoga are generally in the wrists, elbows, shoulders, ribs and lower back. However, joining that list are high blood pressure, neck injuries, risk or stroke and headaches. These and other injuries are becoming more and more common, and the blame can no longer be placed solely on the overeager student. While someone with an injury or medical condition who is a new yoga student should familiarize themselves with how the practice could affect them, they should not be expected to know how to keep themselves safe. A yoga teacher should know how certain poses affect certain injuries or conditions, what is most likely to cause injury, and how to adapt or change positions or asanas to keep students safe.

Victoria McColm, the founder of Prevent Yoga Injury, believes that in yoga teacher training, most medical conditions and yoga contraindications are rushed through or glossed over. She also mentions that those looking for more in-depth information or training have been hard pressed to find it. To address this, she created Prevent Yoga Injury and has written The Contraindication Index for Yoga Asanas, which will hopefully be the first step in educating people on this subject.

The book is not only a guide for yoga teachers. McColm has designed the information to be accessible for doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals, as well as yoga students with a general idea of anatomy. The book cross references the 35 most common medical conditions with 112 fundamental yoga poses. There are instructions for modifying certain asanas, changing poses for injuries, and recommendations for avoiding some movements altogether. It encourages people with perceived limiting conditions to try some basic, gentle poses as a way to ease them into a practice.

Yoga is recommended by most healthcare professionals to overweight people for great exercise, to anxious people as a way to calm the mind, to pregnant women as a way to promote the baby’s health. But many are hesitant to encourage patients to form a yoga practice sure to lack of experience or knowledge. Hopefully, this book will be a way for nurses and others in healthcare to have a more informed view on yoga and enable them to better help their patients. Would you recommend yoga to your patients?

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