Monday, November 9, 2009

Research Study Reveals Yoga Practitioners Motivations and Benefits

Significant clinical yoga research has been conducted with promising results for mental health, chronic pain, and wellness. However, individual yoga practice has not been emphasized in research. The purpose of a study, funded in part by the Yoga Care Foundation and developed with an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Brigham and Women's Hospital at the Harvard Medical School, was to provide in-depth data on individual yoga practice, e.g., patterns of use, views on yoga, and the associated motivations and benefits to individual practice. Data for the study was gathered from yoga practitioners at Yoga Yoga in Austin, Texas. The sociodemographics of the sample was consistent with previous surveys with the majority of respondents being educated white females with high incomes. The overwhelming view of yoga was that yoga has many purposes including exercise, a spiritual activity, and a way to manage a health condition. Virtually all respondents agreed or strongly agreed that doing yoga would improve their health. Reasons for starting or returning to yoga included physical exercise, general wellness, and stress management.

Research Study Explores Cardiovascular Health and Yoga

The Yoga Care Foundation (YCF) is conducting a joint study with the University of Texas Kinesiology Lab on yoga and cardiovascular health. The project, led by Hirofumi Tanaka, Ph.D., Director, Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory, is studying the effect of a regular yoga practice on the risk of cardiovascular disease, the number one cause of death in the United States. Tanaka previously demonstrated that regular cardiovascular exercise and weight training can impact the heart’s arteries and function. The study aims to replicate this finding in yoga practitioners, comparing beginning yoga students to those with an established practice of at least three years. For information about participating in the study, click here. To read a press release about the study click here.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Wellness...A View of the Emerging (?) Cultural Dialogue

This video from ABC News looks at some of what the Cleveland Clinic is doing in the domain of wellness.  The video is well done well, and the context and the tone of the conversation is illustrative of where we as a country are presently 'spending our time' in national dialogue' about wellness. I would call it a more substantial effort to tie cost to the 'big bad 4' (see below), but what I also hear in this piece is a needed effort to engage lifestyle PRACTICE, not just information.

One of the reasons that yoga has such a key role to play in the expansion of our culture's well-being is that it fits so well into the needs we face now....chronic disease, the role of lifestyle, the need for diet that is modified by what we now know about eating healthfully....the importance of practice rather than 'knowing".

In this piece a physician states what is now a common litany about the big, bad 4 - "75% of the medical costs in the US are caused by 4 things - physical inactivity, food choices, tobacco and stress."  Yoga as a philosophy, a technology and a set of practices is comprehensive, and enthusiastically embraced by much of the US, including those currently practicing as well as those who are not.

The Cleveland Clinic approach includes the launching of Lifestyle180, which you can read about here, and here.

Lifestyle, teaches genuine change, albeit over a long time, through great effort....that just may be what it takes, at both a personal and societal effort.

What a gift to be part of this 'sea change'.


Monday, August 31, 2009

Great Article on Health Care in America - Please Read This!

Each of us has a health care story, probably one that touched our lives pretty closely. Both my mom and my dad, who lived in South Florida, were 'vicitims' of the health care system. I can enumerate a series of hospital borne infection, a leg broken by a hospital technician, hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills that were totally nonsensical. This article "How American Health Care Killed My Father"
by David Goldhill does as brilliant a job giving us a national, personal, human, professional perspective on health care as I have ever read. Here are just a few paragraphs of note:

  • My dad became a statistic—merely one of the roughly 100,000 Americans whose deaths are caused or influenced by infections picked up in hospitals.
  • There needs to be a business reason why an industry, year in and year out, would be able to get away with poor customer service, unaffordable prices, and uneven results—a reason my father and so many others are unnecessarily killed.
  • As a nation, we now spend almost 18 percent of our GDP on health care. In 1966, Medicare and Medicaid made up 1 percent of total government spending; now that figure is 20 percent, and quickly rising. Already, the federal government spends eight times as much on health care as it does on education, 12 times what it spends on food aid to children and families, 30 times what it spends on law enforcement, 78 times what it spends on land management and conservation, 87 times the spending on water supply, and 830 times the spending on energy conservation

The horror is undeniable. Please read it. What you do after that is up to you. Our problem (and it is OUR problem) is not going to go away, and it certainly looks like this round of legislation is not going to come anywhere near the root causesof our dismay.

Similarly to David Goldhill, I have now spent years reading, trying to understand how we can accept, day after day, a system so broken that the application of any common sense would demand dramatic change. Yet the system just persists. Peter Senge can explain it, but WE (and our children as we 'age into' the high use years of health care) have to live with it!

When our grandchildren are left with even worse choices than we have today, what are we going to tell them when they asked why we did nothing?


Saturday, August 29, 2009

Time to Engage Healthcare as Yogis

I envisioned this blog as a place I could begin to express and share some of what I have been learning about healthcare in our country these last few years.  I started my own personal journey towards yoga out of a health concern...I was 28, my back hurt, and I had to do something.  That was a long time ago, and my experiences in these few decades has informed my beliefs, my actions and in fact has shaped the form of my life.  

A few years ago I started exploring how yoga might 'nestle up' against the health care world. It was a question motivated by my strategic analysis of the business enviroment, and how it might produce an environment more able to compensate more senior yoga teachers, as well as a genuine desire to contribute a deep seated belief that yoga is much more than an activity for healthy folk!

I have now found that my journey has taken me far afield and back again. For a few months I've been exploring how to make the most of our company's involvement with Good Health Commons, an integrative health center we have become a 'partner' in. This seems like a journey that is only now beginning.  As yoga teachers we have so much to add to the healthcare debate, and even more to add to what I hope emerges as true health care....preventive, supportive and therapeutic, and a kind of care that serves to support a well understood, ever growing experience of health!  Check out our schedule at Seton/Good Health Commons.


Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Healthcare Debate - a players's guide from the Congressional Research Service

Congressional Research Service has put together a 20-page PDF report as a guide to the debate. Our tax dollars paid for this...feel free to have a read!.

Starting from Somewhere...Yoga, Healthcare, and What Yogis Can Do About It

1o years in, and the fascination, dismay, wonder and challenge I find as a yogi thinking about health care is still making me smile, making me think, and waking me up.

We are all living through an exciting time right now. It looks like President Obama is going to have a health care bill to sign somewhere towards October of this year, and what will be in that bill is certainly still 'up for grabs'.

And while the form of health care economics will likely change, it is clear as can be that people and practices will change at their own pace, regardless of the current politics.

If we are going to spend less on health care in the coming decades (and be healthier while we are doing it), we are going to have to start spending sooner, spend more on prevention, and have our interventions be less 'high tech' when appropriate. Eating well, exercising, and living with a positive 'frame of mind' all work quite well - but they don't pay very well for excessively profit oriented business models, like our healthcare system has embraced in the last 30 years.

This is changing, and I fully intend to participate with this change as a yogi, to support it as a yogic entrepreneur, and to do all I can as a social entrepreneur to find ways that yoga teachers and therapists can engage the marketplace, and establish a genuine, well founded value for their contribution to our communities as we all find our way in this 'new world' of health care.

Please join me. Thanks for reading.