Therapeutic Yoga   -

Physician Wellness:
It Begins in Medical School

Since 2010, we've designed curricula, presented electives and extra-curricular programming in medical schools and integrative clinics to:

1. Honor and support all students and health care professionals as they
    move through the Rites of Passage in becoming a talented healer, a
    skilled technician, a compassionate communicator, confidant, guide and
    valued resource for patients and peers

2. Provide medical students, residents and chief residents, physician
    assistants and public health masters candidates with best practices
    for self-care, mindfulness and self-awareness

3. Enhance coping mechanisms and resiliency by teaching skills and
    providing peer group support to prevent burn-out and unconscious
    reliance upon unhealthy habits (use of recreational drugs, prescription
    drug and alcohol abuse, development of negative self-image and abusive

4. Expand powers of concentration, focus and problem solving

5. Clarify obstacles to peak performance, personal and professional goals

6. Identify practices for healthy interpersonal and professional relationships
    that can move beyond personal practices, and into medical practice

7. Created innovative programs for medical students to experience and
    understand the applications of therapeutic yoga on the national stage, as
    well as institutional settings

8. Support students desiring mentorship, internship opportunities,   
    practicum development, supervision and preceptorship

9. Complement traditional Western medical thinking with Eastern practices

10. Restore and reclaim as sense of value and worthiness as a human being

Medical Yoga Curriculum:
A Journey Toward Wellness
for Students and the Community

 "Things I got out of my first year in yoga with you at GW:

    ~ a community of people I practiced yoga with on a weekly basis
    ~ Your questions, your thoughts, your leadership, and the fellow students helped me feel more at home at GW
    ~ I began a yoga practice of my own, either through mindfulness activities or actual physical yoga
    ~ I became more aware of my anxiety and stress and I began my path towards separating from it and being able to be a medical student/doctor in a more healthy whole balanced way
    ~ I was exposed to your calming teachings and your wisdom, which has helped frame my experience as a medical student
    ~ I have been exposed to and am exploring how yoga, meditation, and mindfulness can play a part in healing and medicine for my future patients"

As a teacher, one rarely knows how the practice affects a person, but here are two notes from a medical student preparing for medical boards:

"Hi Linda, I just wanted to let you know that I used the relaxation and self-awareness techniques you taught me yesterday at our one-on-one session, and I am happy to report that not only did my first morning score improve by 10%, but in my second exam, it increased significantly by another 12%. More importantly (at least for me), I felt so much more relaxed and calm while taking the practice tests, even when I had several answers that I was unsure of. I will continue to use the techniques before and during each practice exam to see if I can more readily find my center and bring my comfort level up even more. 
Thanks again!!"

and after the exam:

"I wanted to let you know I took my exam on Tuesday...thank you so much for this opportunity to be a part of this "class." I would rather call it an experience - one that I hope to enhance and add to in the future. I learned a lot about myself through the exercises, which really helped me understand some of the frustrations and barriers that were getting in the way of my success.
I used some of the relaxation techniques during the exam, and I really believe they helped me to feel calm and to quiet my thoughts enough to focus on what I needed to accomplish.
I'm not sure how I did overall, but I'm glad it's over, and I know I did my best."

Background Information on Therapeutic Yoga in Medical Schools:
Academic Electives, Research and Clinical Applications

The George Washington University-Medical School offered
Therapeutic YOGA as an ELECTIVE
where all participants received 1:1 tutorials

As of September 2011, Introduction to Therapeutic Yoga garnered elective status;  55 students officially registered for our first semester offering.  Yoga for the Boards was offered for the spring semester. In fall 2012, 52 medical students and 20 MPH candidates , a total of 72 students pre-registered for the therapeutic yoga course.

Brain-child of Drs Regan Gage and Rohini Batu, the Medical Student Community Wellness Program offered therapeutic yoga as an extra-curricular activity throughout 2010-2011. Originally designed to take yoga into clinics in under-served communities, it has blossomed into a formal course that weaves functional anatomy and physiology with self-care, stress management and professional growth. 

With IRB approval of our research proposal, we gathered information to prove the efficacy of integrating yoga into lifestyles to improve quality of life for students.

The curriculum development and design reflect my deep appreciation of the enormous  challenges faced by medical students, in particular, and all young professionals stepping into the precarious world of health care today.

Yoga for Residency Programs

In the Fall of 2011, Yoga for Well-Being and Stress Reduction was presented at the 1st Year Residency Fall Retreat at GWU-School of Medicine and Health Sciences, providing meditative time for mindful inquiry and playful pursuit of personal comfort and interpersonal connection through Thai Yoga Massage.

I've been a presenter at the GWU-SMHS Chief Resident's Orientation as part of their Graduate Medical Education Program, on the subjects of self-care, mindful inquiry and intentional behaviors, as well as yoga as it applies to personal and professional development as well as leadership in a hospital setting.

Here are comments from the Assistant Director of Graduate Education:

"I am looking forward to seeing you again on Tuesday....what you did last year was perfect..."
                                                                         Mary M.    re: May 14, 2013

"I took some time this morning to go over the comments and I can tell you, your session was extremely well received. Some of the comments included:
Wish this was the last activity of the day, very relaxing
Bring her back
Great idea
I am positive we will use your services again in the future.
Mary M"

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