A look back on yoga at conferences in 2021: Part 1

Each year yoga research contributes to holistic, innovative ways of approaching health and well-being. Research conferences throughout the year showcase progress in the field and offer inspiring insights into the mechanisms of yoga’s benefits.  

In 2021, IAYT members saw yoga research presented at a wide range of online and in-person conferences. Some reported on these conferences in Yoga Therapy Today. Here’s a snapshot of conferences that took place in the first half of 2021.

The Maryland University of Integrative Health Research Symposium kicked things off on April 9. “MUIH has always been an innovator in the field of integrative medicine (IM),” reported Ekaterina Ryabova, MS, C-IAYT. “It was a fantastic experience to be a part of this online event that highlights the best of the University’s research and contribute to the growing field of yoga therapy in the midst of the public health crisis.” Among other things, Ryabova shared that a presentation on a worksite wellness intervention, YOU Wellness, was inspiring. “This program demonstrated that even the simplest form of yoga, breathing practices, and meditation have compelling benefits on employee well-being.”

Later that month, the National Ayurvedic Medical Association held its annual conference. Presentation themes included integrative approaches in healthcare and the benefits of using ayurveda and yoga concurrently. Conference reporter Lou Haber shared this quote from Susan Bass, AP- and AYT-NAMA, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, in her presentation about this approach: “Ayurveda excels at digestion and detoxification, so it is about improving the quality of blood,” noted Bass. “That’s why ayurveda and yoga are exponentially more effective when practiced together, because who cares if you have the blood moving around the body when it is of poor quality and does not nourish the cells and the organs?” 

Yoga was lightly represented at the Integrative Pain Management Conference in May, and reporter Shelly Prosko, PT, C-IAYT, was most moved by patient advocates who shared their stories of healing. She noted that yoga therapists are uniquely positioned to support clients in pain. “[W]e as yoga therapists can easily contribute now to the change in pain care that’s needed with something as simple (yet profound) as being present, bearing witness, and providing hope,” Prosko emphasized. “This is one of our strengths as a profession.”

The Symposium on Yoga Therapy and Research (SYTAR) is IAYT’s annual 3-day conference held in June that fosters personal and  professional development for yoga therapists and those interested in deepening their connections in the field. “Throughout the weekend, morning and evening practice sessions provided participants with opportunities to dive deep into classes for healthy aging, pain care, and yoga for burnout,” reported Dawn Miller, MA, C-IAYT. “Concurrent tracks on Friday and Saturday featured presentations on specialty topics like cancer care, yoga therapy for amputations, motivational interviewing, and providing yoga therapy for the under-resourced in one’s community.” More than 900 attendees with backgrounds in yoga, ayurveda, healthcare, education, research, and more tuned in from around the world. Due to the virtual format, sessions were recorded and are available for purchase.

IAYT members: Read the full reports in the Summer 2021 issue of Yoga Therapy Today.

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