A look back on yoga at conferences in 2021: Part 2

From August through November of 2021, we saw yoga therapy and research presented at conferences focused on COVID-19 challenges, integrative medicine, accessibility, and implementation. Some IAYT members reported on these conferences in Yoga Therapy Today. Here’s a snapshot of what they shared.

The Global Yoga Therapy Day Conference took place from August 13–15 in Melbourne, Australia, and online. The conference “featured 108 doctors, researchers, and yoga therapists who have collectively worked for many years to create a seat at the table for yoga therapy amid the shift toward person-centered care,” reported Kelly Couturier, MS, C-IAYT. Keynote speakers called for adapting and adjusting yoga to pressing needs like COVID-19 and systemic racism. “Ingrid Yang, MD, JD, C-IAYT, said that yoga is uniquely suited as an adjunctive therapy for COVID-19 patients in recovery thanks to its efficacy in reducing inflammation,” Couturier shared. Additionally, “looking at COVID-19 through the lens of systemic racism and inequality, Priya Verma, PA-C, MSPA, C-IAYT, and Charlene Muhammad, CNS, LD, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, called on yoga therapists and all healthcare workers to help rebuild broken trust between communities and to look inward and examine implicit biases.”

In September IAYT was proud to be a sponsor at the Integrative Medicine for the Underserved (IM4US) conference. The conference theme was “Decolonizing Medicine: Toward Equity and Inclusivity in Integrative Healthcare,” and Michelle Bowles, LMT, C-IAYT, and Shanchoy Mahajan, E-RYT 200, RYT-500, reported. “Overall, this conference emphasized the potential of integrative medicine to fill gaps in allopathic medicine. It was heartening to see the progress in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in language use and presentation—including pronouns and land acknowledgments, paying respect to teachers and source cultures, and declarations of privileges and blind spots.” Bowles and Mahajan also expressed that they were struck by the lack of knowledge about yoga therapy in some spaces—and emphasized continued collaboration and education about the role of yoga therapy as a complementary modality moving forward. 

At the Accessible Yoga Conference Online in October, a group of 50 presenters addressed ethics and equality in yoga. Marie Prashanti Goodell, RYT-500, C-IAYT, reported. “Workshop presenters covered topics on yoga and ayurveda, pranayama, body-mind integration, and self-compassion. Other sessions focused on yoga for specific conditions (diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease), populations (e.g., able or disabled, blind and low vision), and communities (among them, LGBTQ+ and individuals in prison). Panel discussions explored online communities, buzzwords, yoga and diet, and yoga access in healthcare.” Goodell also shared that a preconference intensive “explored whiteness in yoga, the loss and grief felt by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color, and steps toward rebuilding and maintaining wholeness.” 

November’s Symposium on Yoga Research—the West’s foremost academic yoga conference—featured presenters and attendees from across the globe. Keynote presenters Susan-Bauer Wu, Phd, RN, and Sona Dimidjian, PhD, emphasized how contemplative practices like yoga can support human connection and flourishing. Manjunath Sharma, PhD, presented a bounty of research showing how yoga can benefit those in unique places and situations—like those who work on expeditions in Antarctica. Research presentations homed in on this theme: To expand its reach, yoga and yoga research must consider the needs and preferences of the communities it hopes to benefit. This includes working with the individuals in these communities while designing and implementing yoga interventions.

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

Not a member yet? Join IAYT today for full access to Yoga Therapy Today.