Yoga therapy as part of integrative pain management: Valuable, meaningful, purposeful
Major Adhana McCarthy, PA-C, C-IAYT, has served 18 years in the U.S. Army, 11 of those years as a physician assistant. She is also an IAYT-certified yoga therapist and a long-time advocate for integrative and lifestyle medicine.
When Maj. McCarthy was a child, her father was ill with rheumatoid arthritis and managed his condition with careful lifestyle choices about stress management, exercise, and diet. In college, McCarthy began a committed daily yoga practice, which she brought with her while deployed in Iraq and then shared with her fellow soldiers to help them manage stress.
Now McCarthy is the director of public health at Irwin Army Community Hospital. In addition to providing care to the military community, she studies health behaviors, stress, and resilience in these populations. She knows yoga’s value as therapy from firsthand experiences with pain, illness, and stress. In this video she briefly discusses yoga therapy as part of an innovative patient-centered approach to pain, stating,
“In the Department of Defense we often will use yoga therapy as part of the integrated pain management programs once somebody has gone through [and exhausted] all the traditional forms of managing pain.”
Why do yoga publications continue to use that stock photo of the old white man with his knees up to his ears and a rounded back? I’d expect it of other, less informed publications, but IAYT needs to do better!
Thanks for your comment, Coty—this is an important discussion!
We love this photo because it shows how many yoga students and yoga therapy clients actually look. It serves as a nice reminder, too, that although the postures of yoga asana are the gateway for many people, they’re an entry point to a complete practice that involves the mind and the spirit as well as the body. One need not be able to do fancy poses or have a certain level of flexibility to engage in a meaningful, effective yoga practice.