Yoga as a complementary therapy 

We’re encouraged by the continued emergence of Yoga as a complementary therapy

Lisa Grauaug from The Yoga Institute was recently invited to speak at NICM Health Research Centre (Western Sydney University Westmead campus) as part of a Women’s Health Program hosted by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). The theme of this professional development training for GPs was “Integrative approaches for managing menopause and menstrual disorders.”

The focus was to present the latest and best practice in integrative medicine recommendations for GPs, when working with patients who present with reproductive related conditions.

The conditions presented included menstrual disorders, polycystic ovarian syndrome and menopause. The therapies presented included acupuncture, use of oral natural health supplements, and mindfulness practices such as yoga.

The speakers presented the best available evidence on efficacy and or effectiveness of these integrative therapies to help GPs make informed decisions in managing these women’s health conditions.

Research into efficacy of Yoga for women’s health

The research that was presented demonstrated that Yoga is emerging as a complementary therapy that is effective, natural and safe, to bring therapeutic relief from a number of symptoms associated with reproductive related conditions.

For example, a systematic review of the Journal of Midwifery Womens Health (2018) – including 378 articles; 8 randomised controlled trials (RCT); & quasi-experimental studies – found that Yoga showed statistically significant improvements for quality of life measures including reduced physical pain, increased sleep, improved concentration, reduced negative feelings, and more.

Also a randomised control trial by Jorge, et al 2016 found that Hatha Yoga (body-based mindfulness practices) significantly reduced menopausal symptoms and improved quality of life.

Experiential learning enhances understanding

As part of this professional development day Lisa was asked to guide the GPs through a simple mindfulness and yoga based practice for them to experience the effect of yoga first hand, and to enable them to have a better understanding of the principles of yoga therapy and mindfulness.

Lisa says: “The timing of the experiential session was perfect. Everyone had been sitting for some time and engaging in a simple practice helped to energise and re-engage the group.”

The practice shared was simple, educative and focused on bringing awareness to self. The session also included discussion around the mechanics of natural breathing and how yoga can assist with this, including mindfulness of breath through the use of ujjayi and simple breath and postural movements.

Lisa also shared information about the professional training required to become a Yoga Teacher and Yoga Therapist. The group also wanted to learn more about how a Yoga Therapist may work with someone who presents with reproductive issues. Guidelines around this process were provided.

Feedback and looking forward

The session received great feedback from the attendees and the event organisers: “Thank you Lisa so much for your excellent session at the workshop.Your session definitely had a very big part to play on the day – there was a palpable change in the audience afterwards, who were energised and engaged. I personally enjoyed it very much as well.” (Dr Carolyn Ee)

Lisa says: “The experiential session was really well received and the group appeared to be more awake and aware following the practice.”

“All in all the day went very well, the audience were receptive and it was very encouraging to see how interested these GPs were in understanding Yoga as a complementary therapy”.

“This was a great opportunity to have an open dialogue with General Practitioners. I believe this type of collaboration is important to help GPs provide patients with the latest and best practice across an array of health care modalities. I am confident that these GPs will now consider Yoga Therapy as an option for their patients.”

“I was also really pleased to have the chance to share that Yoga is more than a body-based practice and that mindfulness is the foundation and core of a Yoga Practice, something that often gets lost in our modern understanding of what Yoga is all about.”

The Yoga Institute acknowledges the Cammeraygal people of the Eora nation as the Traditional Custodians of the land on which our centre is based.

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