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Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing [Format Kindle]

Timothy Mccall , Yoga Journal
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In this book, i’m asking you to think of yoga as medicine–a concept which is perhaps new and quite foreign to you. Because it is a kind of medicine that can benefit the healthy as well as the sick, I’m going to suggest that you consider starting a regular practice, no matter what your current state of health. You may have seen pictures of yoga contortionists or heard about grueling “power yoga” and “hot yoga” classes that convinced you this isn’t something you could possibly do. If so, I hope to show you that virtually anyone can do yoga, including those who start out with little strength, energy, or flexibility, and those who are ill or injured.

I say this not as a lifelong yoga teacher or someone who can readily bend his body into the shape of a square knot–I’m not, not by a long shot. I am a physician, a board-certified specialist in internal medicine, who came to yoga in middle age and found it–and continues to find it–incredibly challenging. But in this challenge, I have seen steady growth in what I can do and how good I feel. My body has changed in ways I wouldn’t have believedpossible, as has my mental state. The more I put into my yoga practice, the greater the rewards have become.

I signed up for my first yoga class in the same spirit that I’d brought to salsa dancing and tai chi. It was simply something interesting I’d heard about and decided to try. I didn’t come in with any kind of faith that yoga would change my life, but it did. At first my progress was slow. I studied yoga casually for a couple of years, making it to a class every other week or so. Due to my busy schedule, I never seemed to find the time to practice at home, even though my teacher, Patricia Walden, had said many times that fifteen or twenty minutes every day was much more valuable than a longer session once a week.

Like a lot of people who play competitive sports and never pay much attention to stretching, I’d started out incredibly stiff. I had great difficulty with even the most basic poses. With my legs straight, I couldn’t touch the floor with my fingertips. I couldn’t sit cross-legged without feeling discomfort in my upper back. I had difficulty just straightening my spine, let alone bending it backward. And even though I enjoyed the feeling of peace that class left me with those first two years, my body never became much more flexible. Then I made a decision: I was going to take a leap of faith.

I resolved to get up every morning for one year and practice yoga. I bought a mat, a strap, and a book describing the basic stretching, strengthening, and relaxation poses known as asana (pronounced AH-sah-nah). Even if my schedule was crazy and I could only fit in a few minutes, I’d do it. I started inserting yoga into the cracks in my day. If I was sitting at the computer or had a break between patients, I’d take a minute to stretch my arms over my head or bend forward, place my hands on the desk, and lengthen my spine for a few seconds. If I was on the road, I’d do asanas in my hotel room. I started to pay more attention to my body, noticing the way my shoulders tended to slump as I sat behind the wheel or read a book.

With regular practice, amazing things began to happen. After a few months, my chest started to open up. My friends and family noticed that my chronically slouching posture, from years of studying and computer work, was improving. The knots that I had thought were a permanent fixture in my upper back slowly melted away. I didn’t get injured as often as I used to. In the five years before starting yoga, I gave up basketball due to heel spurs and I lost a year of playing tennis due to an inflammation of my elbow. I’d noticed the twinges of pain that heralded a rotator cuff problem in my shoulder. Chronic pain in my Achilles tendon had me worried that I’d suffer the same kind of rupture I’d seen my
best friend go through. All of these problems are better now, and I suspect that if I’d been doing yoga all along, I might have avoided many of them completely.

Perhaps even more profound than yoga’s physical effect on me were the mental and psychological benefits. Once I developed a regular practice, I noticed a change in outlook. Problems didn’t seem to get to me as much. If I dropped a tray of ice cubes and they scattered across the kitchen floor, I didn’t blurt out words that would get beeped off network TV. I just laughed, shook my head, and cleaned up. I didn’t seem to worry as much. Without even consciously trying, more and more I seemed to be doing what yoga philosophy teaches: to give your best effort without being attached to the result.

Yoga also had an even deeper effect on me. A couple of years after starting yoga, I decided to leave direct patient care and devote myself full-time to research and writing. With the rise of the managed-care approach to medicine, I found it increasingly stressful as well as difficult to do what I thought was right for my patients. As the conveyor belt of care was sped up to cut costs, I wasn’t getting the chance to know patients as well as I wanted to, which greatly diminished one of the most satisfying aspects of doctoring. It’s not quite true to say that yoga led me to quit my medical practice, but yoga did put me in touch with an inner voice that was telling me, This isn’t working anymore.

It was ten years ago that I took that leap of faith. Since then I’ve continued to do yoga poses virtually every day and I’ve added breathing exercises known as pranayama (prahnai-YAH-mah), meditation, and other practices to my routine. My body has continued to change. I’ve gained muscle, lost fat, and become a lot more flexible. When I’m warmed up, I can stand with my legs straight and place my palms flat on the floor. I can do some poses that I used to think would never be possible, though there are still plenty of them– including backbends–that I have great difficulty with. But these markers of physical prowess aren’t what really counts.

What’s become more important to me is the mental peace that has come, the sense of gratitude, the gradual and sometimes sudden opening of some formerly inflexible area of my body or mind, and the feeling of community I’ve found with fellow students and teachers. Stepping out of the crazy, fast-paced world to pay close attention to what’s happening right then and there puts me in touch with a calm place deep inside me–deep inside all of us. It’s like the stillness on the ocean floor that remains undisturbed, no matter how frantically waves crash on the surface.

For the last several years, in addition to deepening my own yoga practice, I’ve been investigating the use of yoga for people suffering from a variety of medical conditions. My interest was originally sparked by all the stories I heard from people who said yoga had helped them deal with depression or back pain or a difficult transition into menopause.

The process of learning about yoga therapy, however, hasn’t been easy. For starters, there is no one place to acquire this knowledge; the yoga world is incredibly Balkanized. There are dozens of competing traditions, many of which don’t seem interested in sharing their discoveries with each other or the outside world. Complicating matters further, some of what I’ve heard from yoga teachers, or read in magazines, quite frankly defies modern understanding of anatomy and physiology, or is grounded in a metaphysics that can be off-putting or virtually incomprehensible. In addition, many yoga teachers with
much to offer are shy about touting yoga’s therapeutic potential–especially in writing–while others who in my estimation have far less substance boldly claim their brand of yoga can cure any disease.

Not to be deterred, I’ve read books, attended classes, workshops, and conferences, reviewed the scientific literature, and sought out some of the world’s leading yoga teachers and yoga therapists to find out what they’re doing and what they find most helpful. You’ll hear from many of these teachers in this book. I’ve also worked with my teacher, Patricia Walden, using yoga to treat people with such maladies as depression, breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. Although we didn’t do rigorous scientific studies, my strong impression based on years of clinical medical experience is that these students benefited enormously.

Patricia teaches a style of yoga known as the Iyengar method, named after the aging master B. K. S. Iyengar, and that’s the style we used in the therapeutic work we’ve done together. In my role as a writer and scientist interested in researching this field, however, I have taken workshops, had private therapy sessions, and learned from teachers in dozens of different styles. One of the most amazing things I have observed is that every system of therapeutic yoga I’ve looked at seems to help people heal.

Reflecting the multitude of good choices in therapeutic yoga, this book takes a pragmatic approach. It features yoga teachers from many different traditions using a broad range of approaches and tools. Every one of these yoga therapists brings decades of experience to the task.

Not all yoga styles are represented in this book. There are more approaches and teachers out there than it’s possible to research or include. Some omissions are deliberate because I do not believe that all systems of yoga, particularly those that are more physically demanding, are appropriate for people with serious disease. (This is not to criticize these styles of yoga for people who are fit and healthy. Many people love them and they have their place.)

Because this book is aimed at a Western audience and because I am a doctor, I use the language and perspective of science as...

Revue de presse

"Yoga as Medicine is a powerfully clear, accessible and practical guide to creating a vibrantly healthy body, mind, and spirit. What a tremendous contribution to healing and human potential!"—Joan Borysenko, PhD, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

“Read this to find out why we teach our patients YOGA.”—Mehmet Oz, MD, author of YOU: The Owner’s Manual and Professor and Vice Chairman, NY Presbyterian/ Columbia University Hospital

“Self-administered yoga therapy, taking your cues from a book or magazine, can be a tricky, even risky business. But Yoga as Medicine is the next best thing to having the doctor right there beside you. An instant classic.”—Richard Rosen, Contributing Editor, Yoga Journal and Director, Piedmont Yoga Studio

Yoga as Medicine is beautifully organized and presented, making it instantly readable and practical for anyone desiring better health or immediate help with a particular problem.”—Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

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Commentaires client les plus utiles
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A avoir dans sa bibliotheque 10 mai 2010
Par Sarasvati
Pour tous ceux et celles qui enseigne le yoga, ce manuel est un excellent ouvrage à avoir, car nombreux de vos élèves compteront sur le yoga pour les aider à se débarrasser de leurs maux. Il est clair par sa présentation et par ses explications. Il est aussi complet avec des explications scientifiques et une approche holistique pour soigner en plus des conseils yogiques. Aucun regret.
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur (beta) 4.7 étoiles sur 5  124 commentaires
241 internautes sur 244 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Everything I Ever Wanted In A Yoga Therapy Book 2 août 2007
Par Theresa Reed - Publié sur
I have been anticipating the release of this book ever since I saw an ad for it in Yoga Journal. It was touted as "indispensible" and for once, an ad delivered what it promised. Written by the medical editor of Yoga Journal, Timothy McCall M.D., "Yoga As Medicine" offers so much more than a regular book of asanas.

McCall starts by going into some detail about the science behind yoga - giving examples of how yoga can help heal the body. Although he is clear to state that yoga should not take the place of a doctor, he invites the reader to complement their current treatment with yoga. The author also gives good common sense strategies to doing yoga safely (I especially like the cautions about hands on adjustments - I have witnessed people being injured by overly assertive yoga instructors trying to "bend" people into a pose before the body was ready). I also enjoyed reading the chapter on choosing a style and a teacher. Here, McCall lists some of the most well known styles and gives some really good advice to help the reader choose a system that is suited for them.

The third part of the book is the real 'meat'- there are twenty chapters on specific health issues (ex: asthma, IBS, obesity, MS). For each chapter, an experienced yoga teacher (ex: Judith Hanson Lasater, Gary Kraftsow, Patricia Walden) gives their perspective on the issue and how they may have dealt with a student who had the condition. Real life examples are in the book but the author also states that these approaches may not necessarily be right for your condition (for instance, on page xii, he states that Lasater, who wrote the chapter on back pain, was using a case study with sciatica as her example - and may not recommend the featured routine for another student with back pain). Speaking of routines, each chapter also has a specific yoga routine for each condition with full illustrations as well as contraindications, modifications, suggestions, and an overview of the condition from a Western doctor's perspective. These details make the book comprehensive and well rounded.

Other nice features: an appendix on avoiding injury, details on anatomy, a plan for starting your home yoga practice, meditation techniques, and a sanskrit glossary. I also liked that he used not only famous yoga instructors, but a few lesser known but equally valuable teachers. McCall studies with Patricia Walden and there is a bit of a slant towards Iyengar style yoga, but other styles that have a therapuetic bent such as Viniyoga and Anusara are featured here too.

I heartily recommend this book not only to yoga instructors but to any practitioner, new or old! There is not another book like it and I'd rate it 10 stars if I could!
121 internautes sur 122 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A comprehensive medical approach to yoga 26 août 2007
Par G. A. BRAVO-CASAS - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
Dr. McCall is the medical editor of Yoga Journal and many readers are familiar with his excellent articles in that prestigious publication. In 2002, Yoga Journal asked Dr. McCall to write a book on yoga therapy, but he was already working on Yoga as Medicine for two years. The author is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and was a practicing physician for more than 12 years in the Boston area. At the beginning, Dr. McCall says that he approached yoga "in the same spirit that I'd brought to salsa dancing and tai chi", but then, as he was deepening into his practice, he began to notice important changes in his posture, his breathing, and many other aspects of his daily life. In 2000, he decided to devote himself full-time to investigate the value of yoga as a therapeutic instrument. He has visited many yoga centres and ashrams in the United States and India, exploring, asking students and instructors about the therapeutic value of their yoga practice, and collecting valuable information that is very difficult to access.

The book consists of three parts. Part 1: "Yoga as Medicine", makes a succinct presentation of the scientific basis of yoga and its contributions to health care. Part 2: " The Practice of Yoga", has numerous tips on how to establish a safe practice, how to choose a safe yoga style, and how to select a teacher. Part 3 " Yoga Therapy in Action", has 20 chapters devoted to a large array of conditions (arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, depression, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and many others). Dr. McCall, with information provided by leading yoga therapists, offers a brief overview of each condition, discusses in detail the scientific evidence of the contribution made by yoga to the treatment of the condition, and concludes with a series of recommended exercises appropriate for each condition, highlighting the benefits and the contraindications of each exercise. An appendix is devoted to the prevention of yoga injuries.

This book offers an unusual view of yoga. Dr. McCall uses crisp and clear language, his book is lucid and easy to understand, and scientific proofs are fully documented. Being both a competent physician and a skilled yoga practitioner who has explored many yoga traditions, Dr. McCall has the authority to disregard false claims from both sides and insists that a correct perspective is to recognize the complementarities of both approaches. He insists that yoga therapy is not a "magic bullet", but asserts that the characteristics of such therapy (being holistic, with increased effects over time, positive side effects, requiring patient's participation, major emphasis on prevention, etc.) makes yoga therapy ideal for the treatment of some chronic problems, such as diabetes, or arthritis. Dr. McCall is not hesitant to use many of the classical yoga terms (asanas, Pranayama, nadis, etc.), but he alerts us by affirming: "If notions like chakras and prana turn you off, just think of them as metaphors. We use this kind of metaphorical thinking in the West all the time... Good metaphors can help us understand, as yogis put it, 'what is' ". Many people remember his sense of humour from the video, Yoga Unveiled, which has a section on "Yoga as Therapy"; he mentions that on one occasion he was asked: "Will smoke get in the way of yoga?" and he replied "No, but if you are a smoker, yoga might get in the way of smoking."

The book is a treasure of information. It contains photographs of the exercises recommended for each condition. It has a comprehensive index, a list of Sanskrit words and names for the asanas, and a comprehensive list of sources of information, including the web sites of yoga therapists and institutions. This work is the best of its kind and it is the principal source of reference for those interested in discovering the therapeutic value of yoga. On the front cover of the book you will see the opinion of Dr. Mehmet Oz, Director of the Cardiovascular Institute of the New York Presbyterian Hospital: "Read this to find out why we teach our patients YOGA".
78 internautes sur 84 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 I'd like to stop the world and finish reading this book. 2 août 2007
Par estreeter4life - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
I've found an incredible tool here--one that gives hope to a middle-aged, out of shape person that there are real alternatives to western medicine. The scope is encyclopedic but not daunting. The individuals who demonstrate the exercises and poses did not step off a fashion runway; there are real people of all sizes. And unlike the recent article about yoga in Vanity Fair, McCall clearly recognizes that African-Americans practice yoga too. Perhaps if more people read Dr. McCall's book, the failing health system Michael Moore documents in his most recent film would at least be failing a smaller number of people. Thank you, Dr. McCall, for what will be an invaluable resource.
27 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Exceptional book for integrating yoga into general health and wellness 27 mars 2008
Par doctor_beth - Publié sur
Dr. Timothy McCall is a Western-trained physician and medical editor of Yoga Journal. In this book, he has put together an excellent book detailing the use of yoga as part of a holistic approach towards health and wellness. While his enthusiasm about the positive benefits which can be derived from yoga is strongly persuasive, and given his medical training, he makes a real effort to lay a scientific foundation for the efficacy of yoga.

The heart of Yoga as Medicine lies in Part 3, "Yoga Therapy in Action." In this section, Dr. McCall addresses twenty specific health conditions and concerns, ranging from Anxiety and Panic Attacks to Overweight and Obesity. For each chapter, Dr. McCall has chosen a yoga expert to present a potential approach to that condition. Many of the teachers he has selected are well-known names, including Judith Hanson Lasatar for Back Pain, Gary Kraftsow for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Rodney Yee for Headaches. In addition to the featured instructor, every chapter also includes "Other Yogic Ideas," which range from insights by other yoga instructors to supplementary yoga tools, and "A Holistic Approach," a boxed and bulleted segment which talks about combining yoga practice with various other factors in managing the conditions.

Overall, this is an exceptional, extremely well-done book which provides a compelling argument for integrating yoga into a holistic approach towards health and wellness; highly recommended!
26 internautes sur 27 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Valuable reference 23 septembre 2007
Par yogamama - Publié sur
Format:Broché|Achat vérifié
As a yoga instructor, I am always looking for new reference material to help me become a better teacher. This book is indispensible. It focuses on many of the problem areas that students in my classes have approached me about. It is clearly written, and easy to understand. The photographs and drawings are helpful, and the anatomical and physiological information is thoroughly presented.
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