Yoga Therapy: An Emerging Field

In just a few weeks, the International Association of Yoga Therapy (IAYT) will be holding its annual research conference in Massachusetts. The Symposium on Yoga Research (SYR) showcases some of the latest research in yoga therapy, including keynote speakers, invited oral presentations and poster sessions.

This year, the keynote speakers include Helene Langevin, MD, who is the Director of the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at Harvard Medical School (HMS). The Osher Center’s strategic vision is to build a "center without walls," consisting of a network of integrative medicine research, education and patient care throughout HMS, with ties to other national and international centers of integrative medicine. Dr. Langevin is currently studying the effects of movement-based therapies for low back pain, and will be speaking on "Connective Tissue, Stretching, and Yoga."

Another keynote speaker this year is Frederick Hecht, MD, who is the Director of Research at the Osher Center at UCSF. With over 30 years of practicing yoga and meditation, Dr. Hecht is currently studying the effects of meditation on our metabolic and immune systems, and will be addressing what we can learn from mindfulness research.

Therapeutic Yoga has much to offer in the prevention and management of chronic diseases, which consume three quarters of every dollar spent on health care, or 75% of our health care budget. Rigorous research emerging from Centers of Integrative Medicine around the world is providing the evidence base that is essential for propelling this emerging field forward. Additionally, it highlights the need for yoga teachers to evolve from teacher to healer, becoming well-trained yoga therapists prepared to serve their own neighborhoods, building health communities one breath at a time.