Rx: Prescription Yoga

Recently, I have been seeing more and more examples on social media of yoga being prescribed by medical doctors as medicine. Prescription yoga, yes please!

As someone who teaches yoga for a living and owns a yoga studio I think that is incredible and is a much needed breathe of fresh air.  There are many ways to support restoring and maintaining health and I’m happy to see mainstream medical professionals starting to acknowledge yoga as one of them.

I have certainly had my fill of pharmaceutical commercials bombarding my TV watching time.  No, I wont ask my doctor about your (insert long list of negative side affects) medication the next time I’m in her office. It’s such an odd concept that pharmaceutical companies think I should be asking my doctor for more drugs.

According to what I have been seeing, medical doctors across the country are in fact prescribing yoga as treatment for all kinds of things. I love reading that it is becoming more commonplace,  and I wondered how often is it really happening?  Would any one of us really come in contact with a medical professional who would write prescription yoga?

 It Happened to Me

As many of you know we recently returned home from our first Yoga Cruise. It was beyond incredible and exceeded our expectations in every way. When we disembarked in Tampa, I had that familiar swaying or rocking feeling that can accompany getting off a boat of any size. This is really common and typically goes away within a matter of hours. Well hours passed. We unpacked  our luggage, went to Publix to replenish groceries and the rocking feeling persisted. Allowing optimism to prevail,  I went to bed knowing it would be easily resolved with a good night sleep.

The next morning, I awoke to the same movement as if I was on a boat in the middle of a category 4 hurricane,  so I called my doctor. She prescribed a medicine called Meclizine which was essentially a prescription variety of  Dramamine.

The weekend goes by and nothing has changed. Monday morning I call my doctor again. She is surprised that her kicked up Dramamine does not do the trick and now believes it must be an inner ear infection and prescribes a biggie dose of steroids. I’m not a fan of steroids. This now feels like it’s going from bad to worse. The pitching and swaying of my surroundings has become so bad that walking and standing are difficult.

Two scrips later and now an ENT

Five days pass, I finish my steroids and nothing has changed. With two failed attempts at healing, my doctor, who I really love and trust sends me to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist.

I meet the ENT, tell him the entire story; cruise ship, rocking all over the place, category four hurricane raging on my insides for over two weeks. He nods knowingly and tells me that I have Mal de Debarquement syndrome. According to WebMD, Mal de Debarquement is French for “disease of disembarkment”, and is a relatively rare condition that makes you feel like you are rocking or swaying even when you are not. It can happen to anyone, but is more common in women ages 30-60.  Feelin’ pretty special right about now!

He tells me that it should go away in 2-3 weeks.  As I am already on the end of two weeks, he believes that in the following week I could begin to feel better. However if I do not, I will need to go to an even more  impressive specialist. I think, no thank you, then ask him, “What can I do to get better? What can I do to tip the odds in my favor to heal without more meds?” His answer, do Yoga. He continued, “challenging your balance will restore your equilibrium and help you heal”.

Prescription Yoga

Um, seriously? I literally burst out laughing and tell him that that is definitely something I can do. He goes on to explain that the next specialist will  prescribe balance exercises such as yoga as a healing method for what he has already diagnosed. He believes yoga will help.  I leave his office smiling ear to ear because the specialist I was so nervous to see has just prescribed yoga as a healing tool. I can do that.

It had actually happened to me, a medical professional prescribed yoga instead of one more medication. I realize that this came after I had bombarded my body with hopped up Dramamine and ‘Roids but the entire experience still left me feeling  incredibly optimistic because it happened at all. Being prescribed yoga happened to me  in St Petersburg, Florida which tells me it will happen again and again all over the United States. That’s a start and I’ll take it.

That week I returned to yoga class with the intention of helping myself heal. By the end of the next week my constant internal movement, pitching & swaying had gone away and I was once again feeling balanced and secure.

Yoga does indeed heal and I am so happy and grateful to have been given the opportunity to try yoga as a healing tool. Prescription yoga is one that I didn’t mind filling.

Interested in learning more? Here are two articles about the healing potential of yoga.

From the Mat to The Clinic: Yoga Enters Mainstream Medicine

New Study Shows Yoga Has Healing Power

How Yoga Heals

Mal de Debarquement info from WebMD


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