On August 22-26, 2012, Colorado’s Copper Mountain Resort hosted the 2nd Annual Mountain Pose Medicine and Yoga Symposium, where medical practitioners, yoga teachers and wellness enthusiasts came together to learn about the remarkably positive effects of yoga on health. For four days participants gathered for an ambitious schedule of didactic lectures interspersed with “hands on” yoga classes, giving them a chance to both learn about and experience the benefits of yoga.
The conference provided an impressive line-up of speakers that included Sara Gottfried, MD, a Harvard-educated physician; Satkirin Khalsa, MD, an integrative physician who is also trained in medical acupuncture; and James Weber, MD, a retired general surgeon who now teaches yoga. Topics covered the benefits of yoga for stress management, longevity, musculoskeletal health, the neuroendocrine system, cardiovascular disease, brain health, low back pain and oncology. In addition, participants were treated to chocolate and wine during a special presentation on heart health by David Romanelli, who quoted a Chinese proverb, “Enjoy yourself; it’s later than you think.”
The overall message of the conference is that lifestyle changes make a big impact on physical, mental and spiritual health and should often be considered instead of or in addition to medications. Yoga is a practice that enhances all three aspects of life and is increasingly being recommended and even “prescribed” by medical practitioners. Now there are significant scientific studies available, as presented at this conference, which validate the ancient wisdom of yoga for the enhancement of health.
The fact that this conference even exists tells us that the landscape of conventional Western medicine is changing before our very eyes. No longer can mainstream medical providers reject alternative and complementary therapies for being “non-scientific.” Copious studies are being conducted all around the world that support the use of many of these practices, especially yoga, for the maintenance of wellbeing and the treatment of disease.
But patients who are interested in alternative therapies may have to find out for themselves who to see and what types of care to pursue, because many conventional medical practitioners are still uninformed about other treatment modalities. Some insurance companies are now covering alternative and complementary medicine, however, so doctors may soon be forced to catch-up with the times and become familiar with these options.
That’s where conferences like the Medicine and Yoga Symposium come in. While attendance was small this year, conference organizers Erin Woods and Dr. Satkirin Khalsa are confident that the symposium will continue to grow in the future. They plan to keep making their message available to medical practitioners around the country who are ready to learn and embrace new thinking about ancient practices.
If you are a medical provider with an open mind and heart, get yourself a yoga mat and pencil in late August 2013 for the 3rd Annual Medicine and Yoga Symposium. You will find yourself dazzled, stretched, enlightened and inspired by what you learn – and that’s just the type of “healthcare reform” we will need a lot more of in the future.