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This weekend, Rodney Yee used his influence to urge both the medical field and the yoga community to utilize one another’s resources. He called for more yoga in hospitals, and suggested that teachers get as much specialized training as possible. The program he and his wife, Colleen Saidman are part of is one that teaches doctors and nurses a simple sequence of yoga, breathing and meditation through Donna Karan’s Urban Zen Integrative Therapy Program.
Jillian and I have been talking to yoga teachers here on the West Coast. There’s no shortage of wanting to help veterans, there’s just an issue of how to find students. For all the training one has, outreach is a completely separate component. Outreach is 99% of the success of your efforts. I don’t think it’s enough to train people and then expect anyone to make inroads without either the insight or support.
The veteran community is not an unapproachable group requiring a million secret handshakes. But you do have to take the time to get to know them, and your efforts must be consistent. In other words, if you want to reach out to veterans, you will have to go to them. In every community there are groups –who either support the troops or are veterans. It’s a matter of contacting them and having a two-way conversation. You just can’t email them a press release, you really have to reach out to them, invite them to your studio –for a free class, and take it from there. And guess what? There is no reason to rush. Figure out what they need, and go from there.
Jillian and I have spoken about one of the roadblocks we see trauma sensitive yoga training programs falling into: thinking that their program is so special, it has to be at a retreat center that not only is difficult to get to, but means someone has to take several days off work to attend, plus spend quite a bit of money on airfare and lodging. With all the training programs taking place on the East Coast, this does not bode well for those on the West Coast.
Let me put it to you this way: most of the yoga teachers we know are itinerant. They teach at lots of places everyday, cobbling together a way to make a living. In Southern California, some drive 50-100 miles a day between home, and all the studios. Many live paycheck to paycheck. They simply can’t afford to take that time off in order to attend a training far away. Rent, car payments, groceries, and kids have to be fed.
The program that can get around this will be the one that most people end up taking. Smart will be the program that is scheduled over a weekend at a large hotel near an airport, hospital, wellness center, or college in a major metropolitan area that most can just commute to. Or the program that makes large portions of their program available as an online course –not necessarily a conference call. (This would involve developing a curriculum much like universities or the military already has, and uses for thousands each day). Why should a trauma sensitive yoga teacher’s training course be any different from a continuing education course held at a major medical center for nurses, physicians and other allied health professionals?
There are lots of issues to ponder. Yee’s call for more training and inclusion into medical institutions brings up other issues such as requirements and certification. What will be the new mold for a yoga teacher wishing to join a treatment team? Will a 200 or 500 yoga teacher training certificate be enough? Will hospitals show preference in hiring a yoga teacher who has a master’s degree in counseling, social work, kinesiology, or psychology? Who will set the requirements? Will states insist on credentialing and require a license to teach yoga in a clinical setting? Will yoga be billable under the ICD-9 (or ICD-10)?
Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, what will this mean for the yoga teacher who just wants to help local veterans at their studio (this will probably constitute the largest group). Is the yoga community heading toward more regulation or are we heading toward more sharing of information along social networks for free or a low cost?
It’s an exciting time. We look forward to an ongoing dialog.