Medical Therapeutic Yoga & Physical Therapy mean better self-care and better patient care.
Self-care is more critical than ever – for every individual, for our communities, and particularly for those of us who work in health care. As Audre Lorde said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. It is self-preservation.”
The truth is – we need to be able to nourish ourselves before we can show up for others and help them on their wellness journey. Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY) teaches us how to do that through evolving yoga and combining it with physical therapy. They work synergistically to meet the needs of my telehealth population.
Medical Therapeutic Yoga empowers healthcare practitioners with pragmatic tools to replenish our inner reserves, which are so easily depleted as we pour our attention and care on to those we help.
Since implementing the MTY approach in my own daily life, I have never felt more balanced, vital, and well. I carry that vitality and joy from my personal practice into my treatment sessions with patients.~Dr. michelle walendowski PT, DPT
Medical Therapeutic Yoga and has transformed my physical therapy practice.
The combination of Medical Therapeutic Yoga (& its Lifestyle Medicine) and physical therapy have taught me to effectively provide biopsychosocial care. I can now confidently and competently address issues such as nutrition, sleep, environmental factors,
physical activity, and stress management. As opposed to taking a traditional biomedical approach – looking myopically at a person’s injury or symptom – I can provide more impactful care by addressing psycho-emotional/social, intellectual, energetic, spiritual, and physical factors through the Pentagon of Wellness biopsychosocical model. I know why and how to address each of these factors to treat the whole person, not just the diagnosis.
Medical Therapeutic Yoga training has given me a solid, evidence-based framework with which to intervene in a way that makes significant and lasting improvements for my patients.
As a DPT providing solely telehealth, I have been delightfully surprised at the improvements my patients have made in just a few sessions using MTY. The virtual format necessitates empowering my patients, teaching them how to self-treat. Following the FMA, I start with the breath. I have seen unprecedented compliance with the IHP, and significant improvements in all of my patient’s pain and function levels in as little as 2-3 treatments.
Medical Therapeutic Yoga is the missing link I have been searching for to bridge my clinical practice and my dharma.
Previously I felt disconnected, as if my true self was the
“yoga” version, while my “PT” persona felt too cold and clinical. With MTY these seemingly disparate approaches are unified, and I can authentically treat patients in a way that serves their highest good while remaining true to my highest values.
The MTY method confirms with living, breathing evidence what scientific research has found; that “in both healthy and diseased populations, yoga may be as
effective or better than exercise at improving a variety of health-related outcome measures including HRV, blood glucose, blood lipids, salivary cortisol, and oxidative stress”1
MTY can revolutionize healthcare. It is more imperative than ever to spread awareness of this method, not only to better serve our patient populations, but to mitigate burnout among healthcare providers.
“The issue of clinician burnout has become a major area of concern across health care.”2
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine reported in 2019 that 54% of U.S. nurses and physicians have substantial symptoms of burnout.”2
As stated by Leanne Loranger at the 2018 FSBPT Annual Meeting, to address burnout among healthcare practitioners, “both system change and individual action are required. Strategies…should be applied to the workplace and to the
individual, taking a two-pronged approach to address burnout by addressing contributing factors to burnout and acting to achieve increased work engagement”3
I believe MTY can play a major role in reducing and preventing burnout among healthcare practitioners, ultimately facilitating wellness among this population that spends so much energy caring for others.
MTY is an agent of change on both individual and systemic levels. I encourage practitioners to take this Integrative, Lifestyle Medicine approach to improve outcomes across all populations while practicing self-care.
Michelle Walendowski is a doctor of physical therapy, professional yoga therapist candidate (Level I & II certified) and is the owner of Blue Crane Physical Therapy & Yoga in Gig Harbor, WA. Visit her on Insta.
- Ross A, Thomas S. The Health Benefits of Yoga and Exercise: A Review of Comparison Studies. The Journal of Alternative
and Complementary Medicine. 2010;16(1)3–12 doi:10.1089=acm.2009.0044
- Elliot, T. Understanding and Avoiding Burnout. APTA Magazine. 2020; 12(10)20-31.
- Loranger L. , PT, MHM, Manager, Policy + Practice, Physiotherapy Alberta – College + Association and Nancy Kirsch, PT,
DPT, PhD, FAPTA, President, Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy, at the 2018 FSBPT Annual Meeting.