Women’s Empowerment in an Age of Illness, Part 2

~Breathing in this life~

Women’s Empowerment in an Age of Illness, Part 2
What Yoga Can Do for You

by Ginger Garner MPT, ATC

Last month, I wrote about the health related reasons that cause women to be put at a remarkable disadvantage in the US. Now, it is time to discuss one of the best (and most inexpensive) solutions to give women a sense of empowerment and control over their well being.

Yoga’s Healing Power

One of the ways that women can be empowered to take control of their health (and life) is through the ancient holistic practice of yoga. It prevents and treats injury and illness, looking at health through a preventive and not just pathophysiological lens.

I have been teaching medical yoga (a blending of east and west medicine and therapies) for almost 20 years and have experienced first hand, as a clinician and as a woman, the amazing results that yoga’s power yields.

Medical yoga can:

• Reduce risk of CVD, cancers, stroke, and diabetes through introducing safe physical activity into your daily routine.
• Improve your diet, which also reduces the risk of CVD, certain cancers, obesity, and stroke when following an anti-inflammatory regimen.
• Reduce high blood pressure
• Reduce inflammatory processes in the body
• Reduce and manage stress.
• Reduce self-destructive behaviors.
• Help you lose and manage your weight.
• Manage orthopedic conditions such as low back and neck pain or tendinitis/sprains/strains.
• Reduce stress-related risk factors for disease.
• Stabilize your mood by calming the nervous system (through decreased sympathetic nervous system activity).
• Build body confidence, intelligence, and overall fitness.
• Improve your respiratory/lung health.
• Reduce risk of depression and anxiety disorders and their symptoms.
• In maternal health, reduce labor pains and risk of post-partum depression.
• In women’s health, reduce post-surgical complications such as scar adhesions, pelvic pain, and other chronic pain.
• Manage current chronic pain syndromes and ones related to it such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, and post- traumatic stress disorder.

Finding A Qualified Yoga Practitioner

When yoga is used as medicine, it is practiced by someone with extensive training in medical therapeutic yoga and a license in medicine or other medical therapy. Currently in the US, there is no license or certification that allows you to access yoga and have it covered by insurance, unless the yoga is delivered therapeutically in a medical setting by a licensed medical professional.

While there are no standards or licensing for yoga therapists or teachers in the US, there are voluntary standards set by Yoga Alliance.  However, they do not provide certification or guarantee of a teacher’s proficiency in yoga. They prepare a person to teach basic yoga to people with no existing health issues.

If you have a medical condition or illness, search for a licensed health care professional with dual training in medicine and therapeutic or medical yoga – here.

If you are a healthy individual with no pre-existing health conditions, search for a teacher on the voluntary YA registry here.

Why choose a licensed therapist for teaching yoga?

• The yoga used is evidence based. It is medically and scientifically grounded making it effective and safer for people with all kinds of medical conditions, including the natural state of pregnancy and post-partum.
• They are qualified to evaluate, treat, and refer to other medical specialists while looking at the entire person from both a western medical and holistic standpoint.
• They can use yoga combined with medical technology and methods to treat and prevent injury and illness.
• They are legally qualified and trained to work with people who have everything from minor sports injuries to serious illness and complex medical histories.
• They are trained to differentially diagnose. This means that they are trained to recognize precursors, signs, and symptoms of more serious illnesses that would require more complex medical attention.
• They are bound by law and their medical license – to first do no harm. They live and work by a medical code of ethics and have at least 4-6 years and in most cases 6-10 years of formal medical and medical yoga education.

If you do not have medical insurance, I encourage you to still contact these therapists. Many of them will work on a sliding scale and have programs in place that work with women (and men) who cannot afford treatment.

The best news of all is–your yoga treatment, when administered through a licensed medical professional, is usually covered by your insurance. You can find a therapist that is also a licensed medical practitioner here.

Low Cost & Free Yoga Resources

The base philosophy of yoga is that it should be accessible to all – just like health care.
Here are a few free and low cost resources for yoga.

Medical Yoga

Mayo Clinic Wellness Series – a series of yoga DVD’s for different ailments.
Breathing In This Life – a medical blog for women and mothers – download free breathing and yoga  practices
Yoga As Medicine – a text written by Timothy McCall, MD, which outlines postures and how they can improve your health and help treat specific health conditions.
Ancient Yoga, New You – a medical yoga DVD by physical therapist, Ginger Garner, MPT, ATC for anyone suffering from physical or emotional pain. It is based on a three year research study conducted with a very pleasant middle aged woman suffering from multiple chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, and weight problems.

General Yoga

Holistic Online – Yoga – general yoga and Ayurvedic advice
Yoga Journal – a popular magazine offered online giving general yoga advice


1. American Heart Association.
2. US Dept. of Health and Human Services 2006. Women’s Health USA 2007 report.
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. Overweight and obesity. June 2004. www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/obesity. Viewed 4/16/07.
4. Over my years of research, teaching, and writing in medical therapeutic yoga, I have compiled hundreds of scientific references which support the plethora of benefits yoga provides. For systemic benefits of yoga, there are 77 preliminary studies published in peer-reviewed medical journals I source.
More research on yoga and CVD


Ginger Garner MPT, ATC — is an educator and subject matter expert in medical therapeutic yoga and women’s health. As a published author and sought after speaker, Ginger pens the popular blog for mothers — Breathing In This Life (BITL –which is one of the columns in Yang-Sheng magazine and network).  Ginger is founder of Professional Yoga Therapy (PYT), the first education program for Complementary and Alternative Medicine practice in medical therapeutic yoga in the US.  Ginger’s focus is on education and activism for maternal and child health – through BITL, her school, PYT, through the organization she founded for Haiti relief in 2009, Musicians 4 Missions, and her work with the Initiative to Educate Afghan Women.   Ginger has spoken and performed across the US to educate people about medical yoga and to raise awareness and funds for improving women’s health.   As a working mother of three she has learned a thing or two about finding work/life balance through the healing arts, which she shares through BITL, at www.gingergarner.blogspot.com.  See Ginger’s work at www.gingergarner.com.






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