Did you know that yoga, according to the NIH, is the fourth most commonly utilized Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM)? Just behind breathing exercises and meditation, which, (at the risk of sounding like Captain Obvious here) are also aspects of yoga. There is a strong and growing interest in yoga, beyond the fitness benefits, and also a growing body of research proving yoga’s efficacy in everything from depression to back pain to protecting the brain against the challenges of aging.
Health professionals are starting to refer their patients to yoga teachers and therapists. But who do they refer to? They may be telling their patients, “Do yoga, it will help your back pain, anxiety, weight issues, etc.” but we all know that if they are not referring their patients to the right yoga classes or teachers, they could be getting the wrong yoga for their condition, or worse, getting injured.
Here are 4 Tips for Making Yourself an Invaluable Resource to Health Care Providers and Getting Lots of Referrals:
- Be the Industry Expert
Let’s face it, doctors, nurses, or even physical therapists are not the best professional to refer their patients to the right yoga teacher or therapists. You are! You know what’s going on in your locality – you know who specializes in yoga for back pain, anxiety or heart conditions. You know how to refer. If you set yourself up with local healthcare providers with a page on your website, a business card and a willingness to offer each of their patients a 10 minute free phone consult, you can become the local go-to expert for referring to the right yoga class or individual teacher. If you are the referring expert, you will also be the first avenue in for all those potential clients and you can decide who you want to see, and who you want to refer to a better suited yoga professional.
- The Doctor is not In, So Talk to the Office Manager
It’s not easy to get a doctor to listen to you. They have crazy busy schedules with lots of people vying for their time. It’s much easier to get the attention of the office manager. Find which practices have high volumes of people in your specific field of interest, then target that practice specifically. Don’t just call or send an email. Show up in person, with your business cards, a one pager explaining what you offer, and a link to your website. If you can’t get in with the Office Manager right away, ask if you can make an appointment. Explain to the Office Manager the benefits of your approach to yoga and the need for their office to have a liaison between themselves and the yoga professionals in your area. And please don’t stop at just one office – you may need to knock on 10 doors before one opens! Once you are in the door, cultivate the relationship – stop by every couple of months to remind them of your valuable service. Ask them to call you to make an appointment while the patient is right there in their office. You may even want to suggest that the office try to find you a space to see clients right on their premises. Before you get started with this step:
- Study the Industry Trends
You should have some idea about what’s going on in the medical world – not only locally but also in the industry. Did you know, for example, that integrative medicine is now considered the gold standard in treating chronic pain? If you know something like this, coupled with the fact that yoga is now the fourth most popular CAM modality, you have a strong case for convincing healthcare professionals that they should use you to help them refer to appropriate yoga classes and teachers. Lots of other trends like Primary Care Medical Homes, integrated care, the push toward increasing patient self-management and family engagement are all pointing to the increased use of CAMs. If you are on top of the trends in the industry, you will be speaking the language of healthcare providers and be able to position yourself as the yoga industry expert.
- Increase your Training!
Here’s the reality – in any profession, 200 hours of study is pretty bare bones. Often dental assistants and CNAs have longer trainings. Yoga professionals are generalists – we need to know many things about a broad area of topics. And if you are specializing as well (which is a great idea if you want to get referrals), you have so many opportunities to increase your knowledge base in that specific area. Our RYT500 Therapeutics Training is a research-driven systematic training in the physical, mental/emotional and spiritual areas where yoga teachers can provide excellent CAM care. We also have a great module on this very topic – connecting with the medical community and getting referrals.
I hope this helps you see yourself as a great resource for the medical community – you are! And there are so many opportunities for you to help bring yoga to people who may otherwise not have the chance to experience the elegant healing power of our practice. Namaste.