The professions of Yoga and Yoga therapy need more research and more academic rigor (in our trainings and service delivery) in order to be able to both empower people to improve their health and to influence public policy around health care. Yoga needs to be championed as a complete system that can address public health in the domains of treatment, prevention, aftercare/reclaiming and health promotion. And as a key modality in improving health outcomes through person-centered, non-sectarian spiritual engagement.
Yoga has a PR problem. It has been confined to, relegated and/or co-opted by the fitness industry and this has misled the public. I believe that until yoga’s technology is able to be accessed by those who are at greatest risk for chronic and/or mental illness and substance abuse – those who may not have access to yoga services as they are currently provided – reductions in the health gradient will continue to elude us as a society.
Yoga is a cost-effective, evidence-based, person-centered, preventative modality which can be adapted to be provided across the sectors and thereby profoundly shift public health. For this to happen, we need better trained professionals (in the field itself, not only in established allied health fields) to be able to provide services, conduct research and train the workforce.