10 Ways Integrating Yoga Changed My Practice as a Physical Therapist

10 Ways Integrating Yoga Changed My Practice as a Physical Therapist

By Chrys Kub, PT, E-RYT 500, Program Director Holistic Yoga Therapy Institute

I have been practicing physical therapy since 1987. It has always been my passion to work with persons with physical disabilities. I have been fortunate throughout my career to do just that, working in a physical rehabilitation hospital for many years with persons who have suffered from spinal cord injury, brain injury and strokes, both adults and children. Watching them progress and transform during therapy whether their situation was from a traumatic incident or a state of being from birth was life changing. When I moved into practicing more orthopedics I found it to be less transformative and frankly a bit unrewarding. But even with my neurological patients, I felt there was something missing in my therapeutic approach. I believe integrating the principles of yoga into my practice was that missing piece. Here are 10 things I learned from my yoga teachers along the way about yoga therapy which has helped me grow in my practice and better serve both populations.

  1. The most important thing is "relationship”. If you create a relationship with your patient, all the rest will take care of itself. Matthew Sanford , Iyengar Yoga Instructor, Paraplegic
  2. As you work with a client, step back and wait. Be patient and let the process and the pose happen. Leeann Carey Yapana Yoga Creator, Yoga therapist
  3. I am not a yoga therapist, yoga is therapy. Leslie Kaminoff; Yoga Teacher, Yoga Anatomy Instructor
  4. It is important to focus not just on treating the symptoms, but finding the cause and treating the imbalances from that. Shirley Sahrmann, Physical Therapist
  5. Let’s change our paradigm from "doing to” to "being with” our patients and empower them to take part in their healing. Matthew Taylor, PhD Physical Therapist Founder of Dynamic Systems Rehab
  6. Yoga Nidra is a type of guided relaxation which can help those who have suffered from trauma, physically or emotionally. Richard Miller, Founder of iRest Yoga Nidra
  7. It is not only the patients who benefit from the integration of yoga therapeutics into the treatment, but the caregivers.
  8. Kids love yoga, especially the kids over 5 who have been "therapized” their whole life.
  9. We don’t need to "fix” anyone, everyone is perfect as they are. Leeann Carey, Yoga Therapist
  10. Before you open the door to greet your patient for their session, pause, take a deep breath and center yourself so you can be present with them in that moment. Brandon Scot, Occupational Therapist Assistant

Physical therapy is an art and a science. We need to remember that our patients are not just their "diagnosis” but people, just like us, who are suffering. They come to us seeking guidance. If we can work with them together towards healing, we may not find the "cure” but we can help them learn to live with what is. Take the time to find out about their lifestyle, their mindset and how they view the world. As you build relationship, you create trust. Together you can come up with a treatment plan which helps them on all levels, physically, emotionally and mentally. I know that when I got into this profession, it was not to treat an "ACL” or a "brain injury”, but to treat people. If that was your intention as well, then consider integrating yoga therapy into your practice. You will be amazed at what happens.

Chrys Kub, PT, ERYT 500 has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 10 years, and training yoga instructors throughout the US in therapeutic yoga. She has studied with many of the masters in therapeutic yoga including Mukunda Stiles, Doug Keller, Susie Aldous Hately, and Leeann Carey. Chrys is a practicing physical therapist and yoga therapist, Program Director for Holistic Yoga Therapy Institute and a Member of the International Association of Yoga Therapists. She has taught and inspired yoga teachers throughout the US focusing on how to expand the therapeutic benefits of yoga for both themselves and their students. Through her trainings, Chrys will show both the student and the teacher how to observe themselves and their students, honoring each person’s unique capabilities and limitations, enabling aspiring teachers to create both their personal practice and style of teaching. Join Chrys, to further develop and explore your unique practice.