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Medical Therapeutic Yoga, The Perfect Lifestyle Medicine
By: Nataliya Zlotnikov, HBSc, MSc

What's on Today?

Today's blog is based on Dr. Ginger Garner's free online healthcare course, An Introduction to Medical Therapeutic Yoga.

The above course is an introduction to Dr. Garner's Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY) certification.

The complete program consists of two certifications, first is the Integrative and Lifestyle Medicine (ILM) Certification, followed by the Medical Therapeutic Yoga (MTY) Certification - as already mentioned, the latter of these two is the subject of today's blog. 

If you'd like to read more about ILM and Dr. Garner's ILM certification, take a look at our previous blog, Integrative Lifestyle Medicine Is Within Your Scope of Practice, Learn How to Use It.

Now, let's get to today's topic, Medical Therapeutic Yoga!


Clarity is Key

For clarity's sake, before getting further into the blog, we will first define lifestyle medicine (LM) and integrative medicine (IM).


What Is Lifestyle Medicine (LM)?

“Lifestyle Medicine is the use of evidence-based lifestyle therapeutic intervention—including a whole-food, plant-predominant eating pattern, regular physical activity, restorative sleep, stress management, avoidance of risky substances, and positive social connection—as a primary modality, delivered by clinicians trained and certified in this specialty, to prevent, treat, and often reverse chronic disease.”

- American College of Lifestyle Medicine


What Is Integrative Medicine (IM)?

IM takes "into account the whole person, including body, mind, spirit, and environment, and utilizes a wide range of therapeutic options, both complementary and conventional."

- Canadian Integrative Medicine Association 


Why Yoga for ILM?

Our current, standard healthcare system doesn't operate from the integrative lens of functional or lifestyle Medicine, and it certainly doesn't regularly include yoga or other integrative medicine modalities.

But having now defined the practices of IM and LM, it becomes pretty evident why yoga, and particularly Medical Therapeutic Yoga, can be used to deliver ILM.

So let's discuss it a little bit. 

Take a look at the above 2012 National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) figure from Dr. Ginger Garner's presentation, listing the 10 most common complementary health approaches among adults.

We see natural products, deep breathing, yoga/tai chi/qi gong, chiropractic or osteopathic manipulation, meditation, massage, special diets, homeopathy, progressive relaxation and guided imagery.

As the majority of us are likely aware, yoga covers deep breathing. However, when Dr. Garner teaches it as part of MTY, it also covers:

  • Osteopathic care
  • Meditation
  • Soft tissue mobilization and massage
  • Special diets
  • Progressive relaxation
  • Guided imagery
  • Natural products   

Almost all the categories of complementary integrative medicine are included in MTY!

This makes yoga the perfect catch-all to deliver ILM!


Click Here for the Introductory MTY Course


What You Will Learn In This Introductory Course: 

  1. The vital signs of the MTY Method, which teaches yoga as a lifestyle medicine.
  2. The systems-based distinctive roles of lifestyle, integrative, & functional medicine in practice.  
  3. Psychological- and trauma-informed therapy skills. 
  4. The biopsychosocial model of assessment and intervention for halting chronic disease and tackling acute and chronic pain. 
  5. Immediately applicable skills to take to the clinic. 
  6. Shifting the therapeutic landscape to improve patient outcomes.
  7. Making yoga safe & effective (so we can practice for 30 years or more and not have injuries as a result of our practice)


The MTY Program Is For You if You Want To: 

  1. Lower stress while improving patient outcomes.
  2. Expand clinical expertise & community reach.
  3. Diversify revenue streams.


MTY Can Help:

  • Increase your effectiveness as a therapist (which makes your job and life easier and slays stress).
  • Can tackle complex comorbidities that are hindering your therapy outcomes.
  • Empower you and your patients for better self-care, pain care and stress management.
  • Plus, give you a comprehensive skillset in integrative medicine that will expand your network and business (and can also help you take your business virtual).
  • And we cannot forget, give you the skillset to tackle our COVID and post-pandemic world.


No Blankets: Diet & Osteoarthritis 

In her course, Ginger also discusses various fascinating publications that illustrate the importance of ILM for our times and have direct and immediate clinical applications.

Below is one of these papers:

In this paper, Liu et al. (2020) found that a higher inflammatory potential of diet increased the risk of knee osteoarthritis. The association was significantly mediated via BMI.

In her discussion of this paper, Dr. Garner mentioned a few good points to keep in mind: 

Although a predominantly plant-based diet will lower inflammation levels, we cannot make blanket statements and must keep our approach individualized. 

For example, a plant-based diet that is heavy in whole grains, such as the Mediterranean Diet, will not be suitable for someone with a leaky gut or gluten sensitivity.

In her clinic, Dr. Garner does an elimination diet to make sure that they identify any additional dietary triggers. 


What They Said 

Here are a few brief reviews from some physiotherapists who have taken Ginger's program.


More About the MTY Program 

Here is a brief snippet from the course in which Ginger discusses the MTY program:

Click Here for the Introductory MTY Course


More With Ginger

Have you already taken today's course but can't get enough of Ginger's courses? Click here to view all of her wonderful courses on Embodia. 


Date written: 7 July 2021
Last update: 8 July 2021

Dr. Ginger Garner

Dr. Ginger Garner PT, DPT, ATC/L is a clinician, author, educator, and longtime advocate for improving access to physical therapy services, especially pelvic health.

She is the founder and CEO of Living Well Institute, which has been training and certifying healthcare providers in Integrative Medical Therapeutic Yoga & Lifestyle Medicine since 2000. She also owns Garner Pelvic Health in Greensboro NC, which offers digital and in-person care.

Ginger is the author of multiple books and book chapters, published in several languages. She has presented at over 20 conferences worldwide and has reached an audience across 6 continents, teaching on a range of topics impacting the pelvic girdle, respiratory diaphragm, and the voice (which she calls the 3D or Three Diaphragm approach).

Ginger is an active member of APTA, serving as the Legislative Chair for APTA North Carolina, a Congressional Key Contact for APTA Private Practice, and in the Academy of Pelvic Health on the Prenatal and 4th Trimester Task Force. Ginger lives in Greensboro, NC and is a mom of four – three sons and the family rescue Lab, Scout Finch. Visit Ginger at the links above, on Instagram and YouTube.

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