How a Skeptical Chiropractor learned to embrace the Healing Power of Yoga.

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Chances are you have heard someone say, “All doctors think they are God in a lab coat.”

While I certainly can’t deny that I’ve met physicians who meet this description, I believe doctors are, due to their extensive training, natural skeptics.

So while I had heard of yoga (who hasn’t?), I didn’t believe it was anything more than some good exercise and beneficial stretching. The thought that yoga could actually heal the body or do anything beyond some feel-good, smell the incense, new age stuff never crossed my “show me the study” mind.

That was until one of my new patients asked me if I had a yoga studio to go along with my chiropractic office. I’m certain I smirked a bit as I smiled at her and said, “No.”

She sat up and asked if I had a yoga instructor on staff or if I did yoga myself. Again, my answer was no.

This young and very intelligent woman asked me why. While I didn’t come right out and say I had no need for new agey stuff, I suppose she saw right through my canned reply.

She looked me right in the eye and said, “There are many people who think chiropractic work is totally woo, you know?” For those who haven’t heard the term “woo” used this way, in short, it’s akin to snake oil.

Her comment really gave me something to think about. She was right, of course, but what did yoga have to offer other than some good stretching? Not that there was anything wrong with that, per se, but it couldn’t do anything more substantial, could it?

The doctor in me had to go investigate for myself—and what I found shocked me.

Like my chiropractic work, yoga can help to heal certain health problems or issues, but it isn’t designed to be a cure-all. Let’s face it, all the cat and bridge poses in the world will not help you if you don’t give up smoking.

Chiropractors are also famous for telling their clients that we unite the body and mind. Before my research, I did not understand that yoga also addresses the body and mind, including the breath and spirit.

Humans experience their lives through their central nervous system. Our minds are continually evaluating, remembering, storing information for later use, and responding to stimuli according to our previous experiences.

Even when we aren’t fully aware that this is going on, our body and mind coordinate and try to take control, often aiming for a balance in their response. When restrictions between mind and body are removed, such as what I do in chiropractic adjustments, we enter a more balanced state of a healthy mind and balanced body or balanced mind and healthy body—both terms work for me.

I talked to people about yoga and their experiences. I did some research online and found thousands of testimonials from people who were, through a combination of yoga, chiropractic care, clean eating, and positive thinking, healed—or at least helped—from a variety of issues.

One woman said that were it not for chiropractic care and yoga, she believed she might have lost her mind due to terrible PMS symptoms.

Another young woman, involved in a bad horse riding accident, who was told she would probably have her leg amputated, made a full recovery within two years after surgery with the help of yoga and chiropractic work.

I was also impressed with the story of a woman who believed chronic back pain was her hereditary lot in life and was then healed by chance through a chiropractor and yoga instructor in another country.

I have come to realize that, like chiropractic care, yoga is another way to realign the body and connect it to the mind. Think of yoga and chiropractic care like a hand and a glove—different, yet similar, and a good fit.

Other things I learned in my investigation of yoga include:

  1. Practicing yoga can keep your chiropractic adjustments in place for longer.
  2. Chiropractic care can help yoga enthusiasts perform their poses better.
  3. Like chiropractic adjustments, yoga improves mobility.
  4. Yoga strengthens core muscles so they can support the spine.
  5. Both chiropractic care and yoga are multisystem practices that improve both mind and body.

While you might not find me in a yoga studio—yet—I no longer believe those who practice yoga are simply granola munching hipsters. This downward dog has learned some new tricks.

~

author: Dr. Brent Wells

Image: Nicholas A. Tonelli/Flickr

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Dr. Brent Wells

Dr. Brent Wells is a chiropractor in Anchorage, Alaska. He lives with his wife and three children. He gave up the sunny beaches of Southern California and founded Better Health Alaska, a chiropractic clinic that does not serve granola but promises to treat you with respect.

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