By Amber Baker
“Doctors can’t prescribe until yogi’s describe” is the motto of the newly announced Yoga Genome Project created by the Yoga Care Foundation (YCF). This ambitious research project is designed to help medical professionals decipher the many styles of yoga so they can effectively recommend its use as a therapeutic modality.
The quantity and quality of yoga related research being conducted and published by respected sources has grown exponentially over the last few years. While much of this research points towards the beneficial relationship between yogic practices (including asana, pranayama, and meditation) and health and healing, the results don’t always provide health care providers with the information they need to begin integrating these practices into their treatment plans. The Yoga Genome Project will culminate in the creation of a tool that is intended to close this gap.
For the first phase of the project, the YCF has planned the largest and most extensive survey of yoga practitioners and professionals yet conducted. To participate, lineage founders and studio owners in are encouraged to become Studio Research Affiliates. Subsequently, all those who practice at Affiliate centers will be invited to complete a series of online surveys.
The results of these surveys will help the YCF define the many different characteristics that could describe a yoga class, including: level of physical intensity, amount of social interaction, and time spent in relaxation, meditation, or focusing on the breath. These characteristics will then be used to create a map of current yoga styles that breaks down the make-up of a typical class.
The resulting guide will provide physicians and other health care professionals with a reference to assist them in determining the most appropriate regime for each patient based on their unique needs and health concerns. Rich Goldstein, founder of the Yoga Genome Project, states “although we know yoga to be much more than the sum of its parts, we can make yoga more accessible to other people by describing those parts”.