Category: Happenings at MUIH

Yoga Therapist vs. Yoga Instructor. What’s the Difference?

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Dr. Suzie Carmack PhD, MFA, MEd, NBC-HWC, E-RYT 500, C-IAYT, who serves as the Department Chair of Yoga and Ayurveda, and Assistant Professor at Maryland University of Integrative Health, is an award-winning yoga therapist and #1 best-selling author who conducts presentations all over the world.  

In a recent interview, Dr. Carmack unpacks the differences between a Yoga Therapist and a Yoga Instructor: 

What is the difference between the training required for Yoga Therapists versus Yoga Instructors  

As their names imply, there are fundamental differences between Yoga Therapy and Yoga Teacher (Instructor) training programs.   

Yoga Teachers are trained to be educators — to lead groups in studio, gym, school, and community settings in the teachings and practices of yoga, much like a guide leads you through a museum. The timeline of a Yoga Teacher training can vary, ranging from a one-weekend workshop to a 200-hour or a 500-hour program.  

Different programs are available because there is no nationally accredited certification for yoga instruction; however, there is a registry that is run by the Yoga Alliance in which teachers can register as an RYT 200 or RYT 500. These designations imply that the registered yoga teacher has completed a Yoga Alliance-approved program of either 200 hours (RYT 200 Teacher) or 500 hours (RYT 500 Advanced Teacher). Although Yoga Alliance has curriculum standards that their approved programs must meet, each program has some flexibility in how they deliver their training program based on those standards. Each program can also choose to focus on a unique style or practice of yoga – for example, one program may focus on bringing yoga to schools while another program may focus on yoga for athletes, or supporting mental health.  

Most RYT’s (Registered Yoga Teachers) have been trained to become an expert in a particular style of yoga and may or may not have been trained to modify and adapt that style’s choreography and communication for the unique health, medical, and well-being needs of each individual student.  

By contrast, Yoga Therapists are trained in 800-hour programs to be patient- and client-centered in their delivery of yoga therapy in one-on-one and smallgroup settings. Yoga therapy is the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and well-being through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga” (IAYT Website) All Yoga Therapy programs are approved by our nationally accrediting body, the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT), and yoga therapists who complete these programs and take a national board-style exam earn the Certified Yoga Therapist (C-IAYT) credential. Although there is also some variety in the ways that IAYT-approved programs deliver their training, in terms of format and style or focus, all programs are required by IAYT to train Yoga Therapists to develop a program of care that is tailored to their clients’ unique health, medical, and well-being needs 

Is there an overlap between these two career paths? 

All Yoga Therapists are also Yoga Teachers, but not all Yoga Teachers are Yoga Therapists. Allow me to explain: 

All IAYT-approved Yoga Therapy programs require trainees to begin with at least 200 hours of Yoga Teacher (Instructor) training and 100 hours of experience teaching yoga. So, one can’t become a Yoga Therapist without first becoming a Yoga Teacher. On the other hand, not all Yoga Teachers continue their training after their RYT 200 or RYT 500-hour credentials to become Yoga Therapists.  

Although some Yoga Therapists move out of Yoga Teaching once they earn their C-IAYT credential, others choose to overlap their Yoga Therapist and Yoga Teacher roles. In the latter scenario, a Yoga Therapist may dedicate several days per week to their private practice of Yoga Therapy in a community or healthcare clinic setting and dedicate additional hours weekly to teaching yoga (as a Yoga Instructor) in studios, gyms, and schools.  

How much time does a client typically need to practice with a Yoga Therapist and Yoga Instructor to note a difference in their health? 

It may sound toogoodtobetrue, but it has been my experience as a Yoga Therapist and as a Yoga Teacher that clients immediately notice a difference in how they breathe, move, and engage with the day. Although people tend to think of yoga as a practice that requires a yoga mat, there are many ways to practice yoga in our lives and this means that it is a practice of transformation that creates change within the practitioner in how they feel and how they live. 

That said, beginners (first-time yoga practitioners) are advised to start with a well-trained Yoga Instructor or certified Yoga Therapist and not try to go it alone and on their own. I have friends who play golf who say you should only start playing golf with a trained golf professional so you can avoid common mistakes and make the practice your own. The same holds true for Yoga! 

What are some common health needs where a Yoga Therapist is recommended? 

We know that 70 – 80% of the public has at least one chronic health condition, and yoga therapy can be helpful for all of them! That said, most Yoga Therapists focus their private practice on working with clients and patients with a particular medical condition, such as heart disease, anxiety, or chronic pain 

Is it often the case that a person who benefits from Yoga Therapy can also improve their health by  participating in Yoga classes? 

This depends on the client/student. In some cases, Yoga Therapy can help the client modify their practice of yoga so that they feel more empowered to adapt their practice to their own needs when taking a yoga class. In other cases, yoga classes may be contra-indicated for the client. For example, a prenatal client should not be attending a hot yoga class, because she is practicing for two, and her unborn baby does not yet have the same ability to thermoregulate (deal with extreme differences in temperature) as Mom does. In a similar way, a client with anxiety and depression may need a trauma-informed practice adapted to their unique mental health needs, and not all classes are trauma-informed. In addition, yoga teachers guide a group, so they do not always have time to give individual attention to participants. And, because of health privacy concerns, many students in yoga classes may not feel comfortable sharing their unique health needs in the ‘open forum’ of a class setting. 

What personal aspects contribute to the success of a yoga therapist or instructor? 

We are living in an exciting time for yoga. In the last five years, the number of yoga practitioners has grown to 20% of the U.S. population alone, and in the last three years, the number of research articles focusing on yoga has grown exponentially too. With all this demand comes the need for yoga instructors and yoga therapists with a wide variety of skill sets and demeanors, who can meet the clients they are meant to serve in their own unique way. As I say in my book Genius Breaks, every person has a genius within them, including Yoga Therapists and their clients as well as  Yoga Instructors and their students. Both fields focus on integrity, inclusivity, and the willingness to meet clients where they are. For example, I am a “type A” person, and I love working with senior and servant leaders who struggle with perfectionism. Yoga and its gift of self-compassion help me with my perfectionism daily, and I love paying this forward for my clients. In this way, every yoga teacher and yoga therapist can bring their full selves forward, and their students and clients will benefit! 

How would you compare the costs between a Yoga Therapy session and a Yoga class?  

I am glad we can bring this difficult but important topic up and out into the open here. 

Because yoga is a practice that helps people to “let go of stress,” it may be surprising for anyone reading this to hear me say that pricing is an issue that causes significant stress for both Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists. Some Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists choose to offer free or discounted classes or sessions as part of their service (philanthropy) to the world. Meanwhile, other Yoga Teachers and Yoga Therapists choose this field as their career and charge anywhere from $10 per class or more (teaching) to $150 per session or more (yoga therapists). Some yoga teachers and yoga therapists fall somewhere in between – charging for most of their sessions and classes and donating or discounting a portion of them. (This is like most small businesses – who must earn revenue to stay afloat but also believe in giving back). 

It is my belief that we should be charging more for both services, and that is why I do. About 20 years ago, I attended a talk with author and speaker Carolyn Myss, where she gave an example, “If you wanted to hire a lawyer that had 20 or more years of experience and specialized training in your unique problem, you would think nothing of paying $500 or $1000/hour — if you had the means to do so, right? So why do we healers not ask for what we are worth?” Before hearing this, I had burned myself out giving yoga away for free to clients and in community settings. Although I enjoyed helping, I realized I was undervaluing my worth and the worth of this yoga practice. I took this as a personal challenge and started asking for more of an investment from my yoga class students and yoga therapy clients. Years later, I learned that this was good not only for me but for them; the science of consumer behavior teaches us that as people invest more financially in a problem, they are more committed to solving it.  By asking for more from my paying clients, I also have more ability to ‘give back’ through my service work and philanthropic efforts. 

MUIH’s Master of Science in Yoga Therapy Program

MUIH offers the first and only master’s degree in yoga therapy in the U.S. Graduates are prepared with the comprehensive foundation in the theoretical, scientific, and experiential training of yogic teachings and practices needed to provide a therapeutic relationship in conventional health care and medical settings. Graduates apply and integrate the teachings and practices of yoga with contemporary science and evidence-informed practice to evaluate the needs of clients and to design balanced and effective programs tailored to address their individual health challenges. This program is accredited by the Accreditation Committee of the International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT).

Top 10 Easy Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter by Amy Riolo

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stay healthy this winter

In our recent live discussion, How to be Healthy This Winter, Sean Rose, Sarajean Rudman, and Sherryl Van Lare from the Maryland University of Integrative Health shared numerous ways to feel healthy in winter.  This blog reveals 10 easy ways to use herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and nutrition to stay in top shape all season long and beyond!  

As temperatures turn colder, strategies to stay healthy become even more critical. The global medical community is currently challenged with curing new viruses and conditions without known cures. Boosting our immunity is a powerful way to take charge of our health and prevent illnesses. Whether you are looking to stay healthy or recover from an illness, herbal medicine, Ayurveda, and good nutrition can help. 

Try making the following tips a part of your daily ritual: 

  1. According to Ayurvedic principles, consume more warm and oily foods during winter to balance the cold, windy, and dry season. It is essential to eat at the warmest time of day – at midday – when the sun is brightest.  
  1. Make meals a ritual – mindful and intentional eating will aid your body’s digestion and allow you to absorb nutrients. 
  1. Herbal Medicine tries to counteract the coldness and dryness of winter by boosting metabolism and increasing circulation to stay warm. If you often have cold hands and feet, boost your circulation by moving your body, and drink warm foods and tea or tisanes to warm yourself from the inside out.
  1. Food provides our body with the nutrients and information it needs to function. Carotenes, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, Zinc, Selenium, and Vitamin D help to stimulate our immune response in several ways. Eat foods that contain all colors of the rainbow to receive the variety of nutrients that you need to stay healthy, and consult your nutritionist or health care professional to see if supplements are right for you. 
  1. Use herbs in steams and potpourris. Simmer a mixture of cinnamon sticks, citrus peels, clove buds, and star of anise on the stove and let the scent permeate your space. Evidence shows that the volatile oils released into the air from steam could have antimicrobial effects if someone feels sick.
  1. Cinnamon and ginger are spicy and warm, and those tastes tell us they will warm us up. They can be used often in your daily winter recipes or as needed!
  1. Drink warming herbs and spices! Cardamom, black pepper, rosemary, and turmeric have warming qualities and can be blended into tisanes. Adaptogens such as holy basil, ashwagandha, and medicinal mushrooms can help the body’s immune response.
  1. Control excess mucus with cooked oatmeal, flax seed tea, cinnamon, and mullein which contain mucilage and can help reduce excess mucus.
  1. Slowing down is important in winter. Nature goes dormant in winter because there is less energy in the air. It is important for us to do the same.
  1. Eat foods that are in season. If you reside in a colder environment, these might include onions and garlic, leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, winter squash, apples, and citrus. Pumpkin seeds, elderberry, citrus peel, and rose hip also provide a variety of components that help us stay healthy in winter.

Please visit www.muih.edu for more information about our herbal medicine, nutrition, and Ayurveda programs. Be sure to access our recipes for more nutritious and delicious ideas as well.  

Why It’s So Difficult to Keep New Year’s Resolutions –and What You Should Do Instead

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Looking for ways to make and keep New Year’s Resolutions? The start of a new year is an excellent opportunity for reflection, evaluation, and recharging ourselves with the memories of all we have accomplished and learned during the last twelve months. This is also the perfect time to rethink, evaluate, and set new goals. In other words, it is the ideal time to build new habits and improve in many aspects of your life. So why do resolutions get such a bad rap?

We often struggle to keep our new year’s resolutions. Sometimes we get discouraged because setting resolutions can be easy but maintaining them and achieving them throughout the year can be tricky.  Still, setting a vision of what you want to accomplish during the new year can give us a clear map and guide us to a self-care plan. We must make time for ourselves to nurture our bodies and minds.

Why is it challenging to keep new year’s resolutions?

Often our resolutions are based on what we think we should do rather than what we really want to do or what is possible for us to do. We set goals that are impossible to achieve or that don’t align with our values. We may raise our expectations too high and wind up disappointed when we can’t meet them. Our brains are programmed to seek pleasure and avoid pain, so it is difficult to modify old habits that are hardwired, fulfill a purpose, and generate satisfaction, even if they are no longer serving us. It is important to remember that change is challenging and staying motivated and disciplined can take time. 

Nowadays, there are many distractions, and maintaining a focused mindset to prioritize our goals can feel like you are swimming upstream. Some distractions generate joy and pleasure (hello, social media!). In this case, we must be strong and determined to overcome them, knowing that achieving our long-term goals is more important and meaningful.

Being organized and choosing a day of the week to plan your schedule and think about what you need to do to accomplish your resolutions can be extremely useful. 

First, we must aim to set our sights on a longing or a dream that makes us want to achieve our goals. Then, set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely or that will help us make progress towards our goal. Think about setting short-term goals and ask yourself how and when you will achieve them. Consider rewarding yourself for accomplishing small steps to keep you motivated. We must also learn to recognize our own beliefs that limit us; and for this, meeting with a counselor or a health and wellness coach can be of significant help

The best thing about a new beginning is to start again, rethink past behaviors and experiences, deepen something we already like, or try something new.

Aspects of your life that may be good places to focus a New Year’s resolution include

  • Moving your body for energy and flexibility
  • Feeling safe and comfortable in the places where you work and live
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone for personal development
  • Consumption of food and fluids for nourishment
  • Finding ways to rest and recharge
  • Relationships with family, friends, and coworkers
  • Increasing your connection to spirit and soul
  • Harnessing the power of the mind for healing

In many ways, looking back on the past helps us understand ourselves better and make positive progress forward. It also aids in identifying skills we already possess but may not be aware of. Because of this, it’s never too late to get to know yourself and determine what changes may be good for you.

MUIH’s Professional Continuing Education has designed a FREE and Ultimate Resilience Reset Journal that can help you calibrate and organize your life with different planning methods, meaningful reflections, build healthy habits, and help you succeed with your goals throughout the year.

To deepen your personal development and help others along their journeys, Maryland University of Integrative Health offers two complementary master’s degrees. Our Master of Arts in Health and Wellness Coaching prepares students to aid individuals in introspection, goal setting, behavioral change, accountability, and goal achievement. Our Master of Science in Health Promotion prepares you to design, implement, and manage community and workplace health education programs and/or identify community health barriers and advocate for community health initiatives.

Tips to Holiday Wellness – Holiday Sides Cook-A-Long

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For many, November through December is the best time of the year. During the holidays, there are many special occasions for getting together with families and friends, like Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s Eve. It’s a perfect time for cooking, trying new recipes, sharing dishes, and exchanging quality time and gifts. 

Even with all there is to look forward to, this time of year brings some challenges as well. The days get shorter and shorter until the solstice on December 21. The transition of seasons, the change of weather, the fading of leaves, and the evolution of light can slightly affect your health and wellness balance. During this time, you can experience, for example, an increase in food cravings, a change in sleeping habits, mood changes, different allergies, and a lack of energy. 

Implementing self-care and learning to adapt to the time change are essential to feeling good at this time of year. Meditation and self-reflection can help you understand your body. Learning health and wellness tips can keep us active and healthy this time of year. 

Have you noticed how you perform in early spring as opposed to early winter? 

Think back to early spring. Chances are we were feeling more energetic, and more excited about going out, getting in touch with nature, and meeting some friends. But in early winter, we may be feeling more receptive and reflective. It is the perfect time to let go, end a natural cycle, and prepare for winter. We can get ready by eating locally grown vegetables, warming herbs, and feel gratitude for the warmth of family and friends during the holidays.  

To help you transition into winter, Maryland University of Integrative Health MS in Nutrition and Integrative Health student Maya Lechowick has prepared some helpful actions, tips, and recipes to keep you feeling your best during the season transition: 

  • Don’t go out with an empty tank. Before going to a party, eat something so you do not arrive famished. Excellent pre-party snacks combine complex carbohydrates with protein and unsaturated fat, such as apple slices with peanut butter.   
  • Be buffet savvy. At a buffet, peruse the food table before putting anything on your plate. You might be less inclined to pile on items by checking out all your options.  
  • At dinner, serve yourself the standard portions. Once you have finished eating, take a 10-minute break to realize if you are still hungry before going back for seconds. 
  • Drink to your health – a glass of eggnog can set you back 500 calories. Wine, beer, and mixed drinks range from 150 to 225 calories.  Avoid alcohol on an empty stomach. 
  • Put on your walking or dancing shoes. Dancing is a great way to get your body moving. If you are at a family gathering, suggest a walk before the feast or even between dinner and dessert. 
  • Lower your expectations. Holidays don’t always look and feel like they do in the movies. Make it your own by doing the things that fit your lifestyle and make you happy. 
  • Cook from (and for) the heart. To show family and friends care and love, be creative with recipes that use less butter, cream, lard, vegetable shortening, and other ingredients rich in saturated fats. Prepare turkey or fish instead of red meat. 
  • Pay attention to what matters. Although food is an integral part of the holidays, put the focus on family and friends, laughter, and joy. But, if balance and moderation are your usual guides, indulging or overeating occasionally is okay. 
  • Make time for laughter. Laughter is the best medicine. So, make time for it just as you would for a healthy meal, exercise break, or deep breathing exercises. The great news about adding a daily dose of laughter is that there are no known side effects, and so far, we have not documented any allergies to our laughing breaks. 
  • Hydrate and warm yourself with healthy beverages like green teas, infusions, cinnamon, spicy, ginger, and lemon teas.  
  • Dress in layers to keep yourself warm and regulate your body temperature.  
  • Try to be active. Indoor exercising can be beneficial if it is too cold to walk outside. 
  • Get plenty of sleep to recover from stress and work.  

During the holiday season, nourish to flourish. Maryland University of Integrative Health Nutrition Outreach team created delicious seasonal recipes for your holiday meals including health benefits: 

Lemon Broccoli with Parmesan  

Broccoli is in the family of food known as Brassicas. These foods are anti-inflammatory, detoxifying, immune-supporting, and cancer-suppressing.  

Garlic contains a phytochemical called allicin. This sulfur-containing compound boosts immunity, stabilizes blood sugar, and is suitable for your heart and brain. 

Squash with Ginger and Cranberry 

Butternut Squash is rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids, which are excellent for skin and eye health. This starchy vegetable is versatile for both sweet and savory dishes. 

Cranberries are native to North America. These high acid fruits are rich in Vitamin C. Their red pigment is high in phenolic acid and antioxidants with anti-bacterial properties. 

Dressed Carrots & Brussel Sprouts 

Carrots are a rich source of vitamin A, which is linked to eye health. This vitamin helps to reduce the risk of night blindness. 

Rosemary has been shown to boost cognitive function and performance. Rosemary may also help improve memory and sharpen understanding.  

Squash-Sweet Brittle 

Seeds from squash and pumpkin are small and powerful bites of energy. They are high in both zinc and magnesium, two minerals that are often lacking in the Western diet and that are important for heart health. 

Ginger is a great ingredient to utilize on feast days as it stimulates healthy digestion and keeps food moving, as well as reduces uncomfortable gas and bloat. 

Change old habits, break the routine, and try new things in the kitchen. It is healthy to experiment with new recipes and ways of eating. Christina Vollbrecht, MA, MS, Cooking Lab Manager & Recipe Book Project Manager explains, “While we offer plenty of tips and recipes for health and wellness this season, we mostly want you to remember that food is not supposed to be stressful.” Vollbrecht continues, “Whether you are doing the cooking, the eating, the hosting, the travelling, or all of it – treat yourself with kindness and grace and cook and eat from a place of love and you will derive the most benefit both nutritionally and emotionally.” Learn more and check out different recipes for every occasion. 

 

   

 

References: 
Skerrett, P. (2019). 12 tips for holiday eating. Harvard Health. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/12-tips-for-holiday-eating-201212242506

Jones, L. (2020). 7 Simple Holiday Wellness Tips and Quotes to Lower Your Stress. Living Marvelously.com. https://livingmarvelously.com/holiday-wellness-tips/ 

MUIH Faculty Tips: Keep Your Immune System Strong This Winter

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We’ve got a few more weeks left of winter – wouldn’t it be great to stay strong and healthy during this time? We asked several faculty members from our yoga, nutrition, herbal medicine, health and wellness coaching, and acupuncture and Oriental medicine programs to answer this question: What are some of the top tips you’d give a client to help them maintain a strong immune system during this time of year?

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