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Payne on University-Based, Integration-Oriented Yoga Certificate: What Part of YT's Future? PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Payne on His University-Based, Integration-Oriented Yoga Therapy Rx Program: What Part in Yoga's Future?

Summary: This penultimate article in the Future of Yoga Therapy series examines the program Larry Payne, PhD offers through Loyola Marymount University extension: a certificate program that prepares Yoga therapists to work in close association with medical doctors, chiropractors and other health care professionals. More of CAM and less of Ayurveda is the way Payne describes it. Will this training of Yoga practitioners become an important line in the field's maturation? Is there a loss in this direction? This series is sponsored by the International Association of Yoga Therapists.
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IAYT is the sponsor of an Integrator Series on the Future of Yoga Therapy
Yoga Rx
. This conjunction of two powerfully evocative health/medicine images may be the most simple, somewhat oxymoronic presentation of our culture's efforts to integrate distinct natural therapeutic approaches with a kind of medicine dominated by pharmaceutical Rx. Yoga as pharmacy replacement.

Yoga Rx is also a brand. It is the name of a book, co-authored by former assistant dean of the UCLA medical school, Richard Usatine, MD. Yoga Therapy Rx is also the name of a university-based certificate course in which key faculty include Usatine, chiropractor Rick Morris, DC and a half-dozen additional medical doctors.
Both book and course promote "a marriage between Yoga therapy and complementary medicine." Both educate and train Yoga teachers to be Yoga therapists, to "apply classical applications of Yoga for use in clinical settings to help treat common ailments and conditions."

Larry Payne, PhD, CYT, charting new ground for Yoga therapy education
The connective tissue between book and course, and between "Yoga Therapy" and "Rx", is a former Los Angeles advertising executive whose bad back at age 37 led to 25 years of life changing devotion to Yoga practice, teaching, therapy and education - Larry Payne, PhD.

Why the Book, the Course, the Link?

Payne came to his present work through a riverwise process that began with his own healing and many trips to India. "I was still officially with McCall's magazine in my first trips" he notes, explaining his easy access to top Yoga teachers.

Loyola Marymount
University Extension

Yoga Therapy Rx Level 1
110 hours, $1985

A. Principles of Practice I

B. Anatomy and Physiology of the
Musculoskeletal System

C. Yoga Therapy Solutions
for Common Problems

Specific Courses

(each links understanding of the
condition with "Yoga solutions")

Principles and Practice of Yoga Therapy I
Definition, history, and the
Yoga Rx 8-Step Wellness
Program emphasizing healing
of the whole person.
Anatomy of Movement for Yoga Teachers I

Anatomy of Movement for Yoga Teachers II
Anatomy of Breathing for Yoga Teachers

Common Lower Back Problems

Flexion Faults, Extension Faults
Common Upper Back & Neck problems

 Common Lower Back Problems
& General Conditioning
Upper Back Problems
and Flexibility Testing

The Business of Teaching Yoga

Common Knee and Hip Problems

   Yoga Therapy Rx Level II
110 hours, $1975

A. Principles of Practice II
B. Anatomy, Physiology and common
problems of the; Respiratory, Cardiovascular,
Digestive, Nervous, Women’s Reproductive
and Endocrine Systems

(each unites presentations, typically
by medical doctors, with "Yoga solutions")

Yoga Sutras for Yoga Therapists
Respiratory & Cardio Systems
Digestive System
Nervous System
Yoga Therapy Solutions for
Digestive & Nervous Systems
Women’s Reproductive System
Endocrine System
Yoga Solutions for Women’s
Reproductive & Endocrine Systems
Yoga Solutions for Addiction

His personal experience of Yoga as therapy moved him toward Yoga "therapy" more than Yoga as "teaching." In 1990 he co-founded, with Richard Miller, PhD, the International Association of Yoga Therapists as an association which could promote this approach. In 1984 in Los Angeles, Payne opened that city's first Yoga therapy center in association with Leroy Perry, DC, Hollywood's chiropractor to the stars. He was invited by Usatine to teach Yoga to UCLA medical school students in 1994. Payne began to envision a niche for a kind of education which would better prepare a Yoga therapist for working collaboratively with medical doctors and healthcare providers. (For more on Payne click here.)

Payne ticks off the key characteristics of this brand of education:

  • CAM principles rather than Ayurvedic principles.
  • Focus on learning how to use Western medical terms rather than Sanskrit terms.
  • Focus on understanding the language of medical diagnostics rather than on checking pulses.
  • Focus on being able to work well with diverse healthcare practitioners including medical doctors, nurses, chiropractors, osteopaths, psychologist, physical therapists.
  • A focus on rehabilitation and chronic conditions rather than acute conditions.

Rick Morris, DC, associate director, Level I
Payne is clear: "I have nothing against learning the Sanscrit terms. I have nothing against checking pulses. But to work in an integrated environment you need to know about what 'distal' and 'proximal' mean, so you can talk back and forth."

Forging a Relationship with an Accredited University

Two years ago, Payne had an opportunity, through a relationship with Chris Chappel, PhD, at Loyola Marymount University, to create a course which, for the first time, would grant a certificate from an accredited university to a Yoga therapist. The extension program managed by Chappel - "a serious Yogi" according to Payne - also houses a separate certificate program in Yoga philosophy. (Payne notes that most Yoga education in Los Angeles focuses on Yoga postures, rather than the field's rich  philosophic infrastructure.)

Yoga Rx Certificate Courses which Payne led in developing (see sidebar) focus on basic learning around medical conditions, followed by "Yoga Therapy Solutions" for these health problems. The medical conditions taught are more severe as one moves from Level I, with its musculoskeletal focus, to the optional Level II program. Level I also includes an "Anatomy for Yoga Teachers" course, and content on language, charting, SOAP notes and an introduction to HIPAA. Faculty is multi-disciplinary, with a stronger representation of medical doctors in Level II's focus on respiratory, digestive, nervous and cardiovascular problems. The one weekend per month for a year structure allows Payne to bring in top Yoga instructors, such as Leslie Kaminoff, who was featured in an earlier Integrator article.

Payne believes that "the missing piece now" is a clinical component. He has begun dialogue with Cleveland Chiropractic College, where his co-collaborator Morris teaches, on a possible clinical arrangement.

Future Questions: Other Locations? Licensing? Accreditation? Reimbursement?

Payne readily embraces a world in which programs like his exist throughout the country, where Yoga therapy is licensed, and is more widely included in the insurance system. He also draws clear boundaries around his intentions, and what he views as his role.

Richard Usatine, MD, co-author Yoga Rx, associate director, Level II
"I am trying to set up a model program" at Loyola, Payne says, adding: "I would like it to be a beautiful model. It's fine with me if someone else wants to follow-up and set up other programs like it." He has no plans to do so himself.

Payne answers questions regarding the issue of seeking insurance coverage of Yoga therapy - a conversation which follows the deeper medical integration his certification programs support - from a personal perspective: "I dislike the hassels of the insurance interface." He then adds: "I'm trying to get those who complete the programs to interface well with other practitioners. Someone else can do the insurance part." He does envision Yoga as more deeply involved in conventional payment structures in coming years.

Payne views the scope of the Yoga therapy practice as "evolving as we speak." Where he is most comfortable in forecasting the future of Yoga therapy is around the integration of care: "Teamwork will be much improved by 2020, and I look forward to that."

Note: Some of the courses, including Anatomy for Yoga Teachers, can be taken separately, without enrollment in an entire sequence.

The historic first graduating class from the Loyola Marymount University of Yoga Therapy Rx Level I training

Comment: Payne's program is to Yoga what the UCLA extension course founded by Joseph Helms, MD is to medical acupuncture and the University of Arizona Program in Integrative Medicine is to cross-training medical doctors for integrative practices. (Interestingly, both Payne and Helms developed their programs through extension courses.)

Each of these programs adds skill sets to existing practice. Each, to greater and lesser extent, deepens a practitioner's understanding of another way of thinking and practicing. Each, to a greater or lesser extent, begins to open pathways through which a practitioner re-shapes that which is one's clinical and/or institutional base.

Purists in all camps worry at the loss of discipline integrity in the integration process. What happens to Yoga if Yoga therapists are certified in a program in which Sansrkit is down-played and the taking of pulses is not stressed? Is it a horrible change? Is some potentially valuable hybrid born? Are both of these true?

Payne speaks of Yoga Therapy Rx as a "marriage." Anyone who is familiar and thrives in that institution will know that the creature who enters is transformed daily by that practice.

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for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.

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