by Patricia Staszak, PT, PYT

Want a little insight into our philosophy at APT?  Check out this essay that Pat wrote about her growth as a clinician after completing her medical therapeutic yoga certification at the Professional Yoga Therapy Institute:

I am an orthopedic physical therapist with twenty years of experience and the owner of a medium-sized private practice that specializes in orthopedics, general rehabilitation and pelvic physical therapy.  To teach movement, my team and I utilize yoga, Pilates, TRX and Corealign training. Yoga has become a central part of the message at our clinic: we incorporate poses and principles into our patient care, we offer yoga classes in-house (taught by one of our physical therapists) and many of us practice as part of our own self-care routines.

We are a traditional practice working within the parameters of the insurance world, meaning that we are often constrained by visit limitations.  And while our 45-minute, one-on-one appointments help us to make the best use of our time with our patients, we’re always looking for new ways to help them to develop the tools they need to practice comprehensive self-care.
When I first discovered Medical Therapeutic Yoga five years ago, I was eager to jump in. I had been practicing yoga regularly, but I found myself wanting a more biomechanically-informed, universal vocabulary with which to discuss movement. It seemed that many yoga instructors had their own cues and phrases, ranging vastly in both clarity and scientific accuracy. I was looking forward to discussing the safest ways to access yoga poses, using consistent, evidence-based language.
MTY certainly did not disappoint. There is so much to respect in this innovative curriculum, from the sheer breadth of information covered to the vast amounts of current research cited in each module to support this approach. And in MTY I found the vocabulary I’d been searching for: yoga poses and principles are taught with clear, consistent language that is based on biomedical science and empirical evidence. 
Our practice has always favored a pragmatic approach to physical therapy. We discuss a wide variety of topics with patients, placing a large emphasis on education in our plan of care.   MTY has enhanced my ability to consider the whole person when teaching patients about correct movement patterns, posture, breath and exercise principles. 
Since completing the program I feel far more equipped to use asanas for therapeutic purposes and to teach poses so that they are done safely. More importantly to my practice, I now use this clear consistent language while teaching all functional movement patterns. Beyond that, I’ve updated my day-to-day practice to emphasize the use of breathing as a powerful tool in promoting a healthy nervous system and improving neuromuscular control. And I encourage a more gentle, mindful approach to posture and movement and have found that patients appreciate learning how these elements factor into their overall health and wellness. 
Through this program, I have found a community of like-minded healthcare professionals.  The support of this group has been inspiring and I am honored to have the opportunity to share knowledge and experiences with them as we continue on our journey towards providing high-quality, collaborative healthcare.
And not only has the MTY program contributed greatly to my professional development, but it has also transformed my own self-care practice. I’ve been inspired to make many changes to my diet since studying the research on gut health, arthritis, inflammation and mental wellness that Ginger shares in her program. I am stronger, more active and more aware than ever before that taking care of others begins with taking care of yourself.  It’s been an incredibly meaningful experience for me, and I am excited to share these tools with my patients on their paths to wellness.