If it takes a village to raise a baby, perhaps we can use the same train of thought to consider that it takes a team of health practitioners to assist one individual’s healing journey living with chronic illness.

Below I discuss the concept and need for an integrative model of healthcare in our society, that sees a multidisciplinary team manage an individual’s health condition, noting that Yoga therapy is a valuable component of this model.

The health technologies of the past century focused on a reductionist-based, cure-orientated model of healthcare with, no doubt, phenomenal scientific advances giving the ability to prolong life. However, over the past few decades, physicians have attempted to reclaim a sense of balance bringing out medicine’s more spiritual roots, acknowledging that spirituality was for many years often linked with healthcare. Spiritual or compassionate care involves serving the whole person—the physical, emotional, social, and spiritual—understood as a holistic approach (Puchalski, 2001).

Collaborative Healthcare

An integrative collaborative healthcare model combines conventional mental health and medical care with lifestyle interventions, adjunct nutraceuticals/ herbal medicine along with mind-body-spirit therapies such as Yoga and meditation. Collaborative care generally involves more than one health care professional, and systemic efforts to improve communication and teamwork (Ee, et al., 2020). This is otherwise known as a multidisciplinary team; the cooperation between different specialised healthcare professionals with the overarching goal of improving patient care and treatment efficacy (Taberna, et al., 2020).

Benefits of a MDT approach included improved patient outcomes and functioning, enhanced quality of life, and reduced medical costs (Wensing, et al., 2006). A key aspect of collaborative care is the sharing of the patient treatment plan with all the treating team (Ee, et al., 2020). A treating team may consist of; general practitioner, specialised medical practitioner, surgeon, nurse, social worker, psychologist, psychiatrist, counsellor, naturopath, herbalist, dietician and/or yoga therapist for example (Staudt et al., 2022; Taberna, et al., 2020; Lord, D., 2015; Anandarajah, G., 2008).

The MDT model allows for a biopsychosocial approach (well-accepted in medical health realms) in the treatment of mental disorders, which has now opened to include a spiritual component such as Yoga therapy and other mind-body interventions (Anandarajah, G., 2008). Results from a 2011 meta-analysis (Cabral, et al.) demonstrated that Yoga therapy is an effective adjunct treatment for anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders. Also, symptoms left untreated from pharmacology and psychotherapy may be relieved through Yoga-based practices such as Yoga breathing (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), chanting (mantra) and physical Yoga poses (asana) (Cabral et al., 2011).

Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy is a salutogenic intervention (focusing on the origins of health rather than on the factors that cause disease) that works to identify health contributors for individuals to progress toward optimal well-being (Erkisson, 2017).

Beyond the contemporary practice of Yoga in much of the western world, which focuses on the postures as physical exercise, Yoga holds a rich lineage as a comprehensive system intended to alleviate suffering. Yoga therapy is based on the wisdom and tradition of Yoga combining the spiritual teachings, techniques and philosophy with current Western medical and physiological understanding. These methods are applied to specific health conditions in 1:1 sessions or as a part of group therapy classes, tailored to the individual & their health challenge.

A mentioned, Yoga therapy differs in a number of ways from general Yoga classes; it includes a focus on all the Yogic practices, as well as appropriate considerations to individual needs. There is a clearly defined scope of practice based on educational standards, accreditation of training programs, and certification of therapists. The International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT) uphold Yoga therapists that acquire specific skill sets and practical experiences to enable them to work with individuals over a range of health concerns and conditions.

“Yoga therapy is a patient-centred partnership between therapist and client; compassionate care, shared decision- making, and the development of a therapeutic alliance are intrinsic to its processes”, cites an article on Yoga Therapy and Pain for the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, 2020. The International Association of Yoga Therapists defines yoga therapy as “the process of empowering individuals to progress toward improved health and wellbeing through the application of the teachings and practices of Yoga.”

Yoga Therapy empowers and supports individuals to manage their own health, and offers a supportive container for the individual to safely explore their concerns, which a drop-in casual Yoga class does not offer.

Yogic principles that are generally explored within Yoga Therapy:
– building self-awareness (interoception)
– creating routine in one’s day/ life (rhythmic balance)
– chanting, sound vibration and mantra for increasing calm
– working with our inherent life force & building vitality (prāṇa)
– understanding the breath & nervous system regulation (prāṇayama)
– understanding & removing self-limiting beliefs regarding health and lifestyle
– cultivating a regular personal practice of mindfulness & meditation (Sādhanā)
plus more.

It is through Yoga therapy, the aspect of spirituality can be explored. Spirituality is an important element in the way patients manage chronic illness, suffering, and loss (Puchalski, 2001). To address and be attentive to all suffering of the patients—the physical, emotional, and spiritual—is the way forward for healthcare, into the future.

Yoga Therapy for Chronic Health Conditions – upcoming program with Joanna

Yoga therapy for chronic health conditions – with Joanna Nation – skilfully utilises the pillars of Kundalini yoga- movement, breath work, mantra, meditation- to create a container of support in managing chronic illness. Learn more about this three part course beginning on 17 July 2024.

Joanna Nation

Joanna is inspired by the bridging together of both science and spirit in her work with clients and the overall wellness community, seeing the integration and dance of the two as her life-long purpose. She considers herself a multi-disciplinary healthcare practitioner merging traditional and eastern healing modalities with western medicine and modern therapies. Joanna holds a Bachelor’s degree in Health Science; a formal qualification in Counselling; soon to complete a 3+ year course to become a Certified Yoga Therapist; and has spent two decades exploring Yoga and somatic movement, enriching her knowledge and quenching her curious nature with more than 2,000 hours of professional training both internationally and locally.

More info at kindredbeing.net



Anandarajah G. The 3 H and BMSEST models for spirituality in multicultural whole-person medicine. Annals of Family Medicine. 2008 Sep-Oct;6(5):448-58. doi: 10.1370/afm.864. PMID: 18779550; PMCID: PMC2532766.

Cabral, P., Meyer, H.B., Ames, D. Effectiveness of yoga therapy as a complementary treatment for major psychiatric disorders: a meta-analysis. Primary Care Companion CNS Disorders. 2011;13(4):PCC.10r01068. doi: 10.4088/PCC.10r01068

Ee, C., Lake, J., Firth, J. et al. An integrative collaborative care model for people with mental illness and physical comorbidities. International Journal of Mental Health Systems 14, 83 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s13033-020-00410-6

Eriksson M. The sense of coherence in the salutogenic model of health. The handbook of salutogenesis 2017 (pp. 91-96). Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dal016

Puchalski CM. The role of spirituality in health care. Proc (Bayl Univ Med Cent). 2001 Oct;14(4):352-7. doi: 10.1080/08998280.2001.11927788. PMID: 16369646; PMCID: PMC1305900.

Staudt MD. The Multidisciplinary Team in Pain Management. Neurosurgeon Clinics of North America. 2022 Jul;33(3):241-249. doi: 10.1016/j.nec.2022.02.002. Epub 2022 May 25. PMID: 35718393.

Taberna, M., Moncayo, F.G., Jane-Salas, E., Antonio, M., Aribas, L., Vilajosana, E., Torres, E.P., Mesia, R. The Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) Approach and Quality of Care. Frontiers in Oncology. 2020; 10: 85. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2020.00085

Wensing, M., Wollersheim, H., Grol, R. Organizational interventions to implement improvements in patient care: A structured review of reviews. Implementation Science. 2006;1:2. doi: 10.1186/1748-5908-1-2