My lovely partner, Dennis van Deutekom, introduced me to Ashtanga Yoga when I was 21. He told me it had healed his life. He was such a calm and wise presence after the classes, that I had to experience it with him. Immediately I was hooked on the serene atmosphere, the inner peace during exercise and the teacher, Katiza Satya.
It was a time in my life I needed spiritual insight. She taught me about unconditional love. It helped me go through the medical internships that contained many stressful situations. I learned to stay focused to my needs and it helped me to radiate the love to my patients.
I enjoyed every bit of the acrobatic poses of Ashtanga Yoga. In the beginning, I was very flexible and strong, but after a while, I started to suffer from neck pain in some poses. My common sense started to tell me that many of the people doing yoga were probably having pains, strains and medical issues.
A different approach
At that time I was introduced to Emile Pochman, who helped me with a personal issue through Shiatsu and Hypnotherapy. After some years he started giving Kundalini Yoga classes along with Montserrat
, who was training as a Yoga Therapist.
I couldn’t label her type of yoga, because she was doing something I had never experienced before. She told me about her study, which was an answer to my hesitations about my own yoga practice.
I booked a retreat with them in the beautiful surroundings of the Austrian Alps. There I got to see how much medical knowledge Montserrat had, and how respectful and attentive she was in her classes. She mixes this with a sense of playfulness that makes her so unique.
In the following years, I did some Integrative Medicine rotations, graduated and started specialisation in General Practice. During this period I worked fully with the protocols we have. These protocols are great for acute illness, but not so satisfying for chronic problems. Like most of my colleagues, I ended up prescribing medication: pain killers, anti-hypertensive drugs, antidepressants, sleeping tablets, psychological therapy, physical therapy and so on. This helped some patients, but many came back for more.
Almost always there are health and lifestyle problems that stand in the way of healing from the initial diagnosis. Furthermore, the compliance and dependency to the given therapy are a problem. Other solutions ought to be sought.
Medical benefits of Yoga Therapy
Patients can experience for themselves the medical benefits of Yoga Therapy. In this sense, Yoga Therapy is multidimensional, so patients encounter their physical, emotional, social and spiritual state of being.
Montserrat is very well trained and experienced. Not only does she have a great capability of investigation and treatment, but she also knows the alarm signs by heart.
She is trained by doctors and always works with their advice. She refers them back to the doctor when she encounters a warning sign. This makes it safe to refer patients to her with, for instance, lower back pain, joint problems, burnout, sleeping problems, cancer and high blood pressure.
I am very glad that she is passing her knowledge on to more yoga teachers. This will make it easier to find a well-trained Yoga Therapist. I am eager to learn more about the research in this field. It is my personal and professional hope that we can introduce Yoga Therapy in the medical world in the near future.
Drs Mays Zakko