Fitness Magazine

Fizzy Yoga!

By Ninazolotow @Yoga4HealthyAge
by Shari

Fizzy Yoga!

Trees in the Ocean by Brad Gibson

I recently looked into physioyoga (aka "fizzy yoga") because I was very displeased with the knee rehabilitation I was currently receiving from a local and very well-respected (in the medical community) orthopedic physical therapist. I was displeased for a number of reasons but the most glaring issue was my feeling that she was myopically looking at my problem. She focused solely on my injury, not on the many parts of  the “whole me” that predisposed me to injury, and when I brought up the various imbalances in my body, she politely listened but refocused the visit on my acute injury. I would leave feeling frustrated, but I would dutifully do my home exercise program and feel my mind disconnect from my body as I was doing them. Though we could “talk shop” about my injury, she didn’t understand or appreciate my yoga practice and couldn’t recommend anything other than “take a couple of weeks off and rest your knee.” Well in my world that recommendation wasn’t going to pay my bills!
So I decided to be more pro-active. I found a local sports medicine internist who did less invasive office procedures and had my knee drained of the edema and injected with cortisone for pain relief. I also knew that I had to find another type of physical therapist who could look at me as a whole person, not just my knee injury, and begin to assist me in the road to healing. I figured I needed to meld the traditional  medical approach with the CAM model (complementary alternative medicine) to begin to address my knee injury.
I was already a member of a group called Bridge Builders to Awareness in Healthcare, a world-wide internet group of rehabilitation professionals who all practice yoga and use yoga as a therapeutic modality or therapy to treat a wide variety of chronic and acute health care conditions that have not been successfully treated in the reductionistic American health care system. Perusing this site, I found a lot of talk about “fizzy yoga” and “physioyoga.”
On the various news feeds that I have on my computer there was a lot of talk about one of the stars from “Sex and the City” who was healed from a knee injury under the care of a “fizzy yoga” therapist. Her comments about how “fizzy yoga saved my life” were sensational to say the least, and I was intrigued not only by the name but by the enthusiastic endorsement.
On the Bridge Builders site, I found an article by a Canadian physiotherapist (that is their name for the profession that I call physical therapist) named Shelly Prosko, BPT, PYT, CPI, who wrote a definition of physioyoga for a local news station. Briefly, physio-yoga therapy (PYT) is a type of rehabilitation where the client (patient) and the  medical practitioner enter into an equal partnership toward healing. It is a holistic approach, where the focus is on individual self empowerment and self healing. The physio-yoga therapist is the guide in addressing the imbalances between body, breath, and spirit of the client within the guidelines and principles of yoga.
Upon further reading, I came across some writings by one of the influential originators, Matthew Taylor, MPT, EYT, about the new 21st century health care system (see here). In brief, Matt draws many parallels between soft tissue structural changes (body), effects on breathing patterns (spirit) and central nervous system vigilance (mind) , emotions (mind) that all interact to create dis-health. I finally felt that I had finally found my health care community and wasn’t “alone” with how I approached individuals in my physical therapy work!
Okay, so now not only was I hooked, I wanted to find someone in my area to assist me on my path to healing because I knew I couldn’t do it by myself. Looking on Ginger Garner’s Professional Yoga Therapy site, I found someone who was geographically close to me. I read the testimonials that prior patients had written so I could get a sense of her treatment approaches. (This was scary because usually all of my connections are from word of mouth and this was the first time I was doing a search “blind.”)
But from the moment that I walked into this fizzy yoga therapist's office I could feel the pragmatic shift in her model of health care delivery!  She asked me numerous questions, actually LISTENED to my answers and did an incredibly through structural evaluation (physical-therapist based) and started putting associations together between my various weak links. Together on that first visit, we worked on a simple home practice that made sense to me as well as to my knee. Well, I knew that together we would figure this out! We were partners together. It was more egalitarian and not hierarchical so there wasn’t a power discrepancy. Each and every visit I have had after the first is a meeting of minds. I come with my requests for care, she discusses her observations and together we work.
Though it still isn't 100 percent yet, my right knee is regaining function! I can now kneel with padding for very short periods of times. I can squat, though I still can't come upright without pain. I can sit in Virasana (Hero pose) on one block and I can do Child's pose. I still can't do a lot of the activities that I was doing before the injury, and  my left knee noting how much it was compensating has become cranky as well. But I've made a lot of progress over the last 6 months, and hopefully with more time I will make even more progress.
So that's my personal testimonial! But what about you? Should you seek a fizzy yoga therapist for your physical problems? Would there be any problems or conditions that would preclude you from seeking care of a fizzy yoga therapist/physio-yoga therapist? I would answer there is only one scenario where this type of health care approach wouldn’t work. If an individual wants to be “fixed” and take no active responsibility in their rehabilitation then I don’t think this system would work for them. You can’t just receive but do have to be an active participant. The fizzy yoga therapists are licensed health care professionals and are vested in the state they live with the ability to practice their profession. What is different—and this is a huge difference—is how they approach the issue of injury and illness.
Finally, what would I recommend in looking to find a fizzy yoga/physio-yoga therapist? I would start with the links listed above and add to that  another link to begin searching for someone geographically convenient. I would not choose an individual who has only taken a couple of weekend yoga continuing education classes, and then thinks they can use yoga as a modality like other types of “exercise approaches.” In this type of yoga therapy, the clinician really has "walk the walk,” and can’t be an armchair or book yogi. Personal practice in my mind is really important if you are going to use yoga as a healing modality. You need to be able to have a depth of practice personally that then can be shared and modified to individual client needs.
Now you might be wondering, since I myself am both a yoga teacher and a physical therapist, am I going to become a fizzy yoga therapist and not just a patient?  I think I have been doing yoga with my physical therapy patients for years, but I just never was upfront about it. I'd say things like: "Balance training; lets do some standing poses!", "Respiratory distress? Lets work on ujaaii breathing or deep belly breathing and posture, posture posture! Where is the still point?", and "Self pacing skills? Let's learn to move with intention." The difference is that I have never identified what I do with my patients as "yoga" unless they say to me "this is like yoga!" Because I work under the constraints of Medicare, I have to play by the rules. But my therapeutic skills and my yoga skills complement each other and aren't put into diagnostic boxes when I work clinically. So for now, I would classify myself as "an undercover fizzy therapist."

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