Some may think that a yoga class at the Cleveland Clinic looks like yoga for old folks. The movements are simple—participants practice wrist-rotating or slowly twisting their heads around like an owl or a poltergeist rather than working up a sweat. That’s because the Cleveland Clinic purports its own special kind of yoga called wellness yoga, a practice that focuses on gentle, mindful poses. But it’s not just for older folks. It’s for anyone who experiences discomfort or stress, sits in a desk all day, or wants more than just cardio exercise.
The Clinic has been providing yoga for its employees, their spouses, and the 40,000 or so patients of the facility for years. Their newest effort to bring yoga to their community is The Cleveland Clinic School of Yoga, the first-ever yoga certification program provided through a medical institution. The program entails 200 hours of class and is certified by the Yoga Alliance, so graduates will be eligible to teach beginning and intermediate classes. The next cohort will begin on Jan. 8, 2016.
The program instructs students in traditional hatha yoga as well as wellness yoga. Judi Bar, the Yoga Program Manager, has been working at the Clinic for 10 years, “even before yoga really took its hold and gained widespread popularity,” Bar says. She discovered yoga when she was seeking a cure for chronic back pain due to years as a ballerina.
“One of our mottos is, ‘Do no harm, teach from the heart,'” she says. In other words, though the contortionist yoga popular on social media may not be for everyone, wellness yoga is. “'Inclusive' is the word we like to use,” Bar explains. Wellness yoga is also extremely practical; it features many poses that can be done sitting in a chair at a desk. Why not practice a little 'up dog' while writing a memo at the office? Your coworkers may start to distance themselves, but your back will thank you.
The School of Yoga is part of a broader effort on the part of the Cleveland Clinic to integrate wellness and preventative care into what it does. The program aims to educate and reach out to the community about the benefits of yoga and other ways of holistic living. “This program represents the Cleveland Clinic’s commitment to wellness, prevention, and being that model. We’re more and more being looked upon as that model for wellness,” Bar says.
In case you’ve forgotten, the Cleveland Clinic is one of the best medical institutions in the country; this is not just new-age mumbo jumbo. (Or if it is
new-age mumbo jumbo, it's supported by lots of research.) “The reason I’m able to do what I do is how yoga affects the nervous system and stress,” Bar explains. Yogis and anti-new-agers alike may be interested to find that what seemed like a fad is finding its way into our health care system—with our very own Cleveland Clinic leading the way.
Classes are located at the Lyndhurst Campus of the Cleveland Clinic, 1950 Richmond Rd, Lyndhurst.