Tuesday, August 12, 2008


So, my yoga students ask me a lot of questions. Apparently they think I have all of the answers. I get a lot of questions about wrist pain. I give them the option of doing plank and chaturanga on their knuckles. I have told a couple people about some wrist stretching and massaging techniques. Then I thought--Could I get in trouble for this? I am sort of giving medical advice, but my students don't know that I am a doctor. One lady even asked me for a recipe for something she could eat to help cleanse her system! Today I gave her the recipe for kicharee. That is innocent enough, right?

Then I started thinking about manip. Manipulation isn't just medical advice, it crosses the line to medical treatment. I really felt that Tiffany needed manipulation when she came to my class, but we didn't have time. Then I started thinking ... I have to draw the line with manip. But where do I draw the line? Is it okay if I massage someone's wrist? What about strain-counterstrain and myofacial release? No matter how tempted (by good looks (boob-in-the-face technique haha) or outright need), I'm going to resist popping people's joints. A lot of my students would benefit from some sort of manipulation, but they are there for yoga, not a doctor's appointment. And hey, I'm not getting paid for any of this extra stuff!!! I want to be helpful. I want my students to be as healthy as possible, but I don't want to get into any trouble. How much should I do? Look who's asking the questions now.

The funny thing is I never even thought about any of this when I was a (medical) student. When it came to medical advice I usually said (and still say) "Go see your doctor." When it came to manipulation I did it anytime. I did it anywhere too. I remember people looking at me funny when I popped Ross's neck on a bench in Arizona. I didn't care. Now I'm afraid of getting busted for practicing medicine without a license. Can I get in trouble if I don't charge? I think I'm being a little paranoid. I'm still going to remind people to drink lots of water. I'll still tell people about things that they can do for their plantar fasciitis or sore wrists. I just won't do (too much) manip.

1 comment:

Mindful Mama said...

I know what you mean. In my line of work, a simple piece of advice can be taken as law handed down by the gods. Over the years, I have learned to make myself feel more comfortable by delineating which hat I am wearing when I say what I have to say. ie, "As a mom..." or "I am not a lawyer, but..." or "What has worked for me when I had a similar issue was..." etc. My professional code of ethics just wants you to be clear what your expertise is, and give more referrals as needed. Next time you can, grab some business cards from your chiropractor and other health professionals. Give your advice "as a yoga instructor" and offer a referral to an "expert." That should take care of your nervousness. I think it's great you are teaching yoga!! Very cool. I hope I get back to yoga some day....