More MD’s Recommending Yoga & Other Mind/Body Therapies

By Natalie Engler, RYT
Director of Restorative Yoga Services
The Domar Center for Mind / Body Health at Boston IVF

Mind-body therapies such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises are leading a wave of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use in the U.S. More than a third of Americans use some form of (CAM) and that number continues to rise, according to a study from Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC).

The research also found that one-in-30 Americans using mind-body therapies has been referred by a medical provider. The results of the study appeared in the May 9 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

This data from Aditi Nerurkar, MD, Integrative Medicine Fellow, Harvard Medical School and BIDMC and her colleagues is welcome, albeit unsurprising, given what I’ve witnessed in my 3.5 years as Director of Restorative Yoga Services at the Domar Center.

As a yoga therapist and medical writer, I’ve had a chance to observe the increasing acceptance of mind-body therapies among physicians — thanks in large part to a growing body of evidence demonstrating the many positive outcomes these therapies provide. Reduced depression, anxiety, insomnia are just a few of yoga’s scientifically proven benefits. In fact, in many circles, mind-body medicine is no longer considered “alternative” ““ and it is less unusual to find ancient yoga and meditation practices being taught in modern medical centers (such as Boston IVF).  

Anecdotally, I’ve also observed that as more medical providers experience the benefits of yoga and meditation themselves, more are recommending these approaches to patients based on personal experience.

Researchers collected information from more than 23,000 U.S. households from the 2007 National Health Interview Survey. They found that nearly 3 percent (representing more than 6.3 million Americans) used mind-body therapies due to provider referral and that these Americans were sicker and used the health care system more than people who self-referred.

What we learned suggests that providers are referring their patients for mind-body therapies as a last resort once conventional therapeutic options have failed,” said Nerurkar. “It makes us wonder whether referring patients for these therapies earlier in the treatment process could lead to less use of the health care system, and possibly, better outcomes for these patients.”

I couldn’t agree more.

I tend to see women who have been struggling with infertility for many years before they decide to give yoga a try. The good news is that it’s never too late. But I can’t help but wonder what would happen if more women were to adopt yoga practices long before they began trying to conceive.


Natalie Engler, RYT is a National Yoga Alliance Registered Yoga Teacher who offers private yoga and small group classes to women at all stages of the fertility process. Her approach synthesizes ongoing studies in Iyengar-influenced and Vinyasa yoga with immersion in Restorative Yoga, which she learned as part of her 200-hour yoga teacher certification with Bo Forbes, PsyD, creator of Integrative Yoga Therapeutics.

Natalie has been an avid yoga practitioner for 20 years and a yoga teacher for six years. Through a dedicated personal practice and experience teaching individuals and groups, Natalie has witnessed the potent effects of Restorative Yoga on a wide range of issues. She is honored to be able to share this practice with women at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health.

In addition teaching yoga, Natalie is a wellness coach and health writer who has written for Harvard Medical International, Reuters Health, the Massachusetts Medical Society and Harvard Health Publications. She has been quoted in the Boston Globe, Yoga Journal, Parents Magazine, and Conceive Magazine.