by Liz Williams PT, PYT
How can you go wrong with a presentation that includes the slide, “What Happens in Vagus, Stays in Vegas?” In short, Ginger Garner did a bang up job of presenting her life’s work in Professional Yoga Therapy to a group of athletic trainers at the 64th Annual NATA conference this past June, held in Las Vegas, NV. The focus of Ginger’s presentation was the concept of controlled flexibility, which in a nutshell, captures the essence of the physical practice of the PYT model.
Ginger has long been a proponent of creating safety within the practice of yoga in this country. To do this, she draws from her knowledge of kinesiology, physiology, and exercise science. Ginger seems to have mastered the art of introducing yoga into the western mind set in a way that is not only recognized, but also celebrated. Her presentation reviewed the classic understanding of the physiology of stretching—discussing GTO’s and muscle spindles. She discussed the benefits of PNF—utilizing mobility to facilitate lasting change in tissue extensibility. Ginger discussed neural mobilization, visual imagery, and eccentric muscle contraction as ways to increase tissue extensibility. With each modality discussed, Ginger introduced the concept of longevity—be it through discussion of how to create lasting results, or the idea of protecting the joints via stability before mobility.
For strength training purposes Ginger discussed the role of hip musculature in the management of patellofemoral function and lumbopelvic stability. She was able to discuss how yoga could effectively strengthen hip muscles. She discussed the algorithm of the PYT method to evaluate hip musculature, and lumbopelvic stability. It was this algorithm that we discussed in detail in the lab section of the presentation.
There were many things about the lab portion of this presentation that I thoroughly enjoyed. The surprise of the participants when they attempted to run through downward dog prep—“you made it look so easy.” The palpable shift in the energy in the room after a few short minutes of simply breathing together, in silence. The genuine interest in participants to learn how to incorporate yoga into their work was palpable.
In addition to speaking to the physical benefits of the PYT method Ginger discussed the medical benefits of yoga. She reviewed (and for some, introduced) the role of cortisol in the stress response; including information on the deleterious effects of elevated cortisol. With this, she discussed using the PYT method to reduce stress. Ginger also discussed the importance of reducing cortisol levels for the purposes of disease prevention.
Because of her extensive understanding of health care Ginger was able to present a multidimensional approach to treating the athlete. She was able to use western science as a buy in to the more esoteric practice of yoga. Because why not use all of our tools to care for each other?
As for future speaking engagements, I would certainly welcome the opportunity to work with Ginger in the future. I was drawn to PYT by her mission statement “to revolutionize health care.” I have experienced the draw of a lovely group of people to this method, and have no doubt that any efforts I put into PYT will manifest in my professional and personal development.