Where Yoga Meditation Meets Integrative Medicine

As we are talking about integrative oncology, it is helpful to know how oncologists who practice complementary medicine define themselves as well as the care they provide. I think this whole approach can be safely extrapolated to cardiology, gastroenterology, gynecoloogy, neurology, and pulmonology when you read on and understand the background.

In the paper cited in the last post, the Society of Integrative Oncologists (SIO) describes integrative oncology as both a science and a philosophy that focuses on the complex health of people with cancer and proposes an array of approaches to accompany the conventional therapies of surgery, chemotherapy, molecular therapeutics, and radiotherapy to facilitate health.

SIO emphasizes awareness and sensitivity to the mental, emotional, and spiritual needs of a patient. The member oncologists propose to do this by combining the best evidence-based complementary therapies and mainstream care in a multidisciplinary approach that evaluates and treats the whole person.

When I read the definition of integrative oncology and its goal, I was struck by how it is almost identical to that of yoga. The highlighted parts define yoga and its goals. Substitute “yoga” for SIO or integrative oncology. In yoga, the multidisciplinary approach includes hatha, raja, tantra, karma, bhakti, and jnana yoga.

Another point that struck home was the use of the word “spirit” in the healing vocabulary of medicine. Even as the medical academia is embracing a new way of caring, yoga is regressively narrow in its myopic and exclusive attention to hatha yoga. Whatever little research is done is solely on aspects of hatha yoga. The other aspects of yoga can significantly add to the quality of life and healing at the emotional, mental, and spiritual levels.

The next post will inform how and why integrative oncology came to be.

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