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Network Matters
News and Information for the
Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Network

October 2017

Therapeutic Yoga for Chronic Pain and Other Conditions

Many patients are wary of taking opioids to manage their chronic pain, and may inquire about non-medication alternative treatments. In addition to acupuncture and cognitive behavioral therapy, which we noted in the May issue of Network Matters, therapeutic yoga can be effective in treating chronic pain and a wide range of other symptoms and conditions.

Jay and Terry Gupta are working to integrate therapeutic yoga into the medical community in New Hampshire, making the treatment increasingly accessible to patients and training providers in the practice.

Brief therapeutic sessions

Jay Gupta is a registered pharmacist, medication therapy management specialist, and the Director of Pharmacy and Integrative Medicine at Harbor Homes, Inc. in Nashua. He began his yoga training as a young child, and after experiencing its therapeutic properties for more than 20 years, he decided to bring his knowledge of the practice into the hospital system.

“One of the biggest problems in health care is polypharmacy — taking five or more medications a day,” says Jay. “With these patients, you’ll often find that they need to use more medications just to mitigate the side effects of those five daily meds. Therapeutic yoga can be a very powerful intervention to reduce polypharmacy and make patients’ lives easier, as well as greatly reduce medical costs.”

Jay and his wife Terry, a social worker and yoga specialist, offer classes through their non-profit organization YogaCaps, Inc. (“Caps” is short for “capsules,” which are brief therapeutic yoga sessions that can be done multiple times a day and can take as little as a few minutes to perform). YogaCaps offers as many as 11 free classes per week in Southern New Hampshire hospitals and clinics.

Doctors, nurses, and physical therapists trained by Jay regularly use yoga as an integrative health practice for cardiac rehab, post-bariatric-surgery rehab, arthritis relief, depression, and substance abuse issues, and to treat chronic pain from things like cancer and fibromyalgia and in patients who can’t do traditional exercises due to musculoskeletal issues. “It’s something patients can practice for a few minutes while waiting for the doctor, or that doctors can do between patients as a short-but-helpful bit of self-care,” says Terry.

Jay and Terry also use therapeutic yoga to address sleep issues through their other organization, RxRelax. Jay is currently conducting a clinical trial with the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Science, studying the effects of eight weeks of therapeutic yoga on cancer patients who struggle with insomnia.

Therapeutic yoga certification training

In November, RxRelax, in collaboration with Elliott Hospital, is hosting a therapeutic yoga certification training for health care professionals, which will emphasize transforming health care practices by integrating therapeutic yoga and mindfulness techniques. You can learn more or register by visiting the RxRelax website.

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