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Yoga as Medicine: The Yogic Prescription for Health and Healing Paperback – July 31, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Western-trained internist and Yoga Journal medical editor McCall has practiced Iyengar yoga for a decade. In 2002, he traveled to India, where most scientific research on yoga's medical benefits has been conducted. The results of that visit and McCall's subsequent study of yoga therapy and ayurveda (India's ancient medical system) are presented here, translated into Western medical terms. For example, McCall demystifies such concepts as samskaras (unconscious patterns that negatively affect behavior and health); scientists, McCall says, explain these patterns as repeated firings of neurons that change the brain's wiring. Although McCall's focus is on yoga therapy, he includes material that will be helpful to most students. For readers challenged by illness, he provides an overview of popular yoga styles and their suitability for various degrees of fitness; steps to finding a yoga therapist; and what to expect from a session. Twenty chapters feature noted yoga instructors describing their approaches to specific conditions—panic attacks, carpal tunnel syndrome, depression, infertility, cancer, etc. They offer advice, rather than fixed protocols, based on their tradition and experience. This might frustrate readers seeking a formula, but those willing to experiment have access to many diverse tools and practices. No doubt McCall's fine articulation of yoga's healing potential will appeal to a large audience of instructors, students, physicians and their patients. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


"Yoga as Medicine is a powerfully clear, accessible and practical guide to creating a vibrantly healthy body, mind, and spirit. What a tremendous contribution to healing and human potential!"—Joan Borysenko, PhD, author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind

“Read this to find out why we teach our patients YOGA.”—Mehmet Oz, MD, author of YOU: The Owner’s Manual and Professor and Vice Chairman, NY Presbyterian/ Columbia University Hospital

“Self-administered yoga therapy, taking your cues from a book or magazine, can be a tricky, even risky business. But Yoga as Medicine is the next best thing to having the doctor right there beside you. An instant classic.”—Richard Rosen, Contributing Editor, Yoga Journal and Director, Piedmont Yoga Studio

Yoga as Medicine is beautifully organized and presented, making it instantly readable and practical for anyone desiring better health or immediate help with a particular problem.”—Christiane Northrup, MD, author of Mother-Daughter Wisdom, The Wisdom of Menopause, and Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 592 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1 edition (July 31, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553384066
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553384062
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (121 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Timothy McCall, M.D. is a board-certified internist, the Medical Editor of Yoga Journal and the author of Yoga as Medicine. He teaches yoga therapy seminars around the world, alongside his wife Eliana Moreira McCall, and at their home studio, The Simply Yoga Institute in Summit, New Jersey ( For more information, see, where you can also access more than 100 archived articles, podcasts, and interviews.

In addition, to Yoga as Medicine, Timothy is the author of Examining Your Doctor, a critically-acclaimed consumer health guide. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications, including the New England Journal of Medicine, The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Public Citizen's Health Letter, The Nation, American Health, Redbook (where he was a contributing editor), The Boston Globe, The Philadelphia Inquirer and The Los Angeles Times. From 1996-2001 his medical commentaries were featured on the public radio program Marketplace. His column appeared monthly in the newsletter Bottom Line Health from 1995 to 2003. Excerpts of Examining Your Doctor and well as articles from many of the sources mentioned above can be found on

Timothy has studied yoga since 1995 with Patricia Walden, and more recently, he has been working with Donald Moyer and Rod Stryker. In addition, Timothy travels regularly to India to research yoga, yoga therapy and Ayurveda, and to study with a traditional Ayurvedic Vaidhya (doctor) in Kerala and a Tantric master in Bangalore. In 2004-2005, he spent a year as scholar-in-residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, MA, where he completed the manuscript for Yoga as Medicine.

Timothy is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he also attended medical school. After completing his residency in primary care internal medicine, he practiced for more than 10 years in the Boston area before devoting himself full time to writing and research. His main focus since the year 2000 has been investigating the therapeutic aspects of yoga, as well as the scientific explanations of yoga's effects.

Customer Reviews

Easy to read and very helpful.
Joanne M. Dykstra
It also helped me to see that my "good for me" yoga may sometimes get in the way of my goals.
G. Miller
This book is a must for anyone interested in yoga, not just therapists or teachers.
Tracy Muirhead

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

241 of 244 people found the following review helpful By Theresa Reed on August 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
I have been anticipating the release of this book ever since I saw an ad for it in Yoga Journal. It was touted as "indispensible" and for once, an ad delivered what it promised. Written by the medical editor of Yoga Journal, Timothy McCall M.D., "Yoga As Medicine" offers so much more than a regular book of asanas.

McCall starts by going into some detail about the science behind yoga - giving examples of how yoga can help heal the body. Although he is clear to state that yoga should not take the place of a doctor, he invites the reader to complement their current treatment with yoga. The author also gives good common sense strategies to doing yoga safely (I especially like the cautions about hands on adjustments - I have witnessed people being injured by overly assertive yoga instructors trying to "bend" people into a pose before the body was ready). I also enjoyed reading the chapter on choosing a style and a teacher. Here, McCall lists some of the most well known styles and gives some really good advice to help the reader choose a system that is suited for them.

The third part of the book is the real 'meat'- there are twenty chapters on specific health issues (ex: asthma, IBS, obesity, MS). For each chapter, an experienced yoga teacher (ex: Judith Hanson Lasater, Gary Kraftsow, Patricia Walden) gives their perspective on the issue and how they may have dealt with a student who had the condition. Real life examples are in the book but the author also states that these approaches may not necessarily be right for your condition (for instance, on page xii, he states that Lasater, who wrote the chapter on back pain, was using a case study with sciatica as her example - and may not recommend the featured routine for another student with back pain).
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121 of 122 people found the following review helpful By G. A. BRAVO-CASAS on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Dr. McCall is the medical editor of Yoga Journal and many readers are familiar with his excellent articles in that prestigious publication. In 2002, Yoga Journal asked Dr. McCall to write a book on yoga therapy, but he was already working on Yoga as Medicine for two years. The author is a board-certified specialist in internal medicine and was a practicing physician for more than 12 years in the Boston area. At the beginning, Dr. McCall says that he approached yoga "in the same spirit that I'd brought to salsa dancing and tai chi", but then, as he was deepening into his practice, he began to notice important changes in his posture, his breathing, and many other aspects of his daily life. In 2000, he decided to devote himself full-time to investigate the value of yoga as a therapeutic instrument. He has visited many yoga centres and ashrams in the United States and India, exploring, asking students and instructors about the therapeutic value of their yoga practice, and collecting valuable information that is very difficult to access.

The book consists of three parts. Part 1: "Yoga as Medicine", makes a succinct presentation of the scientific basis of yoga and its contributions to health care. Part 2: " The Practice of Yoga", has numerous tips on how to establish a safe practice, how to choose a safe yoga style, and how to select a teacher. Part 3 " Yoga Therapy in Action", has 20 chapters devoted to a large array of conditions (arthritis, asthma, back pain, cancer, depression, diabetes, HIV/AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and many others). Dr.
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78 of 84 people found the following review helpful By estreeter4life on August 2, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've found an incredible tool here--one that gives hope to a middle-aged, out of shape person that there are real alternatives to western medicine. The scope is encyclopedic but not daunting. The individuals who demonstrate the exercises and poses did not step off a fashion runway; there are real people of all sizes. And unlike the recent article about yoga in Vanity Fair, McCall clearly recognizes that African-Americans practice yoga too. Perhaps if more people read Dr. McCall's book, the failing health system Michael Moore documents in his most recent film would at least be failing a smaller number of people. Thank you, Dr. McCall, for what will be an invaluable resource.
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Format: Paperback
Dr. Timothy McCall is a Western-trained physician and medical editor of Yoga Journal. In this book, he has put together an excellent book detailing the use of yoga as part of a holistic approach towards health and wellness. While his enthusiasm about the positive benefits which can be derived from yoga is strongly persuasive, and given his medical training, he makes a real effort to lay a scientific foundation for the efficacy of yoga.

The heart of Yoga as Medicine lies in Part 3, "Yoga Therapy in Action." In this section, Dr. McCall addresses twenty specific health conditions and concerns, ranging from Anxiety and Panic Attacks to Overweight and Obesity. For each chapter, Dr. McCall has chosen a yoga expert to present a potential approach to that condition. Many of the teachers he has selected are well-known names, including Judith Hanson Lasatar for Back Pain, Gary Kraftsow for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and Rodney Yee for Headaches. In addition to the featured instructor, every chapter also includes "Other Yogic Ideas," which range from insights by other yoga instructors to supplementary yoga tools, and "A Holistic Approach," a boxed and bulleted segment which talks about combining yoga practice with various other factors in managing the conditions.

Overall, this is an exceptional, extremely well-done book which provides a compelling argument for integrating yoga into a holistic approach towards health and wellness; highly recommended!
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