Blog | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Doctor yoga

My wife went to a good yoga class the other day. (It was on Yom Kippur, actually, not the most typical yoga class.) I asked my wife what qualities make for a good yoga instructor, and this is what she came up with:
• clarity
• flow
• pacing
• explanation
• kindness

I am biased, of course, but I think that this list summarizes the essential qualities of many different guides, including doctors, nurses, et al.

You can also interpret these terms in various ways. Clarity can be a quality of the practitioner themselves, someone who is transparent, easily read, or of their speech. Flow refers to the transition between parts of the visit, and pacing, to a perception of the patient (or yoga student) as much as to any objective rate. Explanation and kindness, of course, are less susceptible to interpretation.

According to that comparison, we should aim for someone to feel as refreshed and challenged coming out of the health care provider’s office as they do when leaving the yoga studio, meditation space, or house of prayer.

Zackary Berger, MD, ACP Member, is a primary care doctor and general internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. His research interests include doctor-patient communication, bioethics, and systematic reviews. He is also a poet, journalist and translator in Yiddish and English. This post originally appeared at his blog.