As part of our Meet The Singing Dragon Author series, we speak to authors to discuss their motivation for entering their respective industries, inspiration for writing their books, what challenges they faced and who they would recommend their books to. Is there a specific Singing Dragon author you would like to hear from? Let us know in the comments or join the conversation using #MeetTheSDAuthor.
Dr. Steffany Moonaz, author of Yoga Therapy for Arthritis
How did you become interested in yoga therapy? Were there any challenges you faced in entering this industry?
I started working as a yoga therapist before I knew what yoga therapy was. After my 200-hour training, I was hired by Johns Hopkins University to help develop a yoga program for people with arthritis. My training was essentially safe, but largely inadequate to meet their needs, so we learned from each other. I brought the fullness of my yoga training and they brought the fullness of their arthritis, and together we figured out what worked, what was most helpful, what needed further adaptation. Since then, with additional training as both a yoga therapist and a scientist focusing exclusively on this population, I’ve come a long way. I’m proud to say that since learning about yoga therapy, I’ve been actively involved in the professionalization of the field and its representation in the broader movement of integrative health. There was so little work being done specifically in arthritis when I got my start, despite how prevalent it is. I was basically handed my dharma and have been following it ever since.
What inspired you to write the book?
Many people have asked me to write a book like this over the years. I am rare in being a practicing yoga therapist, yoga researcher, and yoga teacher trainer in this area and people wanted ways to access that collective information and perspective. What I thought people wanted- a book of pose adaptations- was not the book I wanted to write. Frankly, while necessary, the pose modifications are not the most interesting or powerful aspects of the work. So I agreed to write the book if it could progress along the koshas with a whole-person perspective and include personal stories from lives transformed by the work. And I was doubly convinced to write it when Erin Byron offered to co-author it and bring my years of research and experience into a cohesive package for multiple audiences.
What did you enjoy about writing the book?
I woke up every morning at 5am for a year to work on the book. Erin gave me short assignments based on our book outline, so I had something concrete to tackle every morning. During that year, I suffered a traumatic brain injury, moved across states due to my mother’s cancer (temporarily splitting up my family), and ultimately helped nurse my mother to her passing. It was an incredibly unsettling year, but I finished the book and I dedicated it to her. I am not only proud of the finished product, but the tapas (inner fire; steadfast discipline) it took to get it across the finish line.
Who would you recommend the book to?
It was important to me that the book serve three distinct audiences: people with arthritis, yoga professionals, and healthcare providers. Some aspects of the book will appeal to one audience more than another, but I feel confident that there is a lot of useful information for anyone interested in this topic- personally and/or professionally. Interestingly, a lot of my audience consists of yoga professionals with arthritis. They want to keep practicing, keep teaching, and serve others with the tools of yoga that have served them in managing their disease. Arthritis is so prevalent that any yoga professional should have a rudimentary understanding of it, and yoga is so popular that health professionals should know how it applies to their patients.
Dr Steffany Moonaz and Erin Byron. Foreword by Dr. Clifton O Bingham III, MD
Arthritis limits physical mobility while also impacting energy and mental health. Focusing on mental practice and physical postures for a whole-person approach, this guide will support yoga teachers, therapists and health professionals in working with individuals to live differently with arthritis, as well as those individuals themselves.
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