Development and Implementation of a Flexible Yoga Therapy Protocol in the Group Acupuncture Therapy and Modified Yoga (GAPYOGA) Pilot Study

Steffany Moonaz, Tanisha Luthria, Alison M. Whitehead, Donna Mah, Raymond Teets

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic pain is the most common reason U.S. adults seek medical care. Acupuncture and yoga show effectiveness, and a recent study assessed the feasibility of these two modalities for chronic pain at federally qualified health centers. Yoga research is rarely individualized, which is important for chronic pain treatments. Six experienced yoga professionals drew on research and clinical experience to co-create a yoga therapy protocol standardized for replication with flexibility for individual care. Yoga therapy was to be combined with a previously developed flexible acupuncture intervention in a feasibility trial. Categories of practices were identified as relevant and appropriate for chronic pain management in a federally qualified health center. Within each category, specific practices were listed for each provider to select as appropriate. These were based on usefulness for chronic pain, safety, ease of teaching/learning, and cultural appropriateness. The final manual included: (1) stabilizing poses, (2) mobilizing poses, (3) breathing practices, (4) relaxation, (5) mental practices, and (6) applied philosophy. Each participant began with an intake to inform practice selection. Ten subsequent sessions were 30 minutes each, with 1–2 participants receiving simultaneous care. First sessions included diaphragmatic breathing and some physical postures. All practices were adapted. Over 10 sessions, at least one practice from each category was included. Participants were given instructions/images for home practice. Individual charting ensured continuity of care and consistency across sessions. In evidence-informed practice, there exists a tension between replicability and individualization. A flexible protocol allows both. Future application in research and clinical settings will help to determine feasibility and effectiveness. Moonaz et al. Int J Yoga Therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalInternational journal of yoga therapy
Issue number2023
StatePublished - 2023


  • chronic pain
  • evidence-informed practice
  • pragmatic
  • protocol
  • yoga therapy


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