Mala Cunningham, PhD, is the President of Positive Health Solutions and Founder and Director of the Cardiac Yoga Teacher Training Programs. She also works as a Counseling Psychologist in private practice. Dr. Cunningham previously worked in academia where she taught Complementary and Alternative Medicine courses and has worked in the field of Behavioral Medicine for over 25 years. Dr. Cunningham has been teaching and practicing yoga for over 30 years and has been featured in print, radio, and TV. She is the author of Medical Yoga and has produced CD’s entitled Healing Journey and Before and After Surgery: Guided Imagery & Relaxation for Surgery Patients. www.cardiacyoga.com
Presenter Spotlight Q&A: Mala Cunningham
addressing heart disease with medical yoga
Please share what you do in 10-15 words
I have developed a model of medical yoga called Cardiac Medical Yoga that is used for patients with diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke.
Why do you do what you do?
Heart disease is the number-one killer is most countries in the world. Diabetic and heart patients need a modified and medical emphasis for their yoga practice. It is deeply rewarding to see the impact that yoga has on the lives of patients who have a medical condition.
What are you currently fascinated by in your work?
When I started yoga in 1971, it was considered a "fad.” Now, it has come full circle with hospitals and clinics around the world recognizing the tremendous benefit that yoga as to offer for both prevention and rehabilitation issues. It is a very exciting time to be involved in the area of medical yoga.
How did you come to your path? Any aha moments or key teachers?
In the early 1980's, a colleague of mine who was 40-years-old at the time had a heart attack and sadly within cardiac rehab, there was nothing available for him to deal with his stress. Since I was already a yoga teacher and was also studying for my PhD in psychology, I realized that yoga could be used for both mental health and medical issues. It was at that time that I began to format a medical yoga model of care for patients dealing with diabetes and heart disease.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
The Untethered Should by Michael Singer
Have you been to the Yoga Retreat before?
It is always a great pleasure to teach at Sivananda Ashram. I deeply respect the depth of dedication to the yoga practices by the students of Swami Vishnu. It is very inspiring and admirable to see the next generation of yogi's being so dedicated and committed to the principles and philosophy of the ancient yoga practices.