For Jeffrey Manning, the pursuit of a career in complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) continues to unfold naturally.
Manning is a second trimester student in the chiropractic medicine program at National University of Health Sciences’ Lombard, Ill. campus. He began practicing yoga in 2000, and soon learned that he had no more pain from either the extreme sports he enjoyed, or military injuries earned during his service as a U.S. Army Paratrooper.
During his undergraduate studies, he discovered yoga.
“At the time, I was earning a bachelor’s degree in recreation therapy,” he said. “I went to a lesson with my wife one evening. Yoga seemed to have something for everyone, and that’s what attracted me to bringing it to a bigger audience. I could see yoga as being beneficial to the clients I was working with at my hospital internship.”
In 2001 he began teaching yoga at the University of Idaho, and after graduation moved his wife and family to Sonoma, Calif., where he began his career as a Recreation Therapist. During this time, he also began studying at the Iyengar Yoga Institute of San Francisco in the teacher-training program.
In 2006 he became a massage therapist.
In 2009 Jeff opened his own yoga studio, The Aurora Yoga Center. Read on to find out more about Jeff’s unique health care journey.
Q: What made you decide to pursue becoming a chiropractic physician?
A: For me, it was a natural progression of everything I had done up to this point in my life. I have always been interested in healthcare and the human body. As a high school student I worked as a lifeguard (first aid), after high school graduation I joined the Army as a paratrooper, after my military service I became an EMT-B. Then, I pursued a degree in recreational therapy, which led to working in short- and long-term scenarios in psychiatric facilities. During which time I began studying and teaching yoga, and later became a massage therapist. My whole life, I loved reading anatomy and physiology books, I enjoyed seeing results in practice working with yoga students and massage therapy clients who found relief or gained freedom and movement back in their lives. I’ve always been eager to learn and I was ready for the next step, becoming a doctor.
Q: Why did you choose NUHS?
A: I was hitting the limits of my scope of practice. The longer I was in practice as a therapeutic yoga instructor and massage therapist, the more complex cases were coming to me. It got to where the clients’ ailments superseded my scope of practice. At the same time, my youngest child was suffering from recurrent ear infections. He was having negative reactions to antibiotics and we needed to find a solution. His doctor recommended tubes for his ears, however a friend of ours went through a similar scenario with their young son and they recommended chiropractic care. We took our son to a chiropractor who specializes in young children, and we got great results. He no longer had ear infections, didn’t need the antibiotics, and avoided surgery for tubes. The more I learned about chiropractic medicine, and how it works with the nervous system, the more I realized I didn’t know about the human body. It was a natural progression for me. I understood the muscular and skeletal system, but a deeper understanding of the human body was necessary for me to grow as a health care provider and to help more students and clients. I was happy to learn that NUHS was in the Chicagoland area. Also, a friend of mine went to National University for the acupuncture program, and really loved the school. Healing modalities, bodywork and a holistic approach are my passions: becoming a Doctor of Chiropractic was the next natural step in offering mind, body, and spirit health care.
NUHS places tremendous emphasis on the evidence-based practice of healing, and those methods are all-important to me. I’m learning more about physiology-and it’s fascinating! The human body is amazing. Studying chiropractic medicine, I’m learning a greater understanding of biochemistry, anatomy, nutrition and science. It’s a whole new level of information. The University’s proximity to home also allows me to keep the yoga studio running while I’m in the program.
Q: How will you balance or integrate the yoga studio and being a chiropractic physician?
A: I want to build a holistic system of care offering yoga, massage therapy, chiropractic medicine, recreational therapy, acupuncture, and nutrition all in one suite of patient services. They’re all important to keeping the whole person in good health.
Q: You’ve held some specialized yoga teachers’ training sessions at your studio; what does that entail?
A: It’s kind of a cultural exchange program. NUHS students have a massive knowledge of anatomy–it’s a natural fit for them to share that knowledge with future yoga instructors at the studio and for the yoga student teachers to teach the medical students yoga. Also, yoga instructors need to know how to talk to their holistic health care colleagues, and future chiropractic physicians benefit to learn the art of yoga. Yoga is a very powerful tool, and can be used in a health care setting. There’s a phenomenal symbiotic relationship when these modalities come together — they change and effect one another. I hope that in the future, these doctors will refer patients to yoga, and the yoga teachers will refer students to the chiropractors. When these two approaches come together, they give patients the best resources available. This exchange encourages that.
Q: What is your best advice for individuals considering careers in CAM?
A: For one, to succeed as a doctor, or really for anyone in health care, you have to experience the techniques yourself: you have to do as you teach.
Second, that 99% of our health is our own responsibility; 1% is the practitioner’s responsibility. Our role is to serve as educators, and help people take charge of their own health. Being an educator is all about helping people set attainable plans and goals.