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Yoga in healthcare conference

As an invited workshop presenter in the Yoga in Healthcare Conference, I was most impressed by the standards, quality and superb organisation of this event, the brainchild of Heather Mason, the founder of the Minded Institute. The conference was a landmark is putting Yoga Therapy firmly on the healthcare map in the UK. It really marked the beginning of a new era, where the doors will start to open for yoga in the NHS. From a written welcome address by HRH Prince Charles to comments on the value that yoga can bring to health from the Chief Executive of Public Health England, it's clear that yoga for health is on the national agenda. The event received national press, please review the article from the Telegraph.

Yoga for chronic ailments and particularly for back pain, which affects people of all ages (including pregnant women and new mothers) received special attention. This is the area that Dr Robin Monro has focused on since the early days of the Yoga Therapy Centre in London, which played a pioneering role in the teaching of therapeutic yoga in the UK in conjunction with biomedical care rather than as a mere alternative to it. Interestingly there was a strong coming together of Yoga and Mindfulness as strategies to address stress related disorders as well as anxiety and depression. This coupling, initiated by Professor Jon Kabat Zinn in the USA, affirmed the need to be inclusive and use all the spokes of the Wheel of Yoga rather than just relying on postures with a small component of relaxation and breathing. This is something that we have done from the start in Birthlight Yoga.

The yoga books I wrote (except for the first Yoga for Pregnancy 1997) were shaped by the publishers’ understanding of their market and perhaps do not reflect our comprehensive approach well enough. This is being redressed with new publications in preparation but we also plan to ask permission to disseminate the texts of past Diploma holders who wrote wonderful essays on yoga as a movement and breath combined, and yoga and meditation during pregnancy and beyond birth. Watching the steep growth curves of published research on yoga, including a large number of recent controlled clinical trials, was a reminder that we can and must engage in research to produce evidence related to our practices rather than rely on case studies and testimonies. Our two audits in NHS trusts (Northampton 2004 and London Queen Charlotte 2010) need to be better known. At the conference we were able to distribute the leaflets summarising the data obtained by Birthlight therapist Liz Thompson (together with Lucy Wootton and Janelyn Ong) on Baby Yoga at Bart’s NHS Trust. Liz offered weekly classes to improve services offered to long term in patient babies, working with parents as much as with the babies to reduce stress levels. Study details>.

It was a great pleasure to catch up with many people, some of whom I had not seen since the 1990s, and hear their trajectories in yoga. In my workshop, my focus was on the special contribution that yoga can make both prenatally and postnatally to prevent and/or alleviate anxiety and depression. Since both of these have been increasing sharply in the last two decades, it seems important to address them with both connective practices such as our teaching circles and our use of flow-rhythms producing movement with known effects on the body-mind. The selection of practices from the Yoga tradition that we teach for “instant relaxation", “active bonding”, “prana enhancing” are still innovative compared with mainstream yoga teaching in studios. At this Yoga in Health conference, not only they found a receptive audience but they also found their due place in the current wave of exciting projects and programmes brought together as an inspiring new way of creating and maintaining health and wellbeing for all. Maternity and women’s health, a cornerstone of society’s welfare, were perhaps under-represented and it is our remit as Birthlight teachers to redress this oversight.

Françoise Freedman
Birthlight Founder & Director

To celebrate the success of the conference and to forward the mission of yoga in the NHS, The Minded Institute are offering a 20% discount (until 7 March) for their Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for Chronic Pain CPD. Given that 30% of the UK population suffer from chronic pain, and that yoga's value in this field is significant, we expect it to be one of the biggest areas for growth.

Date: 13 -17 March 2019
Time: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Location: London, UK

Investment: £400 (reduced from £550) until 7 March

Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for Chronic Pain CPD info & booking>


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