Bringing yoga into the community and accessible to all
The Yoga4Health 10 week course is being offered nationally. I have recently guided 5 cohorts and felt it valuable to share my experiences to encourage teachers to undertake the training, encourage patients to enrol on the programme and most importantly to do what I can to influence funding of future courses.
I started teaching the 10 week NHS endorsed Yoga4Health protocol Sep/Oct 2019. 4 courses have completed before Christmas 2019 and 1 course is continuing to end Jan 2020.
To date, 35 participants have completed the course with me as their guide. All are reporting positive changes in their physical and mental health.
As their guide on this journey, it has been a delight and pleasure to see and hear such positive change in the practitioners. Many reporting 'transformation' with many also reporting a reduction in their stress and anxiety and vast majority have more awareness of their breath now in their everyday lives. The value of this is that they have learnt how to regulate their breath to change their state of being. Noticing also arising sensations in the body and making adjustment to have more comfort and ease in the moment and understanding also that everything is transient. Change is the only constant. Finding comfort in the discomfort and knowing that everything passes.
Evidenced based yoga
This is evidence based yoga and this protocol has been designed by leading experts in the field of yoga therapy. I continue to collate feedback from my participants primarily to pass back to practice managers and link workers to further evidence that this protocol works and could lead to significant cost savings as patients present to GP surgeries less frequently.
The course specifically targets improving the autonomic nervous system and in particular heart rate variability (HRV) and vagal tone. Science is confirming that low HRV and vagal tone increases the risk of developing many conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardio and circulatory issues and many other functional disorders (a disorder where there is no pathological cause). Often those with functional disorders also experience inflammation and auto immune disorders. Everything linked which is why yoga works - we are treating the whole person. Improving the function of the body, lowering inflammation and also soothing the mind. Yoga is the practice of ancient wisdom and is proven to also change neurology which in turn has great influence on the function of the body. A 2 way street and carving out new neurological pathways (motorways in the head). Improving brain function and may delay the onset of neurological disorders.
Reducing chronic pain
Although this protocol is not suitable for those in acute pain, those with chronic pain are reporting considerable improvements in their symptoms and perceived pain. Where chronic pain is not entirely eradicated, there has been a change in the perspective. The individuals reporting that they are more accepting and more compassionate towards themselves and from this position of an improved attitude of Self, practitioners are more confident to explore opportunities and new challenges without the same fear and in-trepidation.
Post course, many practitioners continue to report improvements. Specifically improvements have been reported in the symptoms relating to sciatica, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, fibromyalgia, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), endometriosis, Lyme disease, Lupus and muscular skeletal issues including head, neck, shoulders, hips, knees and feet.
Other benefits reported include improved sleep, improved menopausal symptoms, more desire to take time out for themselves without guilt or judgement and more thoughts and feelings of gratitude.
Many reporting that they feel an overwhelming sense of calm and inner peace
With the weekly commitment to class and the encouraged home practice, the benefits of yoga are compounded, there is a greater sense of connected to themselves and feeling more in the here and now.
When we are connected better to ourselves we can connect better to others and this gives rise to this sense of inner calm without it being the goal or objective. The inner calm reveals itself in the not doing and the not trying. At the end of the 10 weeks this is really understood in many and this is so satisfying for me as their guide, they realise they can help themselves. The idea that they can let go by feeling the support of the ground and the space they occupy. Trusting more and less pulling and pushing their bodies around to fit to preconceived ideas of what yoga poses should look like.
Forming social connections with others
My responsibility on completion of the course is to ensure practitioners are signposted onto other suitable classes. On completion of the course the participant has likely improved their self efficacy however, there is a strong desire to stay connected to each other so fostering relationships is another valuable outcome from the course.
We know that social isolation is adding to the rise of chronic disorders mind and body.
Let's get together, let's secure the funding and let's make yoga accessible to all.
What some of the past participants are saying
I felt safe in my practice, the teacher taking full account of any injuries or restrictions that a person has, without making you feel self conscious. Made me feel like we are all on this journey together and there is no speed requirement - you move at your own pace. I love attending the classes and have really found it has helped my anxiety and Fibromyalgia.
To date, I have had difficulty securing funding to deliver the protocol to patients referred to me by GPs and Link Workers. Many of the past practitioners have been self funding or I have been gifting the course to those in need and unable to self fund.
Going forwards it is hoped that the CCG or the individual practices will provide funding.
With the introduction of the personal health care budgets, it may be that patients themselves opt to spend their budget on the protocol - time will tell and results from the West London CCG trial of the protocol are due anytime soon so this may further influence.
I have no further courses scheduled at this time. Likely more will be scheduled after the Easter. Please get in touch if you would like to be added to the wait list or please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details of other yoga4health courses being offered in your area.
I look forward to working with any other teachers that have trained in the Yoga4Health protocol as it may be advantageous to start a Community Interest Company. If you would like to be part of this initiative as we strive to bring yoga into healthcare across Brighton & Hove, please do get in touch.