The Yoga in Healthcare Conference was held at the University of Westminster London on the 15th - 17th February 2019. The purpose of this conference was to discuss how the yoga and the medical communities can collaborate together to incorporate yoga into the National Health Service (NHS), the UK national health care system. The Yoga in Healthcare Conference was the first ever conference focused on bringing yoga into UK’s mainstream health care system.
Key leaders in yoga, health care, yoga research, health policy, and government addressed how, by joining together, the NHS can be transformed through the integration of yoga. Heather Mason, founder of Minded, opened the conference with a letter of support from the Prince of Wales who stated that yoga “has proven beneficial effects on both body and mind” and could help save the NHS “precious and expensive” resources.
- Dr. Ned Hartfiel, a health economics researcher from Bangor University, highlighted the cost-effectiveness of yoga while Dr. Amit Bhargava, a GP partner at Southgate Medical Group and clinical chief officer of the Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group, focused on current financial constraints of the NHS. Dr. Tina Cartwright discussed the UK Yoga Survey and Yoga4Health Programme research projects currently being conducted at the University of Westminster, London. Lord Brooke and Lord Stone discussed considerations about integrating yoga into society. Both, along with Heather Mason, were instrumental in the creation of the Yoga in Healthcare All-Party Parliamentary Group.
Throughout the Yoga in Healthcare Conference, each speaker referenced the NHS’ 10-year Long Term Plan, launched in January 2019. In it, the NHS announced its plan to move from an illness towards a wellness model, focusing on a whole system of care. Decisions regarding care, illness prevention and self-care techniques are to become part of the renewed patient-GP relationship. The 10-year plan includes measures to empower patients to look after themselves. It is an ambitious plan - to change the lifestyle behaviour of the UK population. It requires patient activation and their readiness to change. Behavioural change is harder to maintain over time. Accountability and positive experiences are needed.
“The answer is yoga” said Dr. Michael Dixon, the Chairman of the College of Medicine. Yoga helps to promote self management while creating community. Various global evidence based research studies have proven that yoga can be used to improve the lives of those suffering from non-communicable diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, anxiety, depression, eating disorders and loneliness. This is why adding yoga into the NHS under social prescription is an important initiative.
So, what can you do?
- Contact your local GP and Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG). Ask them to add yoga as part of NHS’ social prescribing activities.
- Write a letter to your local Member of Parliament (MP) or politician. Explain to them how yoga improved your life and ask them to add yoga as part of NHS’ social prescribing activities.
- Invite your local Member of Parliament (MP) or politician to a yoga event. Let them experience first hand the benefits of yoga.
- Make a donation to the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance to help continue their groundbreaking work.
- Hopefully, this time next year, Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCG) will be offering yoga on prescription to everyone in the UK to enhance their mental and physical wellbeing.