Results from EU Hippocampus Project Unveiled at Instill

Nick and Charlotta recently reported the encouraging results from the 2 year study involving schools in 5 different countries at this year’s Instill. These can be accessed here in PowerPoint format for you to use in your approaches to schools and institutions. In time we will also have an infographic for you to use as well.TYF Instill Hippocampus presentation Nov 19 (1)  It’s an inspiring project and well worth a read.

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Teen Yoga Ambassadors

As climate strikes pepper the land, it strikes me how one little person from Sweden has inspired millions to speak up about what they are passionate about – Mother Earth.

I had the privilege of spending Monday evening with 8 hand-picked young yogis in London. They had all been through a selection process and were chosen for their passion and experience in yoga.

Inspired by Greta Thunberg and the influence she has had in the world, young people are gathering together to offer their solution to the worlds’ problems. These young people have all practised yoga for many years already. Two of them were on the autistic spectrum. They came to be trained to share yoga with their peers in the new programme run by the Teen Yoga Foundation.

Again and again we hear the cry from the young – we are experiencing a mental health crisis,  but what can we do about it?

These brave young souls will be marching forth into the arena of mental health, equipped with specific training to help others, multiplying the wellbeing effect in their school and other contexts.

In yoga we learn how to lift ourselves up, by controlling our minds, by lifting and opening our hearts, we learn how to be well on every level. Part of being well is recognising our interdependence with the planet and each other. Once we recognise this, we can only support others.

There is no separation between us – this profound truth is experienced in meditation, one young person at a time, finding their feet, finding their way, finding their wellness, lifting themselves and others up into light and hope.

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Charlotta contributing to Virtual Yoga Summit 9th-10th October

 
  • What does inclusivity mean within yoga?
  • How does language influence your teaching and therapy practice?
  • How do you approach students and clients dealing with chronic conditions?
  • How can prisoners benefit from yoga?
Charlotta has been invited to contribute to Singing Dragon’s first-ever Virtual Yoga Summit, exploring the theme of Inclusive Yoga across a host of virtual channels throughout two content-packed, educational and interactive days. From social media Q&As and webinars, through articles and podcasts we will be exploring a wide range of topics around inclusivity, and inviting you to participate in the discussion. Highlights include:
  • An article on hosting an LGBTQ+ friendly class from Lana Skrypnyk
  • A live Q&A on body positivity and fighting against the biases in yoga with Donna Noble
  • A webinar from Heather Mason on social prescribing in the UK
  • A live class with Sian O’Neill, which you can follow from wherever you are through our live stream!
  Join us on the 9th and 10th October 2019 by registering for the event. The Virtual Yoga Summit is brought to you in association with our amazing partners: the Minded Institute, the British Council for Yoga Therapy, Yoga Campus, the Life Centre, the Prison Phoenix Trust and Network Yoga Therapy, all of whom are fighting the good fight for more inclusivity and accessibility in yoga.  

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New Mentoring Service Launched

We’ve listened to your needs and are happy to announce our new mentoring service for graduates of the Teen Yoga training. Four highly experienced Teen Yoga teachers are available to you via Skype or Zoom to discuss any issues you may have setting up classes or questions specific to teaching. Suggested donation of £40 per hour for this service, £5 of which goes to the foundation.
Mentor bios below in order to help you choose the best mentor for you:

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World Peace Day 21st September 2019

Support the work of the Teen Yoga Foundation on World Peace Day, 21st September 2019. Here’s how:  
  • Talk to a school about a taster day for World Peace day
  • Mention the evidence that yoga increases social cohesion within a school and in a community.
  • Send out a press release to your local press and let your local MP know.
win – MP looks good and he/she gets involved in our cause in parliament   win – press get a story   win – we raise money   win – you get into a school   win – your work gets noted in the local press, ie best advertising!   Let us know how you get on. Good luck!

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10 Things your teen wants you to know, kinda.

Teen Yoga graduate Niki Moss Simpson recently launched her first book as co-author of the best selling Pay It Forward series: Notes to My Younger Self. Here, in an excerpt from her blog, Niki talks about teens and their needs.

No One ever said parenting was going to be easy, right? And the teenage years are definitely not easy years to parent. A glass of wine, selective hearing & friends as equally confused as you, make it all a little bearable.

But can you remember what it was like to be a teenager yourself? Can you remember how you felt misunderstood, awkward, swinging from one mood to another in the blink of a rolling eye or a loudly voiced disapproving tut?

Well, yes, it’s a different decade & yes, lots has changed & yes, of course you had things much worse but certain things remain the same physiologically including brain, physical & emotional development & these are very much running the messy show in your teens life.

So, grab that glass of wine, settle down in a comfortable chair cos here is what your teen son or daughter wants you to know (kinda)…

To read more of Niki’s blog read here.

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APPG on Yoga – Exchange at the House of Lords

We wanted to share with you an exchange that happened at the House of Lords recently. We hope you enjoy this.
 
“Question 11.22 am
 
Asked by Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe
 
To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will draw up a strategy and campaign for the expansion, particularly in the National Health Service, of access to yoga and its associated health benefits.
 
The Earl of Courtown (Con)
 
My Lords, there is evidence that yoga helps to build strength in healthy adults and can improve health conditions such as high blood pressure. The UK Chief Medical Officers recommend muscle-strengthening activities on at least two days a week, and yoga is one of many activities recommended in their report, Start Active, Stay Active.
 
Lord Brooke of Alverthorpe (Lab)
 
I am very grateful indeed to the noble Earl for such a positive response. I am sure that he will agree with the Secretary of State’s statement last autumn that, if the NHS is to survive, we need more social prescribing by GPs, which will help with the financial position. Given what the noble Earl just said, I am sure he will agree that yoga helps people with mental health problems and back pains, those tackling addictions, and people with obesity—a whole range of subjects. Is he willing to meet a group of representatives to discuss how we might take this forward, particularly in the context of the 10-year programme being drawn up to try to offer people greater movements towards better health while saving the NHS money? I declare an interest as the co-secretary of the All-Party Group on Yoga.
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
My Lords, the noble Lord is quite right about the importance of social prescribing—it can be felt right across the population, particularly in relation to mental health. I agree with my right honourable friend the Secretary of State about social prescribing; that is one of his top priorities. The noble Lord asked whether a meeting could be arranged with me, him and other interested parties. I will pass that request on to the Minister responsible so that they can have a useful conversation.
 
Lord Kirkhope of Harrogate (Con)
 
My Lords, it is acknowledged that yoga is very beneficial for mental health: it provides mindfulness, an ability to make better judgments, to relax, and to take decisions in a sensible and responsible way. In light of that, does my noble friend agree that yoga should now be made obligatory for Members of the House of Commons?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
My Lords, my noble friend makes a very important point about the importance of yoga and the great benefits that it gives to everybody. I have unrolled my yoga mat in my office and am waiting for a lesson from my noble friend Lady Barran, who is a teacher of yoga.
 
Baroness Walmsley (LD)
 
My Lords, there appear to be particular benefits of yoga for older people in improving balance and muscle tone, NICE estimates that falls cost the NHS more than £2.3 billion a year, and we know that older people often become lonely, ​so the mental health and social benefits of going to classes also apply. Given those facts, will the Government encourage yoga for older people?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
Yes, the noble Baroness is quite right. The only proviso as far as that is concerned is that more frail elder people should take great care—the noble Baroness makes a hand movement which I think describes her exercise.
 
Anyway, deep breath! The noble Baroness is quite right about the importance of social prescribing and yoga being of great advantage to the population.
 
Baroness Meacher (CB)
 
My Lords, is the Minister aware that East London NHS mental health trust has for seven years been running and evaluating sports programmes—including yoga, but also many other activities—for people with severe mental health problems? I shall give an example: 100% of those involved in its boxing programme for forensic patients—those with severe mental health problems and a criminal history—have achieved a significant improvement in their mental health and well-being. Will he make NHS England aware of the work in East London and issue guidance to mental health trusts across the country that they should all run a range of sports programmes for people with severe mental health problems?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
The noble Baroness is quite right: the importance of those various forms of activity is well felt. I do not know the event that she described, but I know that Haringey CCG has created a better care fund to improve health and social care services for older people, particularly those with long-term health conditions. Strength and balance is one of the programmes funded by that partnership; that goes back to the question of the noble Baroness, Lady Walmsley. I will of course make that point to the department, but more and more areas are getting involved in social prescribing, which is promoted by my right honourable friend the Secretary of State and is without doubt doing a great job.
 
Lord Stone of Blackheath (Lab)
 
My Lords, I have just discovered that you can do downward dog on these Benches: I invite noble Lords to join me. With the evidence showing that yoga and mindfulness can be good for preventing and curing illnesses, both physical and mental, what progress has been made with the establishment of a national academy for social prescribing? Will representatives of yoga and mindfulness practice be on it?
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
Yes, my Lords, engagement with stakeholders on the national academy for social prescribing has already begun and they are being consulted. The academy is under development. I have asked the department and NHS England whether representatives of yoga and mindfulness will be engaged in its development.
 
Baroness Thornton (Lab)
 
My Lords, I can bear witness to the efficacy of workplace yoga, as I attended many of the lunchtime sessions organised by my noble friend for seated yoga before the Christmas break. I ​enjoyed them very much and commend them to all Members of the House. Noble Lords will be very relieved to know that MPs, Peers and other staff were not required to don their Lycra during lunchtime. Is the Minister aware of the amount of workplace yoga being encouraged for NHS staff for not only their mental but their physical well-being, for those who have to lift heavy weights and so on? That programme should be rolled out across the whole NHS.
 
The Earl of Courtown
 
The noble Baroness makes a good point. What she did not mention is how good yoga is for stress, and how to reduce one’s stress levels with movement, breathing and meditation. I know that yoga classes are available in various workplaces, but I was not aware of the NHS programme. I will, of course, bring it to the attention of the department.”

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Royal Seal of Approval

His Royal Highness Prince Charles said yesterday, “By its very nature, yoga builds discipline, self-reliance and supports self-care – all of which contribute to improved health. Indeed practised within a group, it has tremendous social benefits as well”. These words were spoken at the first national conference on yoga in healthcare that occurred last weekend in London where I was speaking about yoga for young people. His words bring support to those who have practised yoga for a long time and might open the door to this majestic practise to those who are looking to prolong and increase their quality of life. There is a movement for yoga to be included in school curricula and also for it to be prescribed by doctors in GP surgeries to help with various specific conditions. This may well change our perspective on healthcare from relying on outside help and support to taking control and power over our own health.

When we come into a space to move together, ground ourselves, feel into our aches and pains and work out how to relieve them by ourselves, controlling the breath and the emotions, to end in deep relaxation together, we can become masters of our destiny.

Yoga teaches us to accept ourselves as we are, embracing us into a peaceful community. When we accept ourselves unconditionally, we will accept others without judgment or criticism. This leads to a pleasant life and an effortless sharing of peace.

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Yoga Changed My Life – A Manifesto For Change

This weekend was the inaugural conference on yoga in healthcare. It had me thinking. When we say, “Yoga changed my life”, what do we mean? Which aspect was it that actually shifted my state so profoundly? What is it that is so healthful and that works so deeply?

Is it the movement? Is it feeling stronger and more flexible in my body, feeling more alive? Undoubtedly!

Is it the breath, being able to control my emotions and thoughts to some small degree by using my breath. Learning that I can drop my cortisol levels and my heart rate, by using the breath – most certainly!

Is it calming the mind, learning to respond in a more socially acceptable way, in a kinder way? That helps.

Is it meditation? The knowing that there is a deep, calm space inside me where I can rest whenever I want to? For sure, this helped me a lot.

Is it the chanting, that opens the heart and sublimates emotion to devotion? Oh, this has been so blissful for me at times!

Is it the touch of the yoga teacher and the soothing voice? When are we touched without any request? When are we spoken to in comforting, gentle voice? When are we given permission to let go, to surrender to the greater good, to Mother Earth, to the guru within ourselves?

Is it the simple Namaste at the end? The light/Divine in me sees the light/Divine in you. To be Divine, to be recognised as Divine. How could we not be moved by this? To be brought into the numinous, the holy, magical and mystical part of ourselves and of life – enriching and deepening.

Or is it the effect of being told everything we want, everything we desire, is already here within us? We are already perfect. We have nothing more to be or do. This deeply peaceful state of being certainly helps.

But as I watch my ageing mother, alone and sick and my burgeoning teens go out in the world, I understand, it is the community that brings belonging, brings meaning and brings connection, which enriches their lives and places them in a meaningful space which keeps them well.

So it is for me too. The community that is committed to silent communion in truth – Sat-Chid-Ananda. This. Brings. Solace. This. Brings. Healing. This gives us permission to develop a secure attachment to ourselves and those around us sometimes for the first time in our lives.

To be surrounded by others who are dedicated to service for the greater good and who naturally see each other with an unconditional positive regard (Carl Rogers).

Most definitely. Coming into authenticity, truth, light within ourselves makes us feel complete and content. We become acutely aware when it is absent. We seek out others, who carry that light of truth, who somewhere have touched upon contentment, touched upon the lack of constant hunger to please, to desire, to need, to be acknowledged, but content in itself, can rest for a while in calm.

For me – paying attention to myself and coming into meditation is this space of calm. But more, so much more is the beauty of a group of souls together who are all resting in calm and beauty and truth. We co-regulate ourselves into this space. A greater consciousness permeates us as a group. Satsang.

This is the kernel of how yoga changed my life, it is at the centre of it all and I am constantly looking to rest in that space of satsang. A bright, light community where grasping and transaction drop away. Where just being is enough.

When yoga becomes transactional, when it becomes a product to be sold, when it moves into spheres where these actions are normal, we need to remain strong and remain in our satsang in order to not fall into this group thought of hunger and grasping. How do we do that?

By strengthening our bonds with each other in satsang, in trust and support, having each other’s back, recognising again and again tat twam asi (I am that, we are one). Standing together in love.

“They live in wisdom who see themselves in all and all in them, who have renounced every selfish desire and sense craving tormenting the heart.” (Bhagavad Gita 2:54)

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Community

Today I am celebrating my 53rd birthday with 30 people. This event makes me aware of community, as my friends and family come together to blow up balloons, cook, pick flowers, make coffee and lay the table for 30 guests from near and far.

In a world which deifies the individual, the word community has become a precious concept. In the light of recent events, we are reminded of the importance of solidarity, unity and selfless action which lie at the core of a compassionate society.

A compassionate society is a successful society. When we can trust our neighbour, when we can feel empathy for our fellow human and when we feel able to support a stranger in the face of adversity, we fill a void that cannot be filled by the next i-Phone.

Our human connection is at the core of beauty, grace and love. It elevates us above being mere consumers and makes us into living, breathing, precious entities, that make a difference. We cease to see another human in terms of what he’s wearing or driving, but instead by the light in her eyes, by the generosity of spirit and by the openness of heart.

But all we need to do is look at how any ecosystem works, to understand we cannot and will never function as individuals in a cold world, it is simply not possible, we need each other, we need a mother to be born from, we need friends to lean on, we need other individuals to help us along in life – we are in fact never alone. There is always someone to be grateful for.

Our community is who we are. On our own we have little power, little meaning and little hope of understanding the true value of being human.

So we need to look up and into the eyes of others, smile and say hello – acknowledging this precious life we have a little more often! Personally, I’m off to blow up some more balloons!

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