Update on the APPG on Yoga in Society

The APPG on yoga in society was inaugurated in the House of Commons on the 22nd March. This a historic moment as it is the only government to introduce this kind of initiative, it follows in the steps of the very successfully APPG on mindfulness and it heralds a new era in acceptance of yoga among the general public.

The aims of the APPG will be thrashed out among the MPS in the coming weeks. The consultants to the group suggest interventions in schools, the NHS, the prison service and the workplace as a salutogenetic intervention that builds health among the British population to alleviate pressures on the strained NHS and schools.

Westminster university are busy measuring interventions and comparing the outcome of mindfulness vs yoga in school settings as well as undertaking a nationwide survey of 2500 yoga practitioners in the uk. The results of these papers will influence how we move forward. Warwick university and Harvard have come together to measure outcome of yoga in the workplace together with the pharmaceutical giant GSK. Currently it is estimated that 7% of the UK population practise yoga and 26% of schools offer it as an after school club or as part of PE. In a trial run by Bangor university it was shown that sick days dropped by an astounding 70% when yoga was introduced to the workplace. It seems that yoga is the magic pill that might finally drive out county towards a compassionate healthy and collaborative future.

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Present Gift

Last week I had the privilege of spending time with 23 students and 7 teenagers in the South of Spain. There was no Wi-Fi, TV or other distractions. It was a good 20-minute uphill hike to the nearest village. We all found the daily meditation and yoga practise a beautiful reminder of how to slow right down and be present.

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Yoga vs Christianity among parents

“Yoga cannot open people’s hearts to God” says Pope Francis. There seems to be some confusion, which cannot be ignored.

Is yoga a religion? Is it contrary to my Christian faith? Does the word God even feature in yoga classes?

Lets be clear! Yoga is a philosophy, a science of well-being, pre-dating Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism (and definitely Christianity!) and deeply influencing them all. Yoga has existed and flourished for thousands of years (maybe 7000). However, in no text or system does yoga require you to have a belief or faith. Rather, it is a system, a science of well being, very different from religions, since yoga incorporates practical applications on how we exercise, breathe, think, relax and eat.

The definition of religion is one of faith and ritual. Yoga, however, is about experience and practise.

For many Christians, particularly Catholics,  mentioning controlling the mind can be a massive trigger. Many parents are scared that the yoga will “control the mind” of their child. We could, instead, talk of calming or stilling the mind, in order for it to be more positive and focussed.

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The end of Sportivate?

Sport England have funded 1 in 7 active graduates of Teenyoga, either by paying for the course or by grants for teaching yoga classes to young people.

However, this is changing. Sportivate was a fund set up after the Olympic Games running for 6 years, to support more interest in sport among young people in England.

2017 sees the end of the Sportivate funding. Last week, I had a meeting with several managers of Sport England. It is clear, that although the funding has come to an end in half of the regions, there is still some funding for Year 7 in 27 regions. These applications need to be in by around the 17th of February.

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Christmas lesson for teens

This time of year, it can feel like we are working against our own bodies, pushing ourselves up out of bed when its dark, taking vitamins, supplements, coffee, chocolate or pro-plus to keep going until the mid-winter feast which pushes us even further into activity and consumption.   I have had the benefit of slowing down almost to a halt this past few weeks and I watch how the teens are pushing themselves to fill in UCAS forms, preparing for Mocks, getting on buses in the dark and coming home in the dark.

As yoga teachers, we are in such a privileged position, we can nourish and care for these precious souls, offering them solace in this frantic time, teaching them to slow down completely. Their bodies are telling them to sleep (91/2 hours per night between 13-19) yet most of our teens sleep on average 6 hours per night.

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Report on NTNU conference in Norway, next steps in research in yoga in schools.

It was an honour to be invited to spend time in the presence of a very small and select committee consisting of the father of Yoga research in schools, Prof. Sat Bir Khalsa, PhD from Harvard Medical School as well as his esteemed colleagues; Dr Shirley Telles from the Patanjali Institute in India, Professor Usha Nayar from Tata Insitute in Bombay, Professor Ingunn Hagen and Associate Professor Gunvor from NTNU, Trondheim Psychology Dept., Antoinetta and her husband Eros from Bologna University as well as research students in the field of yoga and psychology.

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Yoga in the curriculum

In the latest article by the Weekend Telegraph, Ms Pindoria was interviewed about her yoga intervention at Haberdashers Aske’s school.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/09/17/yoga-should-be-on-the-curriculum/

This is a conversation that the yoga community would do well to continue, what are the pitfalls and demands of bringing yoga in to schools?

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Confluence to rise together – the Instill conference

That quiet awkwardness at the beginning of something new. People milling in, some familiar, some not. Faces travelled from India, US, Norway, northern UK to be together celebrating the majesty of yoga. Often being a teacher can be a lonely job, travelling from school to school, teaching yoga because on some subtle level we feel the need and the calling to do so.

Coming together in our “sangha” to listen and speak with uplifting, supportive and encouraging speakers puts yoga firmly on the school map.

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