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UN International Yoga Day in Parliament

Press Release

Bob Blackman MP, Chair of APPG Indian Traditional Sciences
hosts International Yoga Day at British Parliament

For Immediate Release

UN international yoga day logo square

 

“Yoga to be integrated within the NHS” was the unanimous appeal made by yoga practitioners, health care professionals, community leaders, education professionals, researchers and parliamentarians at the 2nd International Day of Yoga celebrations in the Houses of Parliament, UK. The programme was hosted by Bob Blackman MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group of Indian Traditional Sciences and was joined by fellow parliamentarians, Conservative MP Matthew Offord (Hendon) and Labour MP Virendra Sharma (Southall & Ealing). The High Commissioner of India, His Excellency Mr. Navtej Sarna, the Chief Guest on the day elaborated the origins and significance of United Nations International Yoga Day. This vision was encapsulated by United Nations General Secretary, Ban Ki Moon “By proclaiming 21 June as the International Day of Yoga, the General Assembly has recognized the holistic benefits of this timeless practice and its inherent compatibility with the principles and values of the United Nations”.  

Recognising the greater need for Yoga within the health care and school curriculums, Bob Blackman tabled an early day motion 215:
That this House celebrates the 2nd International Day of Yoga, on 21 June 2016, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015; recognises yoga4nhs01 smlthat yoga is a multi-dimensional approach to encouraging well-being, which appreciates the link between physical and psychological health and lifestyle; appreciates that yoga is a reflective and non-invasive practice, which is appropriate in all stages of life; recommends yoga to be included as part of mindfulness and well-being initiatives for NHS staff and for yoga to be integrated within treatment for patients; and urges the Department for Education to introduce yoga in the school physical education curriculum.”

In the UK, a growing percentage of the population practices Yoga and research finds that its practice promotes lifestyle factors, which reduce risk of chronic disease, while also reducing symptoms of many chronic mental and physical conditions.

The programme was conducted by the Secretary of the APPG for Indian Traditional Sciences Amarjeet Bhamra who introduced the speakers and welcomed the guests, “It is absolute privilege for us to have the presence of HE The High Commissioner of India Mr Sarna with us along with the members of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences to move forward our agenda of Yoga into the NHS. The efforts and support received from Bob Blackman MP and his office, in this very important initiative has been incredible. I welcome Matthew Offord MP and Virendra Sharma MP for having joined in and supporting the APPG in its efforts.”

Founder of The Minded Institute, Heather Mason MA co-conducted the programme along with the Amarjeet and gave an overview on the need for integration of Yoga into the NHS. She said, “Yoga practice is correlated with positive health outcomes and its integration into the health services would yoga4nhs hoc1reduce the economic burden associated with non-communicable diseases. Yoga practice is correlated with positive health outcomes and its integration into the health services would reduce the economic burden associated with non-communicable diseases. There is a large and strong corpus of research evidence supporting yoga's efficacy in the management of chronic conditions.” 

The evening saw a number of Yoga breathing and simple relaxation demonstrations by leading Yoga practitioners at the event with everyone chanting the Om and joining in the various relaxation, meditation and breathing demonstrations led by practitioners. The personal journey of success of defying cancer by the use of Yoga and Meditation was shared by Neil Patel, Founder, Director and Grandmaster at Chi Kri and Chi Kri Classes (Ltd) UK. This was followed by various contributions on the scientific evidence on the value of yoga in day to day life and its proven benefits. He asked “why no investigation is being done by the NHS into how yoga can prevent and overcome cancer in the UK. By 2020, 1 in 2 people will get cancer in their lifetime in the UK (According to new figures from McMillian), it is time other methods were looked at. Currently it is ILLEGAL to help people with cancer in the UK other than by 3 methods (Chemo, Radio and Surgery via the NHS). Thus, even if you find a cure, you will be locked up or fined for saving or claiming to save or even help anyone.”

Pandit Satish K Sharma MBCS FRSA, a yogi and General Secretary of National Council for Hindu Temples discussed “the need for the sks yoga4nhs hoc1highest standards of integrity from Yoga practitioners since something as powerful as Yoga Practice could harm as well as heal. Because Yoga is transformational unlike all other bodies of knowledge, knowing is not enough – one must only teach to the degree determined by one’s own experience and ability, one can only help support someone else’s transformation to the degree that you too have mastered that specific stage and practice. The Yamas and Niyamas of Yoga, which are the foundations of all practice, are not optional – they will determine what you can learn and thus, what you can and should teach.”

Representing the medical fraternity, Dr.Matt Joslin, a GP from Manchester said, “My own personal practice of yoga has lead me to introduce yoga as a option for patients to add to their toolkits to help manage their illnesses and maintain physical and psychological wellbeing. This option is met with enthusiasm when introduced in a patient centred way with a collaborative approach. All members of the team in our primary care organisation, from reception staff through to visiting locum doctors are invited to attend a yoga class with me. This broadens the base of "yoga prescribers" and creates a culture where yoga is seen as part of "usual care".​ An endorsement of yoga by a healthcare professional under the banner of the NHS is powerful message to patients. The social media response to my "yoga prescription" demonstrates that people are engaged with this debate.”

Goran Boll spoke (via skype) about the success of Yoga in Swedish Hospitals. He said, “Yoga has already been implemented into the Swedish NHS. From 2010-2016 more 150 hospitals, primary care- and specialist clinics have started using yoga on their patients. The projection for 2020 is 5-600 NHS units, and we see a similar development all over Scandinavia. Yoga is used on heart patients, for pain management, eating disorders, cancer rehab, in psychiatry, treatment for the elderly, and in palliative care. The yoga instructors in the Swedish NHS are mostly physic therapists, nurses and doctors, having taken up to 2 years of yoga training. The basis for this development in Sweden is scientific research on yoga, since 1998.”

Dr. Gangadhar from Depart of Psychiatry,NIMHANS Bangalore (via skype) discussed the present state of affairs for Yoga & Healthcare in India. He said, “Practicing yoga lifestyle not only promotes better mental health but also reduces illnesses and their symptoms. Substantial evidence is available to objectively demonstrate the benefits of yoga and these are well documented in scientific research. Being non-invasive, it has best potential for integration with other treatments and such integration has already happened at NIMHANS for mental and neurological disorders.” 

Dr. Tina Cartwright, Senior Lecturer at University of Westminster spoke said “Surveys in the US and Australia have shown that around a fifth of yoga practitioners report using yoga for specific health conditions, with the majority perceiving yoga as helpful in improving or managing their health.” She added, “Yoga is most commonly used for musculoskeletal problems, mental health conditions and stress management.” Discussing the Big UK Yoga Survey, she said, “There has been no equivalent detailed survey of yoga practice in the UK. The recently launched Big UK Yoga Survey investigates why people practice yoga, how they practice and how they feel it affects their health and well-being. The results of the survey will suggest where yoga might be most beneficial and what research is needed in the future.” 

Dr. Fiona Butler representing the ‘Yoga for Underserved Population’ from NHS West London Clinical Commissioning Group shared that “the College of Medicine is pleased to be part of the collaboration looking at the cost effectiveness of bringing more therapeutic yoga to the UK and NHS, researching its beneficial impact on emotional and physical health and on chronic conditions such as back pain, depression and stress, obesity.” She highlighted the need for prevention and self-care as key to ensure sustainability of NHS. “We need to reduce numbers of people at risk of life style related long term conditions and return people to a state of wellness . This means thinking out of the box, being open minded and embracing new ideas for healing that are cost effective and have evidence base.” Speaking about the Yoga for Underserved Population she said, “We particularly want to reach underserved communities and help health inequalities, and the college is committed to research the benefits of therapeutic yoga in areas of social deprivation where lifestyle factors such as poor diet and stress, and social isolation have an adverse effect on health and people are least likely to access holistic care.”

Dr. Ned Hartfield discussed the cost benefits of Yoga for the NHS – “Each year the NHS loses over 5 million sickness absence days due to back pain and musculoskeletal conditions, costing the NHS more than £600 million. Recent research shows that yoga programmes - involving specific movements, breathing techniques and relaxation methods - are highly effective for reducing back pain and musculoskeletal conditions. A recent randomised controlled trial involving 151 NHS employees in North Wales showed that a yoga programme was not only effective in reducing back pain, but also cost-effective in decreasing the number of sickness absence days due to back pain and musculoskeletal conditions.  In this study, yoga participants missed only 2 days due back pain and musculoskeletal conditions over a six month trial period, compared to 43 missed days in the control group.”   

Jo Manuel speaking about the role of yoga in the education system said, A study conducted by NASUWT (the largest teachers’ union in the UK) in 2016 surveyed over 5,000 teachers and found that over three quarters (79%) had reported experiencing work related anxiousness; almost half (47%) of teachers have seen a doctor in the last 12 months as a result of work related physical or mental health problems, 14% have undergone counselling and 5% have been admitted to hospital. 10% of teachers say they have been prescribed anti-depressants to help them cope; shockingly, 2% of teachers say they have self-harmed as a result of work-related pressures.”

Jo added, “NHS Clinincal commission in Havering commissioned a mindfulness programme from Special Yoga Foundation for their 6 hours of training and a daily yoga and midfulness practise delivered with audio and visual materials created this result in 6 weeks: Increase in high wellbeing from 8 to 20 % Drop in low wellbeing from 14 to 4 %.”

To end the evening, Venerable Dr. H R Nagendra, the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Yoga consultant spoke (via skype) to the participants and discussed the importance of yoga. Lakshmi Kaul from Bob Blackman MP’s office extended a vote of thanks to a packed audience and read out the following resolution that was ratified by all:

“Create fraternity, a sangha, of yoga experts and leaders encompassing all schools of yoga who unify towards under the umbrella of this traditional practice. This group will collectively work within and embody the ethos of yoga. That this group will pool their wisdom and possess a communal platform to share ideas and promote the practice of yoga in the UK towards the highest good. This group will collectively act as advisor to the country on how to bring yoga to the public in healthcare, education, and the workplace to enhance public well-being. This group will liaise and development networks with India, other nations, and the World Health Organisation.”

***End***

For more information, contact:

Lakshmi Kaul
Email:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Office of Bob Blackman MP

Amarjeet S Bhamra
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

All Party Parliamentary Group on Indian Traditional Sciences has been set up “To promote and facilitate informed discussion on issues concerning all Indian traditional sciences practised in the UK (Ayurveda, Jyotish, Indian classical music, Siddha, Unani, Vastu, Yoga etc) within Parliament by providing a forum for cross-party parliamentarians, senior policy makers, academics, leading community figures and other stakeholders.”
Co-Chairs: Bob Blackman MP (Conservative) and Virendra Sharma MP (Labour & registered contact)
Vice Chairs: Tom Brake MP (Liberal Democrat), Lord Rana (Crossbench), Lord Stone of Blackheath (Labour), Lord Hussain (Liberal Democrat), Baroness Uddin (Non Affiliated), Lord Patel of Blackburn (Labour), Lord Bilimoria (Crossbench).

 

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