A Great Start to the BWY Gentle Years Yoga National Research Trial

Hi Everyone, some of you may be aware that we are taking part in an exciting trial around our chair based Gentle Years Yoga class. Here is an article written by Laura Bissell who, along with Jenny Howsam created Gentle Years Yoga;

On  30th June, nine northern BWY Gentle Years Yoga (GYY) teachers met at the Principal Hotel in York for the first Standardisation Training Day in preparation for September’s launch of the NIHR Research Trial classes. The next Standardisation Day will be on 23rd November in Birmingham for research teachers involved in the second wave of classes in 2020 to take place in the southern half of England and Wales.

Laura Bissell and Jenny Howsam opened the day with a yoga centering session, followed by inspiring talks from Chief Investigator Dr Garry Tew and Professor Tim Rapley from Northumbria. Trial Manager Helen Tilbrook, Trial Coordinator Shirley Paul and Research Fellow Laura Howe from York went through the formal process that would be used to recruit patients from GP surgeries and the procedures the yoga teachers would need to follow in order to set up the classes. 

“It was good to hear that the research so far has shown that yoga might be a useful ‘intervention’ with the ability to address multiple health conditions at the same time, simply and at low cost to the NHS’ said BWY teacher Rachel Bayliss from  Chesterfield.  ‘As yoga teachers, we may feel we already ‘know’ this but if this Trial can prove this, then it may lead to more funding and more support for yoga teachers wanting to offer these classes.”

After lunch, Jenny and Laura taught modifications required for a new Age-Related Condition section of the training in response to GPs’ suggestions for inclusion in the Trial and they covered yoga sequences that teachers’ course plans would need to follow for research standardisation and consistency.

“Undertaking the training was a fantastic CPD decision.  The training is inspiring and imaginative and equips you to create your own interesting and layered chair-based yoga sessions’ said Yogasmiths Paul Smith and Stephen Smith from Merseyside.  ‘We have been amazed at the change in the people who attend our classes. People with degenerative disease regain strength in their legs and improve their sitting to standing, those with lung diseases have reported their lung capacity checks have shown good improvement from the breathing exercises, but the most profound change is the mental health of the attendees. Some have reported that the GYY class is the highlight of their week.  It is lovely to watch the friendship groups forming.  They rally around in support of one another.”  

Clare Gardner from Merseyside summed up the day, “l thought the Standardisation days was useful, fun and informative. It was a great day. “

Celia Grieve from Ripon reported “It was so good to meet the other Research Teachers and the organisers of the Trial.  It answered all the questions I had about delivering the classes.  The whole team are enthusiastic and excited about taking this forward.”

“It felt as though the Trial will make an important transformational change’ Stephanie Braysmith from Beverley expressed.  ‘Hopefully one which will spread throughout the whole of the U.K.” 

Mental Health Awareness Week – Mindfulness taster session for UK Bike and Go / Merseyrail – West Kirby

Thank you to all the lovely cyclists that came to our morning Mindfulness taster session. This was held on the cliffs at Cubbins Green in West Kirby. The event was organised by Merseyrail (@Merseyrail) and the UK Bike and Go (@UKBikeandgo) scheme where you can hire bicycles from train stations across the UK.

You can find further details and information on UK Bike and Go here;

https://www.bikeandgo.co.uk

We were pleased to take part in this event to highlight Mental Health Awareness week which runs from 14th -20th May 2018.  The focus this year is on stress and how we cope with it.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

Exercise such as cycling (and yoga!) and a mindful purposeful relaxation meditation practice are great tools in tackling stress and its effects.

Mindfulness of breathing and yoga breathing exercises can help reduce the stress response in the body and help us to find a calmer experience of the present moment.

Research has shown that two thirds of people experience a mental health problem in their lifetime and that stress is a key factor. Finding practices to help reduce stress and to   deal with stressful situations is a helpful way of trying to find a calmer more peaceful experience.

Cubbins Green provided the perfect setting for the guided Mindfulness relaxation session with lots of beautiful birdsong and sunshine!

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Well Being Yoga Fest BWY Congress 2018 23rd-25th March 2018

We had a great time at this years British Wheel of Yoga (BWY) Yoga Fest at Warwick University. We thought we would report back on the weekend to share it with you all.

We arrived at Warwick Uni in the afternoon, checked in to our accommodation and went and picked up our session tickets and welcome packs.

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My first session was with a lovely Italian Yoga Teacher called Elena which was called “Lost in Translation: Intelligent and functional sequencing.” This was a great session with lots of wonderful detailed instruction moving through some simple yet very strengthening movements.

After a delicious lunch was one of the headline sessions of the weekend, a talk by Dr Timothy McCall on the Holistic Science of Yoga Therapy. Dr McCall is an American MD and explained his approach to yoga therapy. He has published a book compiling all of the papers and evidence on the efficacy of yoga for a range of different ailments. To date I think he has a list of 101 conditions that yoga has been proven to help by scientific studies. Here is a link to the list off his website;

101 Health Conditions Helped By Yoga

And here is a link to his website too;

Dr McCall’s website

This talk was then followed by a presentation on the work carried out with the NHS. This was delivered by The Minded Institute’s Heather Mason and was titled Yoga in the NHS. Heather detailed the 10 week NHS pilot scheme that has been run in London and the very positive initial findings from this study. These results will be written up and a paper published in the future. Hopefully this will roll out nationwide! Heather is a director of the Yoga in Health Care Alliance which is a social enterprise, here is a link to their website;

Yoga in Health Care Alliance

On Saturday our first session was with our yoga mamma Carol Price! We did our British Wheel of Yoga training with Carol Price and Paul Fox in Salford and are good friends with both of them. We always call Carol our Yoga Mamma! The session was a beautiful flowing sequence focusing on Dividing the Yogic Body. There is always something to learn from great teachers such as Carol and we came away with plenty of ideas for our classes!

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The next session we attended was a very interesting and informative session with Jo Creaser about Social Prescribing / working in a deprived area of Norfolk. This was an informal conversational session and it was great to learn how Jo had brought yoga to deprived areas in Norfolk and the continuing good work she is doing with people of all ages. Here is a link to Jo’s website;

The Yoga Nook

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Another headline session followed delivered by the American author Elliot Goldberg who wrote the fantastic book The Path of Modern Yoga. Elliot talked about some of the key players in the field of yoga and the development of traditional yoga into the modern yoga class we know and love. Elliot’s book is a wonderful read and busts a lot of myths about yoga and its origins!

The British Wheel of Yoga AGM followed with a presentation on all the hard work and progress made by the NEC over the last year. It made us feel very proud to be members of the BWY.

The next session for me was an Ashtanga Yoga workshop with Scott Johnson and Andy Gill. I was so glad that they were here again after attending their great sessions last year. They are such intelligent and intuitive teachers and their approach to Ashtanga is very inspiring. With the help of my good friend Sharlene I was able to fold forwards into the most comfortable and deepest version of Paschimottanasana that I had ever done!

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In the evening there was a very entertaining lesson in Argentine Tango! This fitted in perfectly to the Yoga Fest, the mindful movement of the body to the music really resonated with the yoga practitioners and teachers present. I had the pleasure of dancing with two lovely people, Nina (pictured below) and a Yoga Teacher from Southport called Pam. Next stop Strictly Come Dancing!

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After the clocks turning forward an hour overnight the 6am Ashtanga Yoga class was tough to get up for but I managed it. In reality it was 5am to my body clock! The class was led by Scott Johnson and Andy Gill and was a lovely way to start the morning. Here is a link to their websites;

Scott Johnson Still Point Yoga London

Andy Gill

We had a little break then in the sunshine and had some fun being photographed!

After a final session on Wellbeing and Yoga Therapy and we then attended the closing of the weekend with a talk from The Indian High Commissioner and Amarjeet Bhama from the All Party Parliamentary Group on Traditional Indian Science. The UK is at the forefront of trying to integrate yoga into health care and this is an emerging area to look  out for!

A leisurely trip home along the A-roads through Cheshire and the BWY YogaFest was over for another year. It goes much too quickly!

BWY Yogafest is open to all BWY members both yoga student and yoga teacher members. To join the BWY follow the link below;

Join BWY

All photographs are either my own or Tori Williams.

Gentle Years Yoga classes – Hoylake – Chair based yoga

We are very pleased to announce that we are starting our British Wheel of Yoga Gentle Years Yoga classes in Hoylake starting on Friday 12th January at 10:30am at Hoylake Community Parade Centre, 31 Hoyle Road, Hoylake, Wirral, CH47 3AG.

Gentle Years Yoga is a chair based yoga suitable for anyone who wishes to or needs to take their yoga practice a little more gently. This can include people with age related health conditions or health conditions that require a yoga practice that is modified.

Gentle Years Yoga is an authentic traditional Hatha yoga practice that has been modified to be chair based. A 75 minute class will include breathing exercises, a pulse raising activity, concentration activities, co-ordination activities, resistance work, yoga postures, relaxation and an important element of fun. It is suitable for all and can be adapted for all.

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Please find a link below to the British Wheel of Yoga Gentle Years Yoga research results. As can be seen in the research document, the people in the pilot had conditions such as osteoarthritis, hypertension, depression/anxiety, hypercholesterolemia, rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, dementia, cancer and cerebrovascular disease.

Results-of-the-BWY-Gentle-Years-Yoga-Research

The pilot group demonstrated the following benefits from Gentle Years Yoga;

  • Better mental well-being
  • Better quality of life
  • Improved leg strength
  • Improved lower body flexibility
  • Improved resting heart rate
  • Improved physical function – chair raising and walking
  • Improved flexibility
  • Reduced pain
  • Stress relief / calming effect
  • Improved mood
  • Reduced frequency of panic attacks
  • Enjoyable social interaction and making new friends

After the 75 minute class at the Hoylake Parade Community Centre all attendees are encouraged to go to the cafe on the ground floor for tea, cake and a chat.

If you have any queries about Gentle Years Yoga either for yourself or a friend / relative please do not hesitate to get in touch either by using the contact form on the website or emailing us at enquiries@yogasmiths.org or alternatively you can call us on 07834268052.

We have gift vouchers available that can be used to purchase a block of 6 gentle Years Yoga classes for a relative. A great birthday or Xmas present.

Here is a link to the Facebook event for our first Gentle Years yoga class;

Gentle Years Yoga class – Facebook event

We look forward to welcoming you to our new friendly Gentle Years Yoga class

Namaste

Paul & Steve

 

Science behind Yoga Documentary

I’ve just watched a short (26 min) documentary about the Science behind Yoga. Its an interesting watch. Obviously it is only short so doesn’t get too into the detail or quote scientific studies but it is a great overview about how science is starting to support and prove the benefits of yoga.

Advances in science and technology are allowing scientists to study and understand the benefits of yoga.

Here is the link to the documentary on Youtube, hope you enjoy it;

Science behind Yoga

Namaste

Paul

World Mental Health Day 10th October 2017

It is World Mental Health day today, Tuesday 10th October 2017. Most people suffer at some point during their life with a mental health problem.

This can range from a period of work related stress and anxiety to a more complex mental health condition. Sometimes these challenges can come right out of the blue and hit us.

Yoga is an excellent way of helping to build our resilience to mental health challenges and is also a wonderful recuperative practice.

Both Steve and I have used yoga to help us at various times in our lives. We first ventured to a yoga class when Steve was living with depression and we thought we would see if it would help. Steve found that the yoga really helped him and was a step towards recovery. I also found that the yoga helped me in many ways and I hadn’t realised that I needed it! That was the start of our regular yoga practice that has lead us to becoming yoga teachers!

I have also used yoga and breathing techniques to deal with periods of work related anxiety when I was working in middle management. Yoga techniques can provide you with the space that is all so important when the mind feels so busy and full.

There is an excellent article written by Dr Mercola titled Yoga Benefits Your Brain Function and Mental Health.

The following is an extract from it and there is a link to the full article below;

Why Yoga Is so Beneficial for Your Brain

Over the years, a number of studies have honed in on the brain benefits of yoga. For example, studies have found that:

Twenty minutes of Hatha yoga improves your brain function (speed and accuracy of mental processing) to a greater degree than 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (jogging).5,6 Potential mechanisms include enhanced self-awareness and reduced stress.

Yoga helps improve mental health, including psychiatric disorders like depression, anxiety, attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and schizophrenia.7,8,9,10

Some of the studies suggest yoga can have a similar effect to antidepressants and psychotherapy.

Yoga helps improve teenagers’ emotional resilience and ability to manage anger. As noted by yoga educator and writer Iona Smith:11

“During adolescence, the frontal lobes of the brain (the seat of language and reason) are still being formed, leaving teens to overly rely on their amygdala (the seat of emotions) …

The brain’s malleability during adolescence marks a crucial stage in both cognitive and emotional development.

Luckily, researchers are now able to paint a clearer picture of some of the factors that allow students to thrive throughout high school and into adulthood, such as self-awareness, managing distressing emotions, empathy, and navigating relationships smoothly.

When students hone these skills, they are not only happier and healthier emotionally, but are also better able to focus on academics.”

By improving stress-related imbalances in your nervous system, yoga can help relieve a range of symptoms found in common mental health disorders.

Researchers also believe yoga can be helpful for conditions like epilepsy, chronic pain, depression, anxiety and PTSD by increasing brain chemicals like gamma amino-butyric acid (GABA).12

 

Here is a link to the full article;

Yoga and the Brain – Dr Mercola article

We always ensure in our Traditional Hatha Yoga classes that we teach our students a range of different breathing exercises and different guided relaxation so that everyone can find one to suit themselves that they can use in their day to day lives.

Namaste

Paul

 

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course (MBSR) completed!

Hello!

I thought I would share with you that I have just completed a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course with Rita Bennet and Pauline Johnson at Hoylake Parade Community Centre. I love learning and am always looking at ways to continue our professional development as Yoga Teachers.

The MBSR course was very enjoyable and gave me some useful personal insights. The way Rita and Pauline teach the course and the structure of the course ensure that mindfulness is looked at from many different angles. This empowers you to realise how mindfulness can be woven into every aspect of life.

Prior to attending the course I had a good knowledge of mindfulness and regularly practice mindfulness both as a meditation practice and also in activities in life. However, this course really helped me to make progress on my mindfulness journey and I would highly recommend it.

Rita and Pauline also provide a weekly handout to take home with you to assist your practice along with CD’s of guided mindfulness meditations / relaxations. The course includes a silent day of mindfulness which at first sounded rather daunting but was great and actually I wanted to remain silent when we were told that we could begin talking again!

Mindfulness meditation has been proven to create new neural pathways in the brain, in essence hard wiring us to access relaxation more easily. At the same time we create new brain cells thus increasing the size of our brains!

We enjoy teaching a mindful approach in our yoga classes and we have woven many of the things I learnt on the MBSR course into our classes so that our students can benefit from mindfulness.

Rita and Pauline have a website where they list their courses, here is the link to it, check it out!

B Mindful website

Neuroscience supporting Yoga benefits

Hi Everyone,

Welcome to our Yoga blog!

I am always interested in articles that apply modern day scientific knowledge and study to Yoga. I just read this article which looks at the neuroscience behind having a strong core and the adrenal glands. It appears that having a strong core from a Yoga or Pilates practice can help in our ability to deal with stress inputs.

I must point out that I do not agree with animal testing which is where the research has been discovered. Ahimsa to all living creatures.

Here’s a link to the article:

Neuroscience Core Yoga

Namaste

Paul