YOGA FLASH MOB – 17th Sept in London!

Do Yoga: Life into Balance

Join us for a Yoga Flash Mob in London

17 September at 18:30 at Parliament Square, Westminster

 The Minded Institute is dedicated to bridging the worlds of healthcare and yoga. We run free events, help to arrange conferences and this September we are organizing and awesome flash mob in London so that everyone interested can get involved. The London YOGA FLASH MOB will be held in Parliament Square, Westminster on the 17th September at 18:30. This 20-minute session will raise awareness of the power of yoga, and to draw the attention of those in the medical establishment, and to raise awareness of the pivotal role yoga can play in the delivery of healthcare.

 No yoga mat needed, and we encourage and welcome all levels to join us. Bring yourself + bring your friends. If you aren’t able to join us in London, host your own flash mob where you are and link up with us on facebook to tell us about it, or post a video.

Make sure to visit our facebook page to know exactly where we are meeting:

New studies are emerging all the time showing scientific evidence of the effects yoga has on wellbeing. If you are a practitioner, you probably know this from your own experience. Wondering why scientific evidence is important when the experience speaks volumes of the power of yoga? These studies are creating bridges between what we know experientially, and what the medical model can use to begin justifying the use of yoga and mindfulness in the treatment of physical and mental health conditions. Practicing yoga in front of one of London’s most prominent hospitals will draw the attention of health practitioners and the general public as well. Our message – Do Yoga: Bring Life into Balance – can then be expounded upon through our neuroscientific understanding of yoga.

It is the mission of the Minded Institute to bring attention to the way yoga can be an effective treatment or complementary treatment for medical conditions. This very important work can transform the way we approach physical and mental illness. We hope you can join us to raise awareness for the benefit of all!



Train with us!

Join us to train with the next wave of Minded Yoga Therapists!

There is a lot happening at the Minded Institute these days! We are about to have a new group of yoga therapist graduates!  They’ve worked very hard over the past 18 months, and it’s wonderful to see them all blossoming and preparing to take their skills into the world.  We know that these graduates, following in the footsteps of previous graduates, will come to have an impact on how mental and physical health issues are treated more holistically and compassionately.  We are very proud of their efforts and wish them well!

Just as we say farewell to the current group, we are preparing to welcome a new group of training yoga therapists. This all kicks off in September, and we invite you to be part of this next wave of Minded Yoga Therapists!  We only have a few spaces left, so if you feel this calling to you, please be in touch to take the steps to get on board with us.

The Minded Institute offers a unique 500-hour professional training for yoga teachers, healthcare works, and therapists, in mind-body therapies to work with clinical populations. We provide one of the most comprehensive trainings of this nature in the world, packed with cutting edge research, a deep understanding of the psycho-biology of stress, the relationship between physical and mental states, and how to employ yogic and mindfulness techniques that are tailored to meet the needs of a vast array of patient populations – from an evidence-based perspective.

 This course is right for you if:

  • You are a yoga teacher who feels you can offer your clients a more integrated approach to yoga for mental health issues.
  • You are a therapist who knows the power of mind-body practices and wants to know to bring them to your practice in an evidence-based way. 
  • You are interested in the emerging role of neuroscience, mind-body techniques and mental health.

There are limited spaces left, so get in touch soon to book your place!

With: Heather Mason, Minded Institute faculty + expert guest lecturers

When: September 2014 – March 2016

Where: London


Click here for details, including course dates and a full prospectus.

Want to learn more?  

We will hold a FREE taster day on 31st August in London, if there are still spaces available by then! This will include:

  • A morning practice for reducing anxiety, with clarity about the mechanisms around the practice
  • A lecture on yoga and neuroscience
  • Time to network and share with like-minded peers
  • Information about our training and how you can apply.
  • Question + Answer session

 Date:               31st August 2014

Time:              10am-5pm

Cost:               Free

Where:            Near Euston Station. You will receive address upon RSVPing.


Here’s what our graduates are saying:

“They say that when the student is ready, the teacher appears.  I did not know that I was destined to do more intensive training after my British Wheel of Yoga Diploma and my busy schedule as a British Airways Purser and Yoga teacher as well as a family to care for.  How was I going to fit it in?  If I had thought of all the reasons why I could not do this course, I would never have embarked on it.  So, thank God, I did not think about it too much and signed up with a strong sense that I would learn much about yoga and myself during the next 18 months.  I was not wrong.  Heather Mason and her team have done an incredible job providing a professional, informative, life-changing and practical course, which has given me the tools and confidence to take my teaching to the next level.  I always knew that yoga worked because of the transformative effects it has had on my life, but now I know WHY it has had these effects.  I cannot thank Heather enough for her dedication, hard work and vision in bringing this course to the world.  It was tough and I likened it to climbing a mountain but now I’m at the summit I feel I have gained all the knowledge I need to go out into the world and bring yoga therapy to those who need it”.  

Erin Lewis, Minded Yoga Therapist (2014)

“I feel very lucky to be working in this field, especially at this time, as there’s such a groundswell of interest in yoga and mindfulness for mental health. In my experience, clinicians are becoming more and more open to these approaches and for me it’s very exciting to be part of something so cutting edge.”

Veena Ugargol, Minded Yoga Therapist (2010) + Psychology & Neuroscience Researcher

“I feel really lucky to be able to deliver yoga therapy as part of my work within the NHS.  It’s such a joy to watch the young women I work with start to reconnect with, and explore their bodies. The movement aspect of yoga offers a ‘way in’ to mindfulness for them at a time in their lives when they are incredibly stressed, as well as offering a new, kinder way of relating to their bodies.  Within the field of Eating Disorders treatment there is growing interest in what yoga may have to offer, so it’s an exciting time!”

Dr. Sam Bottrill, Senior Clinical Psychologist with Eating Disorders Speciality + Minded Yoga Therapist (2010)

We hope you will join us on this journey to revolutionizing health care. And if the professional training isn’t right for you, please check out our innovative and unique short trainings on our website: It is an exciting time in health care delivery, as we see increasing acceptance of yoga as a path to healing. Join us. 

Yoga Therapy + Mindfulness for Addictions

With Shaura Hall + Heather Mason

12-15 June 2014 in London!

Addiction is a complex condition that affects all areas of life – not just for addicts, but also for the people around them. Clinically, it is characterized by a loss of control over drug use as indicated by continued use despite negative consequences (APA, 2000). And in the emerging neurobiological framework, addiction is seen, in part, as a chronic relapsing disease of the brain. Many methods are employed to help addicts into recovery, both in outpatient and in-patient settings. Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness is an innovative and effective way to support addicts in recovery.

Shaura Hall, lecturer with the Minded Institute, is an addiction recovery coach and Minded Yoga Therapist. She has been integrating yoga and relaxation techniques into residential and drop-in clinic settings for many years, and has seen first-hand the benefits for addicts. She will be co-teaching a 4 day Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for Addictions course with Heather Mason, MI founder and director, 12-15 June in London.

I interviewed Shaura to learn about the benefits of Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness for addictions, her upcoming course, and why you should be there!

EB: How is yoga used to treat addiction? (Including asana, breath work, chanting, and other practices.)

SH: The Minded Addiction Recovery Kit (MARK) is a protocol developed specifically for individuals in recovery.  We have created an effective program that leans heavily on current scientific understanding of what happens to the brain in addiction and which aspects of yoga are likely to be effective from this perspective.  With this in mind, our yoga practice is designed to be palatable for all and does not outwardly include any philosophy or religious connotations.  However, we thread the practice with themes taken from various contemplative traditions to induce compassion for self.  

We use practices from the yoga tradition to help people develop concentration skills and confidence in their ability to achieve.  Yoga is not a competitive sport, but it does require commitment and produces results pretty quickly for the practitioner.  Therefore, when individuals in recovery attend a short course they are able to see improvement in concentration, body flexibility and relaxation week-by-week.  This allows them to feel proud, which is a significantly positive emotion for people in this setting.  

In addition, the wandering mind has been paying attention to the body and breath for around 90 minutes, which gives it a rest from otherwise chronic and ruminative worry.

Minded Yoga recognises the importance of CBT based practices and focuses much of its work on bringing people to the best place to embark on this popular intervention.

EB: Why does ‘getting into the body’ help addicts in recovery?

SH: When experience is uncomfortable or threatening individuals often dissociate from the body as a coping mechanism.  However, our body holds many of the cues and clues for decoding the world around us. Furthermore, we can use our body to calm our whole system and then our mind. Thus, it’s really important for individuals in recovery to be able to use the body as a tool to manage adverse mental patterns.  

EB: What aspects of mindfulness help addicts overcome addiction?

SH: Mindfulness is a very powerful tool for re-parenting the mind and brain.  By observing our reactions to the world around us, we are more able to take a deep breath before reacting. This has the potential to give us a deeper understanding about what drives our individual addiction.  In addition, body-based mindfulness and mindful enquiry are effective practices to develop sensitivity in the body, which provides clues to when urges are programmed to arise.  

EB: At what point would you introduce YT + M into a treatment plan?

SH: I have used yoga and relaxation techniques extensively in residential settings and drop-in centres, with individuals at all stages of their recovery.  I would say it can be used when people are still trying to quit and onwards.  Of course, the response they have to yoga depends on where they are in treatment. I have known people try it a couple of times and contact me two years later to take it up again.  I feel that if the seed is planted, they have an option to aid their recovery when the time is right.  Additionally, the community spirit forged in a yoga group is really important in recovery settings.   

EB: What kind of responses have you had from people you’ve worked with in addiction recovery when you’ve used Yoga Therapy + Mindfulness?

SH: In the initial stages they are really happy that they have managed to calm down enough to experience relaxation.  Individuals can often get excited when their awareness moves out of the head and into the body and from there they begin to notice many things they would have previously ignored.  In the end, the general theme of the feedback is around knowing what to do with the body and breath to calm down once activated.  Many people have said that the yoga and relaxation sessions have been key to their understanding of self and to the success of further treatment in clinic, such as CBT interventions.  

EB: How is Yoga Therapy + Mindfulness received by medical folks who work with more conventional treatment modalities?

SH: At present, most of the medical community is still reluctant to trust alternative treatments. This is unfortunate because the condition is complex and needs to be approached from a whole person perspective.   However, my ability to relate to the conventional medical community through my comprehensive understanding of the medical science surrounding addiction and the relationship between yoga and neuroscience, I able to effectively express the benefits of yoga as therapy.  In 2012 I presented to the NHS for a grant to deliver yoga therapy and after a 30-minute presentation I was awarded the funding. From the questions they asked me and through subsequent feedback, it was clear that they hadn’t expected to award a grant for such a program! One of the great benefits of the Minded Institute courses is that you are fully armed with a language and knowledge that helps bridge a gap between the medical community and the yoga community.

EB: Who would benefit from taking this short course?

SH: We have developed this course to allow yoga teachers and experienced sessional workers to deliver an effective mind/body practice in clinic and private sessions.  We believe that to spread wellness, we must reach out to the community and empower people with practices that will work for this complex condition.  ANYONE with an interest in contemplative practices and desire to help people heal from addiction will benefit from this course.  

EB: What about entry criteria – who can take the course?

SH: The course is open to anyone, including addicts, treatment workers, yoga teachers, yoga therapists and mental health workers.  However, individuals who have been in recovery for under two years must have a conversation with me to ensure the course is an appropriate fit for them.  

For details on this course, and our other offerings at the Minded Institute, click here to visit our website.


Join us on the 25th June in London!

The recent Yoga and Health: Research and Practice conference was attended by yoga teachers + therapists, mental health + medical workers, all committed to making yoga therapy a more common practice in the treatment of disease, injury and mental health issues. This community will be gathering once again on the 25th of June to develop action plans for bringing yoga to the NHS, including getting yoga into the NICE guidelines, and you’re invited! (See below for details.)

A recent epidemiological study  revealed that yoga is on the rise in the UK, which bodes well for bringing yoga to the masses, both for the general population, and those with health issues. Moreover, yoga research has increased significantly, providing a wealth of information for the medical community to work with. As evidenced at the conference, yoga researchers from around the world are dedicating their time to discovering the implications of yoga and meditation on health and wellbeing. They are providing a body of evidence to prove what has been recognized experientially for centuries. And as for bringing yoga to the medical world on a large scale, Dr. Dean Ornish’s program (USA) for reversing heart disease, which includes yoga and meditation, is now covered by Medicare! On a smaller scale with lots of potential for growth, there are individuals in the UK who have brought yoga and mindfulness programs to various NHS trusts with great success. From these examples, we hope to transform the way yoga partners with medical care in the UK moving forward.

On the 25th of June we will join together to continue the conversation about bringing yoga into health care and the NHS. The day will include a panel discussion with practitioners who have brought yoga and related programs to the NHS, as well as presentations by the top yoga researchers in the UK. Additionally, participants will work in groups according to subject interest (e.g. heart disease, anxiety, etc.) to develop action plans to bring yoga to the NHS.

When: 25th June, 10am – 5pm
Where: Diorama Arts Centre, N. London
Cost: 17 pounds* (*This is a non-profit event. Fee covers room hire and transportation costs for presenting researchers.)
Please note: Pre-registration and payment required.

If the meeting on the 25th is not your thing, join us for another of our educational offerings this year! We have an abundance of opportunities throughout the year to become involved in this revolution in yoga and in health care:

Yoga Therapy + Mindfulness for Addictions 4-day Course: 12th – 15th June 2014

Yoga is a remarkable practice. It builds self-awareness, strength, clarity of mind and resilience and many of its practices can be used as coping mechanisms to overcome personal difficulties.   By clearly understanding how yoga promotes confidence, resilience, and physiological changes, it can be tailored to support people who are addicted to substances and help prevent relapse. Combining specialized yoga practice with mindfulness and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT – a common psychological approach in addictions treatment) techniques, offers a method of healing that supports the whole person. This approach includes physiology, psychology, and behavior, thus enhancing the likelihood of preventing relapse and overcoming addictions.

In this training you will learn how to use integrative yogic-based approaches to addictions that will allow you to work with clients privately, in clinics and in group-settings.

Geared towards yoga teachers and professional addiction workers, this training will give you the skills to work from a complete mind-body perspective.

With: Shaura Hall and Heather Mason
When: 12th – 15th June, 9am – 6pm daily
Where: Diorama Arts Centre, N. London
Click here for more information.

Please note: Due to popular demand, Shaura will be offering this training in the North of England in September. Details forthcoming. Email Shaura if you are interested.

Minded Yoga Therapy Professional Training taster day in late June

Date + venue will be announced shortly.
Register your interest now:

Read a recent blog post to learn about the taster day format!

 Minded Yoga Therapy Professional Training: from September 2014

The Minded Institute offers a unique 500-hour professional training for yoga teachers, healthcare works, and therapists, in mind-body therapies to work with clinical populations. We provide one of the most comprehensive trainings of this nature in the world, packed with cutting edge research, a deep understanding of the psycho-biology of stress, the relationship between physical and mental states, and how to employ yogic and mindfulness techniques that are tailored to meet the needs of a vast array of patient populations – from an evidence-based perspective.

If you are a yoga teacher who wants to offer your clients a more integrated approach to yoga for mental health issues, a therapist who knows the power of mind-body practices and wants to bring them to your practice in an evidence-based way or are interested in the emerging role of neuroscience, mind-body techniques and mental health, our training may be exactly what you are looking for.

There is limited space left, so get in touch soon to book your place!

With: Heather Mason, Minded Institute faculty + expert guest lecturers
When: September 2014 – March 2016
Where: London

Click here for details, including course dates and a full prospectus.

Yoga Therapy + Mindfulness for Anxiety Disorders: 29th October – 2nd November 2014

Details forthcoming

Yoga Therapy for Eating Disorders: 27th – 30th November 2014

There is a growing interest in, and mounting evidence for, the use of yoga and other mindfulness based approaches in recovery from Eating Disorders. Many US residential programs now feature yoga classes as a part of their therapy program and this is gradually beginning to catch on in the UK too. Geared towards yoga teachers and mental health professionals, this training will enable you to use yoga therapeutically with people recovering from Eating Disorders.

With: Dr. Sam Bottrill + Piriamvada
When: 27th – 30th November 2014
Where: Diorama Arts Centre, N London

Click here for more information.


Free Taster Day on 13th April – Yoga Therapy for Mental Health Professional Training

Are you curious to know more about our
Yoga Therapy for Mental Health Professional Training?

Join us for a FREE Taster Day on Sunday, 13th April
& find out about our next training starting
in September 2014!

heather group

Are you a yoga teacher who feels you can offer your clients a more integrated approach to yoga for mental health issues?

Are you a therapist who knows the power of mind-body practices and wants to know to bring them to your practice in an evidence based way?

Are you interested in the emerging role of neuroscience, mind-body techniques and mental health?

The Minded Institute’s Yoga Therapy for Mental Health Professional Training may be exactly the thing you’re looking for! On 13th April the Minded Institute is offering a taster day so you can get a feel for what the training will offer you, and meet many of the staff. Led by founder and head of faculty, Heather Mason, the day will be experiential, informative and fun.

In short, the taster day will include:

  • A morning practice for reducing anxiety, with clarity about the mechanisms around the practice
  • A lecture on yoga and neuroscience
  • Time to network and share with like-minded peers
  • Information about our training and how you can apply.
  • Question + Answer session

Date:            13th April 2014
Time:              10am-5pm
Cost:                Free
Where:          Near Euston Station. You will receive the address upon RSVPing.
Please note that space is limited so please only come along if you are genuinely interested in training with us.  We are unable to accommodate drop-ins on the day.

 To learn about the course, click here

MI Logo wordless

A Career in Yoga Therapy

Yoga therapy is one of the most exciting mind-body fields today. Yoga is increasingly reputed as a complementary and alternative therapy for many health problems.  The NHS recommends yoga for mental and physical health, citing a number of its benefits on its website, and 6% of doctors in the USA are recommending yoga to their patients to improve health and wellbeing.

There is a growing body of research to support experiential findings about the multitude of health benefits of yoga practise, particularly its capacity to maintain physical and mental wellbeing. For example, a 2008 survey indicated that stress is the number one reason people practiced yoga therapeutically. Most of this research evidences the benefit of yoga for mental health conditions, therefore yoga therapists with a specialization in mental health are in higher demand than ever.  With this increasing demand, there is an opportunity to be an innovator and pioneer in the field.  Join us and join the revolution!

Minded Yoga Therapists are: 

  • Empowered by scientific knowledge around yoga and its effects of mental and physical health, through understanding the clinical and evidence base for how and why these practices work.
  • Trained to work compassionately and intuitively with clients, using a person-centered approach
  • Offering sound, safe and bespoke practices to clients who present with physical and mental health issues.
  • Teaching classes + courses to groups of people dealing with stress, anxiety and depression – a growing population.
  • Engaging with yoga therapy in a variety of ways, from liaising with medical professionals and the NHS to develop more holistic models for addressing mental health issues to starting their own yoga therapy practice.
  • Integrating therapeutic yoga practices into their existing work with clinical populations in the fields of psychotherapy, psychology, CBT and other modalities of therapy.
  • Developing the potential for healing in their personal practice.
  • Pioneers in the field of yoga therapy, offering innovative practices and developing new ways of working with clients to aid in the healing process.

Read about what our graduates have been up to since becoming Minded Yoga Therapists

 VeenaVeena Ugargol is Yoga Therapist for Mental Health, Yoga Teacher + has academic experience in Psychology + Neuroscience. She delivers the Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8 week course for stress, anxiety and depression at the School of Life and triyoga, and works privately with clients on a one-to-one basis. She also teaches yoga and mindfulness within the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust in the Anxiety Disorders Residential Unit, where she is also an assistant therapist, Snowsfields Adolescent Unit and Lambeth Triage. She says:

“As a yoga therapist for mental health, I use yoga and mindfulness practises to help people manage symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I’m really pleased with the response to the work that I do within the NHS. . .It’s not unusual for people approaching discharge to ask me for tools and support to enable them to continue their practise; to know that they’ve found something that helps them self manage, well that makes me very happy indeed.

I feel very lucky to be working in this field, especially at this time, as there’s such a groundswell of interest in yoga and mindfulness for mental health. As a researcher I’m enthused to see so much investment in good quality research in yoga and mindfulness, though yoga’s quite a bit behind mindfulness, but it’s catching up. In my experience, clinicians are becoming more and more open to these approaches and for me it’s very exciting to be part of something so cutting edge, and whilst I look forward to its continued growth I’m very much enjoying the journey.” 

Sam BottrillDr Sam Bottrill is a qualified yoga teacher (Yoga Alliance accredited), Yoga Therapist for Mental Health and Senior Clinical Psychologist specializing in Eating Disorders.  She lectures and supervises on the Minded Institute professional training and runs Yoga Therapy for the Mind 8-week courses in North and Central London.

Sam trained as a clinical psychologist at University College London in 2005 and now works at the world-renowned Child and Adolescent Eating Disorder Service at the Maudsley Hospital.  Inspired by her own experience of the benefits of yoga to mental wellbeing and a growing awareness of the inextricable link between mind and body, she completed her initial teacher training with Yogi Vishvektu at the Anand Prakash Ashram in Rishikesh (India) at the beginning of 2010.  She went on to train with Heather Mason in order to specialize in Yoga Therapy for Mental Health and now teaches Minded Institute inspired yoga and mindfulness to teenagers with Eating Disorders within the NHS.  Her specialist academic interest is the role of yoga and mindfulness practices within the treatment of Eating Disorders.  She says:

“I feel really lucky to be able to deliver yoga therapy as part of my work within the NHS.  It’s such a joy to watch the young women I work with start to reconnect with, and explore their bodies. The movement aspect of yoga offers a ‘way in’ to mindfulness for them at a time in their lives when they are incredibly stressed, as well as offering a new, kinder way of relating to their bodies.  Within the field of Eating Disorders treatment there is growing interest in what yoga may have to offer, so it’s an exciting time!”

Kay_Locke-yoga_teacherKay Locke is a Yoga Therapist for Mental Health and Special Needs, based in Manchester.  In addition to completing the Minded Yoga Therapy Professional Training with the Minded Institute, Kat has a PGC in Autism from Sheffield Hallam University, along with numerous other postgraduate trainings to support her interest in working with individuals impacted by disability.  She teaches yoga and mindfulness sessions at Wythenshawe Hospital Mental Health Unit in Manchester, covering four wards a week, including the Intensive Care Unit.  She also offers small group and individual therapy sessions, including the Minded Yoga 8-week course.  Kay also provides services for the Stockport Local Authority and local charities, including weekly mindfulness and movement sessions for children and families impacted by ASC and adults with special needs, and leads relaxation and mindfulness classes for carers.  Kay says:

“Working as a yoga therapist supporting a wide range of people to relive symptoms of stress, anxiety and depression is very rewarding. Many clients repeatedly explain that taking part in the 8-week Minded Yoga course far exceeds their expectations, and the positive outcomes are life-changing – even their friends and family have witnessed positive change!  Many clients recognize their new found skills and quickly develop a commitment to continue their yoga and mindfulness practices.”

elizabeth-bourdonElizabeth Bourdon is a Yoga Therapist for Mental Health and a Yoga Teacher.  Based in Milton Keynes Buckinghamshire, Elizabeth teaches the Yoga for the Mind 8 week course independently, as well as seeing clients privately on a one-to one basis using the Yoga Therapy for the Mind model.

“For me, one of the most rewarding parts of my job is when a client comes back after a session and says, ‘I practised that breathing thing you taught me last week when I got stressed, and it really worked!’ That’s priceless. How such a simple technique can have a huge impact on someone’s life never fails to put a smile on my a face, and makes me feel very grateful that I am in this line of work.

Last year I began volunteering at my local Mind, teaching a weekly yoga & mindfulness class. Working with Mind has enabled me to gain valuable experience working with a wonderfully diverse group of people. It has also afforded me the opportunity to be in direct contact with other Mental Health professionals and it has opened up many doors for me. Having worked there for a while now I am very excited that Yoga is now being offered as an intervention along with other activities such as Eco-Therapy and Art Therapy. This is excellent news and it now enables me to offer a more robust 6-week course where I can integrate aspects of the Yoga Therapy for the Mind model.

Through working with Mind, I was invited to be a regular panelist on a local radio show last year called ‘Mind Your Head’. The show focused on Wellbeing and Mental Health, aiming to raise awareness, reduce stigma and help people find support. This was not only great fun, but also gave me the opportunity to talk about my passion… Yoga and Mindfulness.”

Yoga and Health: Research and Practice – The Conference!

3 Reasons Not to Miss this Conference

yoga and health confer rect

The Minded Institute (MI) has teamed up with like-minded organizations and companies in the UK and Europe to offer Yoga and Health: Research and Practice, a 3-day conference in April.   This event brings together yoga teachers & therapists, health professionals and yoga researchers to share and learn about the broader implications of yoga practice in treating and managing a variety of diseases and illnesses. Heather Mason, founder and director of MI, discusses the upcoming conference in an article for Yoga for Health (excerpts included in italics).  Here are some reasons you should join:

  1. Get ‘in the know’ so you can be an informed player in the transition to yoga as medicine. People are stressed out and it’s making them sick!  Physical and mental health issues have a strong link with stress and reducing stress can be curative.  Yoga is an inexpensive and effective way to offer your patients and clients a long-term solution – and the research out there proves it.

“Chronic Stress is highly toxic: it leads to the constant release of hormones and neurotransmitters that are only supposed to be released in high quantities on occasion when we are actually threatened and need to fend for our life. The continual release of stress chemicals, which occurs when we are always anxious, sad, or hyper-vigilant, has deleterious effect on the systems of the body. They raise blood pressure, tax cells, inhibit the growth of new neurons, prevent proper uptake of sugar by cells, and cause the up-regulation genes that code for chronic diseases. 

The search for ways to reduce stress is becoming part of the health care agenda, not just among doctors, but also within national healthcare systems that believe it may reduce spending.  Governments are hungry for programs, which are efficacious, cost-effective, and simple to teach and practice.  For example, the Ornish program in the US, which combines stress management, yoga, nutritional guidelines and yoga is now covered by Medicare as it’s proven an effective and inexpensive way to reverse heart disease.”

  1. The results are in! Yoga research studies are on the rise and the results will fascinate you. You’ll hear researchers present their findings, learn practical ways to apply yoga to your clients and students and have the opportunity join up with others in your field to share ideas.

“In the last 10 years there has been an explosion in the yoga research field.  In 2013 there were over 350 published research articles that looked at yoga, compared with just 160 studies six years ago, and fewer than 50 in 2001.  Research is revealing the yoga can lower blood pressure, reduce stress, insulin resistance and depression. It shows that yoga can improve the quality of life in those being treated for cancer, increased levels of neurotransmitters promote calm and ease, while also enhancing cognitive, academic and physical performance.”

  1. Yoga is ‘en vogue’ – your clients and patients are unlikely to turn down your recommendation to give it a try. This conference will give you a deeper understanding – from a physical, physiological and neurological evidence-based perspective – of what practices will help or exacerbate their health issues.

“Due to the combination of burgeoning research and public interest in yoga, more and more people are heading to classes as a way to improve health.  A survey of complementary therapies listed yoga as on the three most popular interventions chosen by patients.  As head of the Minded Institute, I speak to a lots of doctors who are interesting in yoga and want their patients to practice…At the same time, I am struck by how few doctors understand which yoga practices benefit which clinical populations and why yoga is curative.

[T]o increase the number of people who are suffering and who could benefit from yoga, it is important that doctors, yoga teachers, and yoga practitioners start to understand which practices benefit which populations.  By gaining an understanding of the physiological mechanisms that underpin different yoga practices, teacher and doctors and extend the reach of their work. Knowing how yoga practices impact on our health allows healer to align physiological needs of certain clinical populations with what yoga can do.”

We hope you’ll accept our invitation to take part in three days of interactive learning, 4th – 6th April in London.    What you will find, at-a-glance:

“The Minded Institute, Confer, Yogacampus, Mediyoga, the BCYT, IAYT, and special yoga have teamed up to create a conference on Mind-Body Health where doctors, yoga teachers and yoga therapists can learn about its benefits from leading researchers…18 doctors and researchers will discuss their research with different clinical populations at this international gathering in London in April. Also, leading yoga therapists will offer skills training workshops in how to use yoga with different clinical populations. We will be looking at everything from cancer to heart disease, diabetes to depression.”

For all the details, including the when + where and information about collaborators and presenters, please click here.


Yoga for Insomnia: A prescription for better sleep that lasts

Asking someone about their sleep quality seems as common and acceptable as bringing up the weather.  This simple observation of social behavior tells me that we are keenly and openly aware of the impact of restful, fitful, or complete lack of sleep.  When I have a guest in my home, I am relieved to know they slept well, like I have been able to provide that all-important ‘good night’s sleep’. If a colleague tells me he had a terrible night of sleep, I may be more compassionate and offer to take some work off his proverbial plate, knowing that his poor sleep may make for a very difficult – and sluggish – day.  When I have a poor night’s sleep – tossing and turning or just not enough – I am not fully present and it takes me a few days to get back on track. And I’m not the only one.

People shell out huge amounts of money for mattresses that promise the perfect firmness for a perfect snooze.  Offices around the United States are installing ‘nap pods’ to ensure daytime rests for their workers because lack of sleep, in economic terms, leads to lower productivity. A study by scientists at Harvard Medical School estimates that sleep deprivation costs U.S. companies $63.2 billion in lost productivity per year.  And while we’re talking numbers, more than 6 million adults in the U.S. in 2010 reported using sleep medicines in the past month, according to research conducted at Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Harvard University.  Furthermore, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US estimates 40.6 million American workers, or 30% of the civilian workforce, don’t get enough rest.  And according to the recent Great British Sleep Survey, more than half the population suffers from some level of insomnia.

Whether sleep issues result from stress or depression, caring for a new baby, or physiological changes, most people have trouble sleeping at some point in their lives.  In a culture where we have instant and perpetual contact with the outside world – through smart phones, tablets, internet – it is all the more difficult to ‘turn off’, to power down and to, therefore, sleep restfully, regardless of the root cause.  So how do we overcome this without the side effects that accompany common pharmaceutical interventions? Mounting evidence confirms that yoga and complementary techniques support better sleep, as they are highly effective in training the mind and body to relax.  While companies speak about lack of sleep in terms of productivity, and new mamas speak in terms of tried patience, there are much greater implications affecting a person’s entire experience – in body, mind + energetically.

Lisa Sanfilippo is one of London’s most popular yoga teachers and an expert on yoga for sleep. She will be partnering with our founder/director Heather Mason from 27th February – 3rd March in offering a training course: Yoga Therapy for Insomnia. Lisa’s powerful + popular Yoga for Insomnia offerings (workshops, courses + one-to-one sessions) grew out of her personal experience of a high-stress Ivy League education and demanding deadline-oriented work life, giving her a unique compassion for living consciously and healthily in an often-unrelenting world. She brings her 15+ years of research in better sleep to her courses, one to one sessions and workshops- helping hundreds of Londoners to rest better over the years.

Through assisting Lisa on two of her Yoga for Insomnia 6-week courses, I have found that her holistic and integrative approach is what leads students to better sleep.  Students have reported that even when they take on just a few of the practices, they see marked changes in their sleep.  Ex-insomniac Nicole Ettinger reviewed Lisa’s course in an article for the Daily Express, and reports: “I tried sleeping pills and although they worked they left me feeling like a zombie through the day. I tried every conceivable herbal remedy to no avail.” Upon taking Lisa’s course things shifted.  She writes, “I learned how to breathe slowly and deeply and feel my heart rate decrease, counting to three on inhaling and to four on exhaling… After four weeks of following the routine I found I could quiet my body and mind enough to achieve a full night’s sleep.” (A taster of the routine can be found here.)

Yoga, mindfulness and relaxation techniques are no quick fix, which is contrary to the way the world moves around us, and thus, the way we want things to be.  By developing these practices, along with evaluating habits during the day, we take a holistic approach to discovering better sleep.  This integration of mind and body in such practices allows the whole system to move at it’s own pace to find a more harmonious partnership between waking and sleeping. This approach makes for lasting changes over fleeting reprieve, i.e. the instant gratification route.

Sound a little “airy-fairy” to you? You’ll be glad to know that there is scientific research suggesting that these practices REALLY do work.  Guest lecturer Philip Stevens will join Lisa and Heather during the aforementioned 5-day course to offer a deeper understanding of the science behind sleep. Philip is a Consultant Neurophysiologist, holds an honors degree in Neurophysiology from the Centre For Sleep Research in South Australia and post-graduate clinical training in Mind-Body Medicine from Harvard Medical School in Boston, USA. He has explored the effects of certain yoga practices on the heart, brain and autonomic nervous system and runs clinical yoga sessions, courses and seminars on various aspects of science and yoga.  Aligning with the mission of the Minded Institute, Philip helps to bridge the gap between ancient yogic practices and the modern medical science supporting their efficacy.

As a new mama, the criteria for what constitutes a ‘good night’s sleep’ has been radically altered. I get less sleep, and I feel more tired than I did before my baby   But it’s also meant that I’ve been able to apply all of the things I picked up through assisting Lisa’s sleep courses and in helping to compile her forthcoming e-book. What I know more clearly than ever before is the power in the breath to wind down the nervous system after a late-night cry and feed (the baby, not me), and equally in a few simple asanas in the morning to lift my energy after a night only spotted with sleep. And that’s just the tip of the ‘Yoga for Insomnia’ iceberg. Come see for yourself:

Yoga for Insomnia: A 5–day Professional Development Course

With Lisa Sanfilippo + Heather Mason, with guest lecturer Philip Stevens.

Thursday 27th Feb – Monday 3 March, 10AM – 5PM daily

The Diorama Arts Centre, London NW1

Click here for more info.

Email to register:

Click below to see Lisa Sanfilippo’s yoga for sleep offerings, on the web and in London:

An ex-insomniac’s success story with Lisa’s course

Yoga for Sleep video on Healthista

Yoga for Sleep online classes with Lisa on Movement for Modern Life

Yoga for sleep workshops + courses with Lisa in London at triyoga and The Life Centre