Yoga NOT REALLY on the Agenda in Parliament

The yellow graph shows how little impact yoga is having within the UK public heathcare agenda

No one is doing more than the Yoga In Healthcare Alliance (YIHA) to convince everyone in the UK that yoga should be included within the NHS commissioning remit.

All the hope and excitement is bound up in the UK Parliament allegedly creating a new 'wave' of public relations opportunities for training providers keen to sell vendor-specific certifications and ancillary trade services to practitioners.

Somewhat ironically, as our cherished NHS is being killed off by a thousand cuts, it is foreign nationals like Heather Mason (whose homeland public health policy is hardly the envy of the world) cheerleading the UK government into deeper links with yoga practitioners.

The idea is based on not-altogether very convincing evidence that brand owners like Heather are somehow more deserving than say, people delivering proven cancer treatments or fighting for better pay and conditions for NHS staff. Troubling times then, for the NHS, staff, British taxpayers and yoga practitioners whose social conscience is likely telling them to be careful of what we are being asked to wish for with YIHA, an unfortunate acronym that might sound to a sober, British ear more like 'oh dear' than the shrill, 'yee hah!'

The aggressive lobbying by those who stand to gain the most from delivering courses in something coined 'yoga therapy' or 'mindfulness' is also worrying many senior yoga practitioners who do not use those terms to describe what they do, but whose livelihoods are, nevertheless under continual threat from being caught by stricter government regulation as a result.

Perhaps no one has let Heather in on the fact that the British government is probably the worst possible friend of yoga, not least in terms of it's terrifying colonial history. The instant backlash is also not helped by the ever-present danger of catch-all, heavy-handed regulation. If they have, it seems as though Heather doesn't want to listen to them.

Despite the routine excitement and predictable false hopes, the actual impact of yoga on the UK healthcare agenda has been stagnating for decades. It will of course take more than a few kind words from a few dotty peers to make an impact.

The highest standards of evidence are required to shape NHS commissioning practice so until the research paradigm improves, yoga will be doomed to follow all the other discredited practices eventually abandoned due to the lack of quality evidence.

The hallmark of political lobbying for yoga within the public health agenda in Britain seems to be empty words and empty promises.


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