After the overwhelmingly positive response to my "Open Letter to the NHS" earlier this year, I have some exciting news. You shared my message far and wide and it got both local and national attention in the press. After the Guardian article  I was invited to speak at an All Party Parliamentary Group in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 27th June for an "Early Day Motion". The motion is "That this House celebrates the 2nd International Day of Yoga, on 21 June 2016, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015; ... 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." Quite rightly there is growing interest in the benefits of yoga as a healthcare intervention. Many of us have personally experienced the physical and psychological benefits of our yoga practice. Now there is an opportunity to spread this message yet more widely and bring this idea to mainstream debate. Where better to do this than the mothership of debate, the Houses of Parliament. So on Monday afternoon, I fought my way through the frenzy of tourists, protesters and journalists in Parliament Square. My resolve did waiver from time to time but thankfully I brought the well informed and tenacious Charlie Taylor-Rugman, one of the UK’s leading Ashtanga teachers, with me for support. As we crossed the Central Lobby, Lords to to the right and Commons to the left, the frenetic activity of Parliamentarians responding to a Labour leadership crisis and the fall out of the EU referendum made me wonder whether anyone would be interested in hearing about yoga.   Dr Matt Joslin Yoga Houses of ParliamentOur allocated space for debate was to be the oak panelled, green-leather cushioned Committee Room 10, upstairs overlooking the Thames. It holds about 100 people and to my surprise it was packed. The mood was celebratory. After all this was a coming together of individuals and teams across the world who are passionate about yoga and health care. The event took the opportunity to mark the second International day of Yoga. MPs sat shoulder to shoulder with yoga researchers, practitioners and therapists. Presiding was High Commissioner of India Shri Sarna. After introductions and an opening mediation, we had presentations about yoga in healthcare systems in India and Sweden. Data on pilot studies and some health economics was shared. One energetic and articulate young man emotively shared his story of cancer survival and passion for yoga practice.   Matt Joslin Yoga Houses of ParliamentMy time in the spotlight was brief, but hopefully memorable. I had been asked to talk about prescribing yoga as a GP. So proudly representing our great city of Manchester I stood up, cracked a joke or two and realised that my allocated five minutes was nearly up! My key message was simply that an endorsement of yoga by a health care professional under the banner of the NHS is a powerful message to patients. Patients trust their GPs, practice nurses and physiotherapists and the more of us healthcare providers there are who  can confidently signpost to quality yoga classes, the more effectively we can roll out the benefits of yoga in the NHS. This meeting is a first but very significant step on a path towards closer integration of yoga into NHS healthcare. Let us see where this network takes us.It has been such an honour to represent Yoga Manchester and the wider UK yoga community at this event. I will continue to do my best for you. Dr.Matt Joslin   Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save
Well international yoga day showed that yoga can get plenty of butts on mats. The pictures of the crowd tens of thousand strong on Rajpath in New Dehli packed a punch. I think we may still have an image problem here in the West though. Ask Joe Public and I suspect candles and incense will be evoked with the impression that breaking a sweat is unheard of. Think again! What is great about yoga is that it is all-inclusive. Any one can do it at any age with any ability. Different styles suit different people so the more styles out there the better, in my opinion. Here is a style that will blow your mind. Black Yoga & Metal Yoga Bones are new movements from across the Pond. Imagine Vinyasa flow meets heavy metal. Why should your yoga practice soundtrack be restricted to OMs, waves and wind chimes? Clearly it shouldn’t. If tracks like Blood Swamp, Chanting the Low Shadow and Pale on Pale move you to salute the moon then bring it on sister. Class might start with freestyle vocalisations to release anger and inner darkness. Maybe replace your opening chant with a howl to Satan. The aim is for the practice to be grounding, uplifting of spirit and raising a sweat as Hellfire makes your muscles burn. Counter intuitively for me as a non metal-head, research from the University of Queensland showed listening to extreme music can regulate sadness and enhance positive emotions. Someone had a lot of fun doing that study. This effect coupled with a yoga practice sounds like a winning combination. This may not resonate with everyone but surely that’s the point. Some of us may feel alienated by Yoga’s real or perceived image. Step outside the confines of how you think a class ought to be presented then you may open it up to a whole new mind set and welcome new people to this amazing practice. Matt Joslin
I am proud to be a GP settled in Manchester city centre after having trained and worked in Cambridge, London and Brussels. Being a family doctor is one of the best and most varied jobs. The world with all its problems can walk through my office door and I am invited to collaborate in helping out. In recent years yoga has become an increasingly significant feature of my life. As well as getting me in the best physical shape it has helped me through stresses and depression. I attend several Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. More and more I share my experience of yoga with colleagues and patients. It has become a lifelong friend.
 
June 21 was declared as the International Day of Yoga by the United Nations General Assembly after Indian Prime Minister, addressed the United Nations General Assembly last year.  What’s App Doc ponders the potential impact of this intervention.  Casually surfing through calendars of national events reveals a perplexing mix of days to be celebrated. For instance Diabetes week and National Picnic Week take place in the run up to our inaugural International Yoga Day on the summer Solstice, which is shared with Fathers’ Day. Following this we have Wrong Trousers Day. So much to enthuse about here but I will try not to lose focus. What interests me is that India is embracing yoga again in a way that celebrates and promotes it in a social and holistic manner. "Yoga embodies unity of mind and body; thought and action; restraint and fulfilment; harmony between man and nature; a holistic approach to health and well-being", says Narendra Modi when addressing the UN.  Shripad Yesso Naik has become India's first minister for yoga, with plans to reclaim the practice as "India's gift to the West". Indian officials plan to reintroduce yoga into all facets of civic life, including more than 600,000 schools, thousands of hospitals and police training centres. This demonstrates that yoga is so much more than just a physical practice and has potential to improve well-being at a societal and population level as well as for individuals. Sometimes the old solutions are the best and most elegant. Our current technological revolution purports to enhance our lives in so many ways, but let’s look a little more closely at that assumption. Tablet computers, smart phones, internet TVs and now watches facilitate instant gratification. We can shop, chat, watch movies and work on the hoof twenty four hours a day. Agreed this is convenient, but does it make us happier and healthier? In my professional experience this is not the case; many people come through my consulting room struggling with the demands of modern living. They experience stress, anxiety, insomnia and physical ill health as a result of technological advances rather than these advances offering solutions. The ancient practice of Yoga is arguably a perfect counter balance to the intensity and pace of the silicon age. It encourages us to slow down, be mindful and seek grounding and balance. The goals are the journey itself and will be achieved over a lifetime of practice rather than at the click of a mouse. I am no Luddite. I embrace smartphones, Apps and internet shopping. But Yoga helps me find a balance so that I am not overwhelmed by the pressure to move to 24 hour access to everything. I value the rhythm of the days, weeks, months and years. Yoga is my companion through these cycles. So I for one will celebrate International Yoga day. For time management purposes I will have a healthy picnic on hand and dedicate my sun salutations to all yoga dads. I may need to borrow Matt Ryan’s fabulous trousers to cover all bases.   Matt Joslin
I am proud to be a GP settled in Manchester city centre after having trained and worked in Cambridge, London and Brussels. Being a family doctor is one of the best and most varied jobs. The world with all its problems can walk through my office door and I am invited to collaborate in helping out. In recent years yoga has become an increasingly significant feature of my life. As well as getting me in the best physical shape it has helped me through stresses and depression. I attend several Yoga Manchester classes on a weekly basis. More and more I share my experience of yoga with colleagues and patients. It has become a lifelong friend.