YIHA is steered by a collection of leading yoga experts. The remit of the Yoga in Healthcare Alliance Directors is to steer the vision and aims of YIHA, including dissemination of relevant research, development and implementation of training programmes for yoga practitioners offering yoga in health care settings, development and implementation of yoga-based interventions in health care settings, and lobbying for amendments and development of policy at the local and national level.
Heather Mason MA, MA, MSc 500 RYT, YT
Heather Mason is the founder of The Minded Institute, an organisation that develops and researches innovative treatment programs for chronic mental and physical health problems based on a fusion of yoga therapy, mindfulness, psychotherapy, and neuroscience. The Institute’s main activity is training yoga teachers and health professionals to use evidence-based mind-body skills with clinical population. Heather holds an MA in Buddhist Studies, and MA in Psychotherapy, an MSc in Medical Physiology, and has undertaken extensive academic training in neuroscience. She is also a yoga therapist, 500 registered yoga teacher, and holds an MBCT training certificate from Bangor University. Previously, Heather created and taught a class at the Boston University School of Medicine on mind-body medicine to first and second year medical students, developed and delivered a mind-body science course for the first MSc in yoga therapy in the USA at The Maryland University of Integrated Medicine, and has lectured on Harvard Medical School’s mind-body medicine course. She is actively involved in bringing collaboration to the UK yoga community, including organising national conferences and community events, lecturing on the science of yoga in the UK and beyond, and regularly speaks at the APPG on bridging the world of yoga and medicine.
Dr Rupal Dave
Rupal Dave is a Consultant Psychiatrist specialising in Intellectual Disability and Neurodevelopmental disorder. She has been a medical doctor for 11 years having completed her undergraduate medical training (MBChB) and degree in Pathology & Microbiology (BSc Hons) at the University of Bristol. Since then, she has completed her postgraduate training in London and this has included practicing medicine at Great Ormond Street Hospital, the National Hospital of Neurology & Neurosurgery, and the John Howard Forensic Centre for Mental Health. She completed Specialty exams in 2015 and became a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists (MRCPsych), and commenced Higher training. Rupal feels privileged to work with people with intellectual disability and to support and empower this group to live independent lives. Her special interests include medical education, the wellbeing of healthcare practitioners, ADHD and sleep disorders. After undertaking a Certificate in Learning & Teaching, and Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) in Medical Education, she became a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Further to her Yoga teacher training in 2018, she completed Yoga4Health training with YIHA in 2020 and has since delivered complimentary beginner’s yoga classes to NHS healthcare colleagues and people receiving care in the NHS.
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa
Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. has conducted research on yoga for physical and psychological health since 2001 and is a practitioner / instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan since 1971. He is Research Director for the Kundalini Research Institute and the Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health, and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. His research trials have evaluated yoga for insomnia, chronic stress, anxiety spectrum disorders, and mental health in schools. Dr. Khalsa works with the International Association of Yoga Therapists promoting yoga research as scientific director for the annual Symposium on Yoga Research and editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy. He is author of the Harvard Medical School ebook Your Brain on Yoga, and chief editor of the medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.
Dr Avichal Sharma
Dr Avi Sharma is a Scottish GP with an interest in Lifestyle Medicine, and a yoga teacher. He practices medicine in Ayrshire and Lanarkshire and is the Kilmarnock Football Club crowd doctor. Avi did his medical training at Glasgow University and also holds a BSc Hons in Medical Science and Sports Medicine. His postgraduate studies include diabetic management, sexual and reproductive health, and geriatric medicine. Avi completed a 500-hour hot yoga teacher training in 2016 and is a YIHA Yoga4Health teacher.
Dr Rebekah Lawrence
Rebekah Lawrence is a medical doctor, yoga teacher and wellness founder. She trained in Medicine and Surgery at King’s College London and is currently in practice as a Junior Doctor, rotating through different disciplines. She also holds a First Class honours degree in Physiology Intercalated from King’s College. Rebekah is the founder and director of Pana Wellness Ltd, which is a health platform that unites ancient and modern wellbeing practices to empower better health and happiness. We celebrate black culture to create an inclusive space that welcomes underrepresented communities. Rebekah’s yoga teaching includes vinyasa flow, restorative and yin classes. After years studying how to be well through the eyes of medicine and science, it was only when yoga came into my life that I understood the full picture of what it means to care for the body, mind and soul. My interests are focused towards intersecting healthcare and wellbeing practices, and sharing the benefits with a diverse community.
Dr Nicole Schnackenberg is a child, community and educational psychologist and certified as both a Hatha and Kundalini yoga teacher. She has undertaken varied training in yoga therapy and is a facilitator of the Eat Breathe Thrive yoga programme for food and body image struggles.
Nicole currently divides her time between working as an educational psychologist in Southend, teaching Kundalini yoga and her trusteeships of the Body Dysmorphic Disorder Foundation and the Give Back Yoga Foundation UK. She has authored books on transpersonal modes of healing: ‘False Bodies, True Selves: Moving Beyond Appearance-Focused Identity Struggles and Returning to the True Self’ and ‘Bodies Arising: Fall in Love with your Body and Remember your Divine Essence’. She has also co-authored ‘The Parent’s Guide to Body Dysmorphic Disorder’ and co-edited, ‘Reflections on Body Dysmorphic Disorder: Stories of Courage, Determination and Hope’.
Nicole has a passion for mantra and a special interest in the benefits of yoga for mental health, particularly in the areas of body dysmorphia, disordered eating and autism spectrum conditions.
Dr Sakthi Karunanithi
Dr Robin Monro, Phd
Robin started as a research molecular biologist but shifted to yoga therapy, following cure of his asthma by yoga therapy. He founded the Yoga Biomedical Trust in 1983. Having trained with leading yoga therapists from Kaivalyadhama and SVYASA, he co-authored an early book on yoga therapy: Nagarathna R, Nagendra HR and Monro R, Yoga for Common Ailments (1990). He is credited with establishing the UK’s first Yoga Therapy Diploma Course (trained over 100 professional yoga therapy practitioners). His overall concern is the enrichment of modern healthcare through the insights and practices of yoga. His current focus is on the early detection and yoga treatment of herniated disc in low back pain for the prevention of long-term disability.
Chief Operating Officer
Paul Fox was a founding director of YIHA but has now stepped down from the board to focus on the day-to-day running of YIHA with a mission to grow the charity into the leading organisation enabling yoga teachers to work in healthcare. Paul is a former Chair of the British Wheel of Yoga where he pioneered a new direction for the organisation focusing on standards, diversity and inclusion. Those aims continue with YIHA. Paul is also a past Chair of British Wheel of Yoga Qualifications (BWYQ), an Ofqual-recognised awarding body. He worked alongside colleagues to achieve accreditation for YIHA Yoga4Health training from the Personalised Care Institute set up by the Royal College of GPs to accredit training in social prescribing and universal personalised care. Paul has trained over 200 yoga teachers, and continues to teach Yoga4Health classes as well as fully inclusive Yoga4Everybody classes offering chair versions of every practice and informed by breathing techniques from yoga and Buteyko. Paul is the author of Yoga Quest and co-author of Yoga on Prescription with Heather Mason, published June 2022.
Amanda Jayne Crompton
Training and Accreditation Officer
Amanda is a BWY and YIHA qualified yoga teacher who has extensive quality assurance experience in the education system in England. Having studied science at A level, Amanda achieved a BA Hons Degree in Art and Applied Social Sciences, specialising in Psychology, at the University of Kent. From here she went on to develop a career managing quality and standards in the Further Education (FE) system, progressing onto managing quality, accreditation and inspections in Higher Education (HE). Eventually Amanda combined her occupational expertise with her passion for yoga to become the Responsible Officer and Head of Operations for an Ofqual recognised Awarding Organisation specialising in Yoga teacher training. Amanda has a level 5 teaching qualification and various quality assurance certifications. She is passionate about supporting the development of high quality teaching and training that supports the needs and interests of clients and students in the evolving landscape of yoga in healthcare