This historic conference took place from 15 - 17 February 2019

at The University of Westminster, London

The inaugural YIHA Conference brought together key opinion leaders in yoga, health care, yoga research, health policy, and government to address how we help transform the NHS through the integration of yoga. It was attended by over 320 delegates from all over the world, many of whom were yoga and/or healthcare professionals.

The timeliness of this conference was associated with the recent release of funding for Social Prescribing across the NHS. Social Prescribing is a way of linking patients in primary care with sources of support in the community. Essentially, GPs can refer patients to non-medical options, like yoga, alongside existing treatments to improve health and wellbeing. This is very exciting news for yoga teachers and yoga therapists up and down the country!

Spearheaded by Heather Mason, YIHA’s Founder and Director of the Minded Institute, the conference opened with Heather’s keynote encompassing a written address from HRH Prince Charles outlining his support for the conference and his belief that yoga has innumerable potential benefits for the healthcare system in the UK. Since the conference, Prince Charles’ address has found its way into the national press; which has been read and pondered with excitement by the wider yoga community.

The conference went on to include Keynotes by: Ducan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, who spoke emphatically about the need and opportunity for the Social Prescribing of yoga to reduce social isolation and improve physical and mental health outcomes; Dr Sat Bir Khalsa, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard, who compellingly overviewed the research supporting yoga as a therapeutic intervention; Dr Amit Bhargava MD, member of the College of Medicine, who suggested how yoga can be used to address health inequalities; Lord Stone and Lord Brooke, members of Parliament, who movingly shared their personal experiences of yoga and their commitment to YiHA’s cause; Dr Michael Dixon, National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, who delighted participants with the news that funds for Social Prescribing have, indeed, just been released in tandem with a growing appetite and opportunity for embedding yoga into the NHS; and Jamie Bristow, Director of the world’s first policy institute on Mindfulness, who enthused participants with how yoga and mindfulness practices can radically change the very fabric of life, of society…and of the world.

Numerous thought-provoking talks and workshops were available over the three days, including on yoga for lower back pain, yoga for the refugee population, yoga for children with autism, optimising psychological wellbeing in pregnancy, and yoga’s role in respiratory conditions to name but a few. Plenty of time was also provided for networking opportunities, with many rich discussions taking place about how we can come together as a yoga community to offer yoga to the most vulnerable members of our society.

Many crucial messages emerged from this ground-breaking conference, not least that:

  • Yoga has a place not only in supporting physical and psychological healthcare but also, very vitally, in bringing communities of people together and reducing social isolation and inequality.
  • Yoga can, and should, be available to every person at every stage of their life and in every condition of health.
  • Social Prescribing looks set to provide a gateway for embedding yoga into the NHS, and into wider healthcare practice in the UK.
  • The invitation is ripe for yoga teachers and yoga therapists of all disciplines to come together, and to be pro-active, in speaking with their MPs and GPs about releasing pockets of funding for yoga for healthcare populations.
  • There appears to be a need for some universal standards for sharing yoga and yoga therapy with healthcare populations, to enable GPs to prescribe yoga within their ethical and professional guidelines, and to ensure safe and efficacious practice for all.

YiHA is committed to promoting health and wellbeing by making yoga more accessible, initially by collaborating with the UK’s NHS and supporting their unique position as a public health service. And you are personally invited to be part of this movement! To become involved, consider becoming a member of YiHA (you can communicate your interest via our online contact form,, joining the Facebook Group ( and pledging your support for the cause. Benefits of becoming a member of YiHA include:

  • Priority booking for YiHA conferences and events.
  • Regular newsletters and a comprehensive Annual Report.
  • Access to additional resources on the Members Area of the website (in development).
  • Being connected with a community of individuals who are passionate about bring yoga to the NHS!


Another action you might consider could be speaking with your local MP and GPs about the social prescription of yoga and yoga therapy. As part of this, don’t shy away from offering talks and workshops in your local GP surgeries, healthcare settings and Local Councils. You might also wish to attend a five-day specialist training programme, as commissioned by the West London Clinical Commissioning Group, which will equip you to lead the pioneering Yoga4Health ten-week course for NHS populations ( Ongoing support with having conversations with your local healthcare settings and finding ‘in-roads’ to offering yoga in these settings are a further benefit of this course, as led by Paul Fox, one of YiHA’s directors.

In whichever way you decide to take this forward, it is clear that the passion and action of each of us is required to make this commitment to interweaving yoga into the NHS a reality. As Duncan Selbie and Michael Dixon made crystal-clear in their keynote speeches, the time for bringing yoga into the UK healthcare system is NOW. YIHA thanks you for your support and looks forward to collaborating with you in the near future.


In collaboration between



Friday 15th February 2019 (evening only)

Saturday 16th February 2019 (full day)

Sunday 17th February 2019 (full day)


Early bird price until October 31st: £275

Regular price: £325


Duncan Selbie

Duncan Selbie is the founding Chief Executive of Public Health England. Prior to 2013, he was Chief Executive of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals, the regional teaching hospital for the south east of England. From 2003 to 2007 he was the Director General of Programmes and Performance for the NHS and subsequently its first Director General of Commissioning. Prior to this, he was Chief Executive of South East London Strategic Health Authority and before that Chief Executive of the South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust. He joined the NHS in January 1980.

Dr Michael Dixon, LVO, OBE, MA, FRCGP, FRCC

Michael Dixon has been a practicing GP in Devon for over thirty five years and is Senior GP Partner at the Culm Valley Integrated Centre for Health. He was Chair of NHS Alliance for eighteen years (1998-2016) supporting and representing primary care and past President and Senior Advisor for NHS Clinical Commissioners (2013-2016) representing Clinical Commissioning Groups. Since 2010, he has been Chair of the Council of the College of Medicine, which is a multiprofessional College supporting and celebrating innovative approaches to health and care that go beyond conventional and biomedical.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D.

Sat Bir Singh Khalsa, Ph.D. is Director of Research for the Yoga Alliance and the Kundalini Research Institute, and Assistant Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School. He has conducted scientific yoga research since 2001 on yoga for insomnia, stress, anxiety disorders, and workplace and school settings and is a practitioner/instructor of Kundalini Yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan. He coordinates the annual Symposium on Yoga Research, is editor-in-chief of the International Journal of Yoga Therapy, author of the Harvard ebook Your Brain on Yoga, and chief editor of the medical textbook The Principles and Practice of Yoga in Health Care.


Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD

Patricia L. Gerbarg, MD, assistant clinical professor in psychiatry, New York Medical College, graduate Harvard Medical School and Boston Psychoanalytic Institute, practices Integrative Psychiatry and serves on the APA CAIM task force. She researches mind-body practices for stress, anxiety, PTSD, and mass disasters. She and Dr. Richard P. Brown teach Breath-Body-Mind courses and co-author award-winning books: The Healing Power of the Breath, Non-Drug Treatments for ADHD, How to Use Herbs, Nutrients, and Yoga in Mental Health (with Dr. Phillip Muskin), and Complementary and Integrative Treatments in Psychiatric Practice (with Dr. Phillip Muskin) American Psychiatric Association Publishing, 2017.

Richard P. Brown, M.D.

Richard P. Brown, MD, associate professor in clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, graduate of Columbia University Medical College and Cornell University Psychiatry Residency and Psychobiology/Psychopharmacology fellowship, lectures internationally and co-authored over 100 scientific articles, chapters and award-winning books. His neurophysiological theory, exploring effects of yoga breathing in treating anxiety, depression, PTSD and stress-related medical conditions, has been validated in clinical trials. A certified teacher of Aikido (4th Dan), yoga, Qigong, and meditation, he provides Breath-Body-Mind programs for healthcare professionals, yoga teachers, mass disaster survivors, refugees, first responders, veterans, school teachers, and patients with psychiatric and medical conditions.

Dr Amit Bhargava

Dr Amit Bhargava is senior GP Partner at Southgate Medical Group in Crawley, his passion and successes are in transformation through partnership working, improving population health and reducing health inequalities. His current work is in helping patients with the greatest vulnerabilities to remain emotionally and physically well using evidence based mind-body techniques. He has been involved in clinical leadership since 1999 that involved local, regional and national roles, he also has had international advisory experience. He was the Clinical Chief Officer of the Crawley Clinical Commissioning Group till end of 2017, he is on the counsel of the College of Medicine and he was very pleased to be in the HSJ list of the top 100 most influential clinicians 2013.