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Tuesday, 6th February 2024

Pilot for ‘yoga on prescription’ programme starting in Drogheda

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Yoga teacher Susan Roth.

Brookeville resident Susan Roth is a yoga teacher who recently underwent additional training as a Yoga4Health teacher with the UK’s Yoga in Healthcare Alliance (YIHA) and is planning to introduce a similar programme to Drogheda.

The Yoga4Health programme aspires to support individual journeys towards better health and wellbeing and in turn reduce the burden on the health care system. It is born from a wish both to transform health services and to reduce the health inequities that are correlated with economic inequality by reaching into diverse and marginalized communities.

The Yoga4Health Programme is a successful 10-week social prescribing intervention being delivered all over the UK since 2017. Commissioned by the UK’s National Health Service, it fuses the wisdom of yoga practices with modern medical science.

Some of the key findings are that people who participated in the programme needed less medical care, levels of stress and depression went down. They felt more socially connected, their sense of wellbeing and life satisfaction went up, rates of anxiety went down. Their physical health also showed meaningful improvements.

The programme is specifically designed for individuals with risk factors for:

  • Mild-to-moderate anxiety or depression
  • Social isolation
  • At risk of heart disease
  • Prediabetes

“In the UK you can be referred into the programme by a GP, if you suffer from one of those conditions. Unfortunately, this service is not offered as part of the health care system in Ireland but we are hoping this will change in the near future” Susan said.

“The Yoga4Health programme I am offering in Drogheda is about empowering people to discover how much better they can feel by adopting a simple daily yoga practice. It supports them to gain self-care skills by learning yoga breathing, relaxation and mindfulness techniques.

“No prior experience is needed, and the gentle stretching and strengthening yoga moves can be done in a chair or on a yoga mat depending on people’s needs and abilities. Yoga4Health classes are inclusive and secular.

“The course takes place over 10 weeks consisting of weekly two-hour sessions. Places will be limited to 15 people per class. The course will commence on Friday, February 23 from 2 p.m. – 4 p.m. each Friday in the Barbican with a break on Good Friday.”

“Through my own life experience and my training as a yoga teacher, I have discovered how much power we as human beings have to regulate and heal ourselves" - Susan Roth.

The biggest burden in healthcare in terms of its negative impact on mortality, healthcare costs, medical and psychological symptoms, longevity, wellness and quality of life is the worldwide epidemic of chronic lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases (NCDs). These include cardiovascular diseases, obesity, Type 2 diabetes and are often associated with poor lifestyle behaviours.

Susan explains that the practice of yoga provides workable solutions for the prevention and treatment of NCDs. Through its multicomponent practices of physical postures and exercises, breath-regulation techniques, relaxation practices, meditation and mindfulness, yoga improves many physical and psychological characteristics.

“Significant research has demonstrated yoga’s ability to improve stress and emotion regulation, improve physical and mental health, while helping people feel more connected to themselves and those around them- combatting dysfunctional behaviours and reducing NCD risk factors.”

I therefore offer this programme at the price of €50 for the unwaged and at an affordable €120 for people with an income. This is mainly to cover the cost for the venue.

This first round is run as a pilot, but once this programme is established and credibility built I will be looking for funding in order to offer this programme either free or at a nominal rate under a social prescribing model.

Susan is a fully insured teacher with over 600 hours of training as a yoga teacher. She has been teaching accessible Hatha yoga in Drogheda since autumn 2022 (mainly in the Barbican) and has two regular groups.

“People come to my classes for reasons such as wanting to manage their stress levels better, wanting to get stronger, more flexible or reducing their back and neck pain” she said.

“Through my own life experience and my training as a yoga teacher, I have discovered how much power we as human beings have to regulate and heal ourselves.

“I want to share this knowledge and passion with people in our community through the YOGA4HEALTH programme. However, I am not suggesting that this course replaces medical intervention; instead, we want to work alongside the medical profession.”

To book your place on the course, call or whatsapp Susan on 087 255 17 21.

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