Information for GPs

Social Prescribing – Could Iyengar Yoga benefit your patients?

59% of GPs think Social Prescribing can help reduce their workload.

In the NHS Long Term Plan, NHS England and Improvement committed to building the infrastructure for social prescribing in primary care:

  • there will be 1000 new social prescribing link workers in place by 2020/21
  • at least 9000,000 people will be referred to social prescribing by 2023/24

It is recognised that social prescribing can meet many different types of non-clinical need, ranging from support and advice for individuals experiancing debt, unemployment, housing or mobility issues to tackling lonliness by building social connections through joining local community groups such as walking,singing or gardening groups.

We believe that Iyengar Yoga can offer the greatest benefit in dealing with long term conditions through therapeutic classes and reducing social isolation and loneliness.

In his pilot study (Daniel James Amin M.Sc., B.Sc., QTLS, GSR) looked at selected poses in Iyengar Yoga and their effect on flexibility. This study demonstrated improvement in hamstring and lumbar flexibilty after a six-week period where subjects attended one class a week. It is recognised that most people are only willing to commit to one class a week.

What makes Iyengar yoga teachers professional and unique?

Training to be an Iyengar teacher is as long and as rigorous as any other professional body and we adhere to a strict Code of Conduct and Ethics. The teacher training lasts three years during which trainees shadow more experienced teachers on a weekly basis. Integral to the training is learning how to adapt poses for students with various joint pain and medical conditions such as high blood pressure, glaucoma, menstruation, menopause, pregnancy and migraine.

Attention to the alignment of the body when practicing the poses is also unique to the Iyengar yoga method but is critical if injury is to be avoided.

We have a duty of care as teachers to ensure that we are improving a student’s physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

Our lesson plans must also consider the time of day, the temperature and how we wish students to feel at the end of a class. A morning class that can be invigorating will include different poses from an evening class that should be more calming. The rigour of the training and attention to these details is unique to the Iyengar yoga method.

All teachers are expected to have a daily yoga practice of at least an hour, attend weekly Iyengar classes with a more Senior teacher and attend Continuing Professional Development courses annually. The commitment to becoming an Iyengar yoga teacher and maintaining our registration is huge but is undertaken gladly by those who have a passion for sharing the wisdom of Iyengar’s teachings to help others live a fuller, happier and more active life.

Recently Iyengar Yoga UK created a Long Covid Programme which is being evaluated by York University. York University also conducted a previous study on the effectiveness of yoga in treating back problems with favourable results.

Over the years there have been various systemic reviews about the effectiveness of Iyengar Yoga in treating various ailments – some are listed below.

Yoga Based exercise improves balance and mobility in people aged 60 and over

Yoga Based exercise improves balance and mobility in people aged 60 and over: a systematic review and meta-analysis(2015)

Sabrina Youkhana, Moa Wolff, Catherine Sherrington, Anne Tiedemann
Age and Ageing, Volume 45, Issue 1, January 2016, Pages 21–29


Yoga for menopausal symptoms – A systematic review and meta-analysis

The effects of yoga on menopausal symptoms have been investigated in 13 randomized trials with a total of 1306 participants.

Yoga can reduce psychological, somatic, vasomotor, and urogenital menopausal symptoms.

Yoga does not seem to be associated with serious adverse events and as fully qualified and insured Iyengar teachers we believe that this method of yoga can only enhance life.

Holger Cramer, Wenbo Peng, Romy Lauche
Maturitas Volume 109, March 2018, Pages 13-25



I went to my first iyengar yoga class on a whim, to keep a friend company. I was in my mid-40s, fairly fit and assumed it would be a doddle. I spent most of the class falling over, and discovered that yoga is harder than it looks! But makes your body satisfyingly stronger. My friend gave up. I carried on and found it hugely helpful for my mental health while caring for elderly relatives and working full-time. It was my 90 minutes a week of calm. I had lower back surgery about 20 years ago and yoga is great for keeping me mobile. I used 'yoga breathing' when having an MRI. We are all different and everyone has a pose that they find easy, as well as some that are a challenge. It's part of my routine now. The minute I retire I am booking in for more classes.


I originally started coming to yoga because I thought it would improve my running. And while it certainly did improve my running speed and reduced the aches and pains I was getting in my legs; what I wasn’t expecting was the positive effect it would have on my mental health. I have a busy life with primary school aged children to care for and a demanding job, and I often find it difficult to switch off my brain. Small worries and anxieties play on my mind. However I found that while I was practicing yoga all those worries melted away. It takes me out of myself and once the sessions are over I feel rejuvenated and ready to face the world again.


I started going to yoga classes many years ago to strengthen my dodgy back in pregnancy. Ever since, I have found Iyengar yoga to be the most accessible form of exercise that can be practiced around children, households, partners, jobs: all one needs is floorspace for a mat and a few props. Its physical benefits are particularly obvious now I’m in my late 60’s: sustained mobility, flexibility and energy. But I equally value its neurological effect: it keeps me calmer, more patient, less highly strung than my natural tendencies would allow.

Over the years I have attended classes with many of the Warwickshire Iyengar Yoga teachers. While their individual styles of teaching vary, their thorough understanding of human physiology, shared commitment to consistency and precision, and their sheer enthusiasm for the practice has been a constant inspiration.


Encouraged by my wife, and coming towards the end of my rugby and athletic life, I decided to try Iyengar yoga. After a few weeks, I realised how beneficial it would have been for my rugby if I had started much earlier. Yoga has helped me to focus on posture and attitude outside of the classroom but to me, the key issue is the quality of Iyengar teachers and the structured way in which they teach. Now, at the age of 84, I still enjoy my classes and daily practice.


I developed backache, as well as the usual morning aches and pains, in my mid-40s. I'd been doing various yoga classes but they weren't enjoyable and didn't help. Thank goodness I discovered Iyengar Yoga at the age of 48. My aches and pains disappeared almost overnight and ten years on I am still free of pain and have more flexibility, stamina and strength than I had in my 30s. Regular practice has also helped me maintain a sense of objectivity and mental resilience to the fluctuations of life and has been especially helpful in helping me to cope with a recent bereavement.


I have been going to Iyengar classes now for 7 years and they are great. We work hard … but we also laugh and laugh. The teacher is brilliant if you have an injury and is intuitive and inventive in getting the stiffest body into asanas. It is always uplifting to have completed her class.


When recovering from an operation, returning to yoga. I felt very safe in the teacher’s knowledgeable and kind hands. I was anxious but the teacher listened, reassured, and responded to my body and mind's needs. It has been a healing and restorative experience which has been invaluable. I have renewed confidence in myself

Sophia H

Yoga with Sarah is a joy! She is patient and kind, always willing to answer my questions and gently challenging my fears, helping me to know and understand my body and find my balance within.


I started yoga to try and keep some flexibility. It has given me so much more than that. The best thing about yoga is how you feel after doing it when you didn’t feel like doing it!


I encountered Iyengar yoga by chance during a time when I was lacking direction following the completion of a degree and trying to pursue a career in a competitive and taxing industry. Initially a sanctuary and source of relief from the everyday pressures of struggling to thrive in a busy metropolis, it soon evolved into a physical and philosophical foundation for all areas of life. Providing me with mental clarity, emotional stability and suppleness and strength that I could never have imagined.