My work with Salamanda Tandem, an arts charity that helps people with disabilities access art, music and dance, has given me an insight into how beneficial recuperative movement can be.
But it was my father who first introduced me to yoga. Blind and partially deaf, he often felt isolated from the "outside" world, and said yoga helped him connect with other people and the environment he lived in.
After qualifying as a yoga teacher in 2001, I linked up with my husband Geoffrey Fielding - a pilates teacher and qualified osteopath. Geoffrey had begun recommending yoga and pilates to some of his patients.
Geoffrey and I began building a network of professional healthcare associates, such as occupational therapists and healthcare social workers, who we could call on to give health advice to our clients so they could get even more out of the experience. For example, an occupational therapist can take what we are doing in class and help their patient design a movement routine that can be replicated safely at home.
Not long after the project began, the local dance agency Dance 4 got in touch. They wanted us to assess a fitness programme they were running for a local movement clinic for adults in Nottingham who had suffered a fall and were trying to recuperate. We worked with the tutor to ascertain how to get people practising movement in a way that was safe and appropriate for their specific health problems, and the results were positive.
More organisations are starting to see the benefits of offering holistic movement and exercise combined with medical knowledge. We have now developed a blueprint for clinics like these and we plan to roll out new programmes of Iyengar yoga and pilates, starting with one specifically for people with disabilities.
We are also working with local councils, new health centres and carers to ensure people can access these classes and are supported in doing so. It is important that the sessions remain accessible to join and easy to get to, and that they are part of the care package provided by councils.
The government has caught on and is driving many new initiatives in this area: health organisations can outsource some of their patient after care, freeing them up to concentrate on patients who need urgent assistance, and the public are empowered to take charge of their own fitness and well-being in a safe environment.