Yoga – public health benefits

Public health is in crisis, warns the NHS, because of obesity. One in four British adults is obese, according to a UN Food and Agriculture Organisation report in 2013, and the UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden. As a result, the country’s health system is buckling under the pressure of obesity-related conditions including type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer, leading to needless deaths and disabilities from avoidable diseases.

Stress has also been described as an epidemic, with a 2010 survey by mental health charity Mind showing that more than 20% of workers phone in sick because of stress. And, according to a Department of Health report, mental ill health is the single largest cause of disability in the UK,with its wider economic costs in England estimated at £105.2 bn each year.

There is no doubt about the physical and mental benefits of yoga to the individual, not least in terms of increased fitness, reductions in stress and anxiety and general improvements in wellbeing.

And public health gains in equal measure, not only from specific benefits of regular yoga practice but because yoga generally promotes a healthy lifestyle of eating well and exercising regularly, which is music to the ears of health chiefs.


The core year-round aim of the Brighton Yoga Festival is to bring more people to yoga by offering free taster sessions and eliminating the usual barriers to trying out yoga – barriers not only of cost but of finding a yoga approach that is suitable and accessible to the individual.

Not everyone will go on to take up yoga long-term but by welcoming thousands through our doors we greatly increase the chances that some will become regular practitioners and advocates, potentially reducing the pressure on public health services from those people and others they may in turn attract, and generally spreading the message about healthier lifestyles.

We are the only body in the UK to do what we do and public health in and around Brighton & Hove can be the better for it.