NHS yoga

Working in the NHS is a stressful and emotionally demanding role for many people. Edinburgh Community Yoga offer NHS Staff Wellbeing sessions to help.

Chronic stress leads to burnout, and is known to impact on empathy, patient safety and job satisfaction as well as increased incidence of absenteeism.

This is why we believe that yoga can be an effective practice for NHS staff.


The benefit of mind body practices such as yoga and mindfulness have become increasingly integrated into many workplaces as a mechanism for stress reduction and improving both physical and mental health and wellbeing.

It is increasingly important that health care organisations provide support for staff in managing stress, and caring for mental health and wellbeing. High incidence of stress, burnout and decreased job satisfaction is well documented in the literature amongst nursing and medical staff. There are calls from the British Medical Association, Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing for better support of mental health and wellbeing of staff; the Boorman Review (2009) clearly highlights the need for preventative steps to be taken to support the health and wellbeing of staff in Health and Social Care Additionally, good patient care depends on the health and wellbeing of the staff who look after them (Royal College of Physicians 2015).

Edinburgh Community Yoga has been working with Healthy Working Lives in NHS Lothian since September 2015 piloting a variety of yoga sessions and self-care workshops for NHS Staff in order to promote staff health and wellbeing (particularly mental wellbeing).

Our work with NHS Lothian continues, as we develop relationships with Organisational Development and HR services to try to create and implement sustainable programmes aimed at promoting wellbeing and reducing stress. Our team working on NHS staff wellbeing consists of

Lorraine Close– Director of Edinburgh Community Yoga, Registered Nurse MSc Research in Nursing exploring junior doctor mental wellbeing, Clinical Skills Facilitator Edinburgh Medical School

Laura Wilson– Founding Director of Edinburgh Community Yoga, Yoga Therapist

Dr Ellie Heath – GP, Yoga teacher

Inga Cosway-NHS Lothian Healthy Working Lives Health Promotion Specialist

Yoga classes

We now have a well-established and successful yoga classes for staff running at the RIE site and also the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. The cost of the class is £5.00 and class is drop in to allow maximum opportunity for staff to attend a weekly class offering physical activity, relaxation and breathing practices.

Caring for Self as Leaders

This 2 hour workshop continues to run successfully in NHS Lothian as part of the Medical Leadership Academy and the Quality Academy Leadership Programme. In response to feedback ‘Caring for Self as Leaders’ was recently piloted as a half day programme, for which feedback was overwhelmingly positive. 15 individuals who had previously completed leadership training applied to participate. The programme was oversubscribed and we hope to run it again in the future. Future work involves developing this into a one day course with some further work to be incorporated on leadership skills.

Caring for Self as Educators

Grant funding from the University of Edinburgh Institute for Academic Development has allowed us to develop and run a 2 hour workshop called ‘Caring for Self as Educators’

This workshop runs as part of the ‘wellbeing strand’ of the Clinical Educator Programme an NHS Lothian/University of Edinburgh joint programme serving educators who teach undergraduate medical students and has run in NHS Lothian and NHS Fife for clinical educators. Feedback suggests a clear need for increased support and recognition of the impact of stress on staff. Attending this workshop allows doctors to receive recognition of training that meets at least one framework area stipulated by the GMC as necessary to evidence.

FY1 teaching

We offer a one of teaching session for Foundation Year 1 doctors on stress management and wellbeing at work, incorporating mind/body practice and psycho-education about the stress response and the impact of stress and burnout.

Newly Qualified Nurses and Midwives Induction

We are piloting a new session around supporting mental wellbeing and managing stress at work with the induction programme for newly qualified nurses across Lothian, based at Comely Bank. This session will run as part of each cohort of NQN for the next 6 months offering us a strong programme on which to build feedback and evaluation.

GP Practices

Resulting from some of our presentations within the OD and HR groups in NHS Lothian we have been asked to offer short ‘ take 20 and wellbeing sessions’ at several GP practice training afternoons in Edinburgh around the subject of self-care and mind body practice for GP’s. This is work we aim to develop over the next 12 months

Development of App or podcast

Work continues to complete development of an online app or podcast that can be accessed by all staff in NHS Lothian looking to engage in a short routine to aid regulation of the nervous system and relaxation along with some lifestyle advice and tips on managing workplace wellbeing.


Presentations have been delivered on request to many departmental areas of NHS Lothian including HR, Organisational Development and some of the Health and Social Care Partnership groups.

For further information regarding feedback or evaluation from our programmes please contact Lorraine@edinburghcommunityyoga.co.uk