International Yoga Day 2016 -quietening your mind and improving your physical and mental health

Today, June 21st 2016, is International Yoga Day. Big deal you may say, why should that make any difference to you, your family, your team or your business?  Well if you take a few minutes to read some of the growing body of evidence of the benefits of yoga perhaps it can help you make very positive impacts on all of these areas in your life.

Firstly let’s kick some of the preconceptions of yoga into touch … yoga is not about being  the bendiest or stretchiest in a class ; it is not only for super fit individuals in sprayed on lycra who can manoeuvre and contort their body into positions others may only dream of or pay to see in adult rated films ; you don’t need to be a muesli eating, practical sandal wearing, single person of a certain age ; and most importantly of all, you don’t need to be able to touch your toes to practice yoga. So pushing these stereotypes firmly aside, what is yoga and what benefits could it bring.

At the simplest level, I was taught that yoga is about calming the mind and through this process becoming open to experiencing our true self – this is achieved through breathing (pranayama), meditation (dhyana), exercise (asanas), diet (sattvic) and relaxation (shavasana). Now if I have nearly lost you at this stage, and I know you have limited time,  let’s pull you back in with the article below that was published by Greg McKeown in the Harvard Business Review in October 2014 where a Microsoft Exec found over a period of time that using a number of tools helped reduce his stress and longer term proved life changing for him.

Today, on International Yoga Day 2016, why not try your initial introduction to yoga  through breathing ? No muesli, lycra or gym membership needed and certainly no toe touching required – see if this helps you to feel calmer and more engaged and if it does then tomorrow try if for longer. As you progress and feel the benefits then perhaps introduce it to your team, family and friends. If like me, you embrace new  technologies as you strive for health and wellness, then a great free app to help you on your breathing journey is the biobeats “Hear and Now” app. This app, based on clinically validated stress-reducing and mindfulness practices, will remind you to breathe and guide you through the process, showing you how your heart responds to deep, focused breathing using just your mobile device.

Wishing you a more enlightened introduction to yoga, happy breathing and Namaste






How Big Data Is Transforming Medicine


Original article by Bernard Marr for

When we visit our doctor or go into hospital, we have faith in the knowledge that the healthcare professionals involved are treating us according to proven scientific methods, otherwise known as evidence-based medicine (EBM). This means they’re prescribing drugs or selecting treatment methods that have proven successful in clinical research.

Although the term ‘evidence-based medicine’ only dates back to the early 1990s, the concept itself is much older. Controlled trials were routinely being conducted as early as the 1940s, and clinical knowledge and expertise was already being disseminated in medical journals and textbooks long before that. (In fact, the oldest medical journal still running today, The New England Journal of Medicine, was founded in 1812. Even older, the first official clinical trial was conducted in 1747, into the treatment of scurvy in sailors.)

Clinical trials and studies are all about conducting research into disease and conditions, and the various treatment methods that may ease symptoms or eradicate the illness altogether—they explore which treatments work best for which illnesses and in which groups of patient. All around the world, EBM is the established standard for the provision of healthcare. But, in the age of big data, that might be about to change.

Clinical trials work by testing new treatments in small groups at first, looking at how well the treatment works and to identify any side effects. If a trial proves promising, it is expanded to include larger groups of people. Often the trial will include comparing the new treatment to other treatments by separating patients into different groups, each trialing a different treatment. This is usually done by a process called randomization, where patients are assigned to the various groups randomly.

 In order to safeguard participants and improve reliability, clinical trials have to meet rigorous scientific standards. However, that’s not to say there is no risk of methodological flaws, or that the small-ish populations used in clinical trials always generalize well outside of a particular study. This is where big data can help. By mining the world of practice-based clinical data—i.e. actual patient records—for information on who has what condition and what treatments are working, we could learn a lot about the way we care for individuals.