#24: The Health Benefits of Yoga with Dr Claire Hennigan

29 Jul 2019

Today we’re talking with Dr Claire Hennigan (@Real Yoga Doctor) about Yoga as a method of restorative practice, an exercise and even a way of life.

Yoga is a practice that I talk about a lot in the new book “Eat to beat illness” as a mind body intervention that I believe is essential for our busy modern lives.

In this episode, we cover the following:

  • Yoga as a stress relieving strategy
  • Inflammation related changes
  • Immune system effects
  • Community aspect of yoga

And you can find all of this information and more at www.thedoctorskitchen.com and don’t forget to subscribe to the newsletter for weekly science based recipes and listen to the end of the pod for a summary of our discussion.



We give so much of our day to other people and caring for others that we often forget to look out for ourselves and ways to keep us well, and I think to be able to treat people, that we first need to be able to treat ourselves well

Dr Claire Hennigan

Fascinating stuff from Dr Claire.  Today we talked about how yoga can be thought of as therapy for things like chronic stress - something that we see as GPs super super commonly.  And its also very clear to us that loneliness is becoming an absolute epidemic.
As a stress relieving strategy - yoga is a perfect exercise, but others such as Pilates and Qigong, can be just as effective.
We also talked about how yoga can balance inflammation as well as positively impacting the expression of your genes.
Some small scale research has demonstrated that yoga can improve your immune health as well, by increasing the availability of certain cells that are responsible for maintaining your fighting availability against infection.
The research that we also talked about on the show is linked below for information. 
And lets not forget the community aspect of yoga.   Not only can you do yoga as an individual practice, but it is also encouraged, especially in the early stages of your practice - to do this as part of a group and to go to a few classes.  Of which there are many available - not only in high end studios but also in church halls and similar locations all up and down the country
If you’re interested on hearing more about what Claire is up to with Real Yoga Doctor, please click on the links here which will take you to the relevant social media pages.

GUEST: Pam Warhurst

Dr Claire Hennigan MBBS MRCGP is a GP based in South London. Dr Claire took time out from her GP training scheme to travel to India to become a yoga teacher, completing 200 hours Vinyasa/ashtanga training in 2016.  Since then has also completed a further mentoring 40 hour training and therapeutic yoga levels 1 & 2. Claire now teaches publicly alongside working as a GP and has been able to teach yoga to other doctors in conferences and seminars. Claire is particularly interested in the health benefits of yoga, including helping with mental health, musculoskeletal and chronic diease problems. Allowing us to take more control of our lives and become more resilient with our health and wellbeing. Claire is also undertaking an MSc with the University of Surrey in nutritional medicine which she hopes to be able to link into her work as a GP.  


Books: The heart of Yoga by Desikachar Light on Yoga by Iyengar Youtube: Yoga with Adrienne Academic articles: Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2013 Mar;38(3):348-55. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2012.06.011. Epub 2012 Jul 15. Yogic meditation reverses NF-κB and IRF-related transcriptome dynamics in leukocytes of family dementia caregivers in a randomized controlled trial. Black DS 1 , Cole SWIrwin MRBreen ESt Cyr NMNazarian NKhalsa DSLavretsky H. PLoS One. 2015 Oct 13;10(10):e0140212. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0140212. eCollection 2015. Relaxation Response and Resiliency Training and Its Effect on Healthcare Resource Utilization. Stahl JE 1Dossett ML 2LaJoie AS 3Denninger JW 4Mehta DH 5Goldman R 6Fricchione GL 4Benson H 6 . Health Psychol Rev. 2015;9(3):379-96. doi: 10.1080/17437199.2014.981778. Epub 2015 Apr 15. How does yoga reduce stress? A systematic review of mechanisms of change and guide to future inquiry. Riley KE 1 , Park CL 1 .

with Dr Marvin Singh, MDwith Dr Monty Lymanwith Dr Orlena Kerekwith Pam Warhurst

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