Guest blog by Minded Institute Yoga Therapist and Supervisor, Elizabeth Bourdon

Ruth Ojadi Tourettes Action UK and Elizabeth Bourdon
Picture: Elizabeth and Ruth

Last December, I attended the above Conference held by Tourettes Action (UK) the UK’s leading support and research charity for people with Tourette Syndrome (TS) and their families.

TS is an inherited neurological condition and it affects more than 30000 children and adults in the UK. The symptoms of TS are tics, repeated movements and sounds which are chronic and involuntary. More than 85% of people with TS have more than just tics though. Conditions such as OCD, ADHD, anxiety and depression are also found to be co-morbid with TS.

The morning included lectures by Hugh Rickards, a Consultant in Neuropsychiatry, Dr. Andrea Cavanna, a Consultant in Behavioural Neurology and Dr Tara Murphy, a Clinical Psychologist.

In the afternoon, the theme was “Tourettes and what helps me”. This was an opportunity for people to talk about their experiences and how they found ways to cope. Some have found that creative projects such as writing poetry was a way in which they could express themselves. Social media has also played a big part in being able to connect people together from all parts of the UK, so that they do not feel isolated.

I had met up with Ruth Ojadi who works for Tourettes Action (UK) before the conference to talk about how she has found yoga so beneficial to her as an alternative therapy. Ruth was keen to talk about her experiences of attending a regular weekly yoga class as she had found it to be very calming and she was already familiar with The Minded Institute’s work having worked with Veena Ugargol the previous year at a TA conference.

In the afternoon, Ruth and I co-presented an item about yoga and the ability to help calm the mind and body. I spoke about the brief history of yoga as well as the benefits and also talked about the current research into how yoga is being used therapeutically for many different populations. I then lead a simple guided breathing practice (bringing the breath down) to the group which everyone seemed to find beneficial.

Ruth and I also demonstrated how to lie in Savasana using props such as bolsters, eye pillows in the palm of the hand, and a heavy blanket to help calm tics. When Ruth and I had met previously, she had remarked that a common symptom of TS was insomnia. Having a heavy blanket on top of the body seemed to bring noticeable calm to the body. Ruth expressed to the group how comfortable this felt and how she was able to get the full benefit of Savasana in her regular yoga class using props in this way.

I would like to thank TA (UK) for inviting me to join the conference which was a fascinating insight into current research & also the practicalities of living with Tourettes Syndrome.

Tourettes in Action (UK) are interested in introducing yoga as an alternative therapy to their support groups. For more information about the work of TA (UK), please contact

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