More than namaste: Moves against yoga prove unpopular

For comedian Tim Ferguson, yoga is much more than a pastime. As a multiple sclerosis sufferer, he practises yoga to help him cope with the condition, which affects the central nervous system.

"I experience muscle spasticity, which means that my muscles will stiffen up and lock," Ferguson said.

"Yoga is a great way to stretch muscles and maintain good circulation in a non-invasive series of exercises."

Ferguson is outraged at the government's removal of yoga and pilates under private health insurance.

"Of course these things can be done by physiotherapy, but the use of yoga can have an immediate effect on muscular spasticity."

The reform package removes natural therapies such as pilates, herbalism and homeopathy. But Ferguson said yoga should not even be considered alongside homeopathy.

"You can see yoga and measure yoga; take a photograph of yoga, whereas with homeopathy it's the bubbles of nothing that actually make it nothing.

"It's easier to knock yoga over because everyone says 'namaste' and does a praying thing with their hands, whereas in fact yoga is just a very healthy practice, just like physiotherapy."

Owner of St Kilda's Taube Pilates, Louise Taube???, said pilates benefited her older clients.

"The benefit is incredible in terms of falls prevention, building bone density and safe exercise. Pilates is more than just prescribed exercise. The human contact offers so much more in terms of health and wellbeing."

Yoga Australia chief Shyamala Benakovic??? said many people would not be able to afford yoga as a result of the changes.

"A lot of people seeking medical advice are referred to yoga," she said.

Ferguson believes yoga also benefits older citizens.

"Keeping people healthy as they get older is surely what the whole point is, I would have thought the wise of the right-wing liberal national party would all be doing yoga," he said.

"Clearly Barnaby Joyce and Cory Bernardi don't do yoga, look at their midriffs; the prime minister has no core strength."

This story More than namaste: Moves against yoga prove unpopular first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.