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Outplaying rugby, but referee’s out
Yoga is shedding its mung bean image, but not everyone is happy with its mainstream makeover, writes Jane Lyons A BUG’S LIFE
By Dr Adam Taor

HEN James Hase-
mer was three he
What is yoga?
would regularly Yoga, a word derived from the
Clostridium botulinum
wander into his ancient Sanskrit meaning ‘‘to CLOSTRIDIUM botulinum is the
parents’ bedroom and look unite’’, originated in India about beauty and the beast of the bug
with astonishment into the 3000 years ago. world. This bacterium is a
inverted face of his father, ■ Hatha is the umbrella term for potential weapon for devastating
who, like many alternative the most popular form of yoga, bioterror attacks, and yet it’s also
lifestyle dabblers of the 1960s, which involves physical postures, an instrument of beautification.
was doing one of his morning meditation and breathing. These two seemingly opposite
headstands. uses stem from the fact that
Now 36, Hasemer has been prac-
■ Iyengar, Ashtanga, Bikram, and
tising such yoga moves for the last Satyananda are well-known Hatha Clostridium botulinum produces
18 years and runs the Central styles. Iyengar emphasizes the most poisonous substance
Yoga School in Sydney’s inner- alignment of the body and holding known, botulinum toxin, which
city suburb of Surry Hills. the posture. Ashtanga involves acts on nerves to paralyse
What he now watches with be- postures done in a flowing muscles. Doctors use botulinum
musement is yoga’s shift into the sequence. Bikram yoga involves toxin in minute doses to treat a
mainstream and an exponential doing sequences in a heated room.
rise in its popularity.
wide range of medical conditions
Satyananda combines chanting, where there is muscle spasm,
With even burly rugby teams
such as the Roosters and South meditation and physical postures. such as blepharospasm (spasm of
Sydney giving yoga a go as part of ■ There are a number of other the eyelid muscle resulting in
their fitness regimes, it seems Hatha schools, including Vinni, closure of the eye). Cosmetic
yoga’s ‘‘herbal’’ image has been Integral and Heart yoga. surgeons use it to paralyse facial
forever changed. And its move out
muscles and conceal wrinkles.
of the fringes has been aided by
the A-list advocacy of stars like Tips for beginners Bioterrorists, on the other hand,
Madonna, Gwyneth Paltrow, and are interested because it’s a killer
Claudia Karvan. ■ Make sure you choose the of astounding potency. One gram
According to the Australian Bu-
appropriate class for your level. If is enough to kill more than a
reau of Statistics 2002 report, Par- million people, it’s estimated. US
ticipation in Sport and Physical you’re a beginner, make sure it’s a
beginners’ class. authorities believe the Japanese
Activities, 2.1 per cent of the
Aum Shinrikyo cult unsuccessfully
Australian population, or almost ■ Make the teacher aware of any
half a million people, now practise injuries and go slow. tried on a number of occasions in
yoga. It is one of the top 10 most the 1990s to launch a botulinum
popular physical activities, usurp- ■ Leave the ‘no pain, no gain’ toxin attack, before successfully
ing even rugby, which comes in at mentality at the door. It’s not
using another deadly agent, sarin.
number 11. aerobics. You shouldn’t be trying to
Clostridium botulinum’s natural
Law firm Minter Ellison has out-pretzel the person next to you.
been subsidising yoga classes for habitat is soil, and the bug thrives
■ Recognise your limits. Yoga can in places where there is little
its Melbourne office workers for challenge your body but if it really
the past three years. According to Heads first: James Hasemer, standing, conducts a class in Surry Hills, Sydney Picture: Andy Baker oxygen. Its spores are resistant to
hurts, stop.
Alison Meade, the firm’s occupa- heat and disinfectant and live for
tional health and safety officer, long periods if exposed to the air,
everybody from the tea lady to the Fitness First has 40 gyms across ‘‘The mind is a good master and ‘‘purists’’, but says she is more her classes, as well as some tai chi who may not be well trained,’’ dormant until conditions are right
firm’s partners attend the classes. Australia and almost 200,000 mem- not a good slave. Yoga can be quite concerned with getting people to hand movements, was partly a admits Sally Flynn, head of Na-
‘‘This is all part of a work-life
for them to germinate and
bers. They run five yoga classes a confrontational because we are move and to think about their business decision in a very com- ture Care College’s yoga teacher
balance which promotes a happy week, as well as their hybrid trying to make the mind more like health. She points out that these petitive market. training program.
produce their deadly toxin.
and healthy workplace,’’ she says. ‘Bodybalance’, which incorporates a slave and you’re having to be classes often feed the yoga schools, With yoga schools seemingly But with no consistent accredita- If food contains the toxin then
Lawyer Jennifer Blom, 29, has yoga, Pilates and tai chi. still,’’he says. with people getting a ‘‘taste’’ and popping up on every street corner, tion scheme or agreement on stan- we’re potentially in trouble. But
been going to the classes since the But many have accused yoga of Hasemer believes this is why moving onto the purer forms. concerns have also been raised dards among a wide variety of botulinum toxin is relatively
beginning and says she is ‘‘com- becoming the new aerobics, and people are often attracted to dy- Gaby Hughes, who until re- about teaching standards. different styles, it can be difficult for sensitive to heat. It can be
pletely addicted’’. fear that too many of its new namic styles of yoga like Ash- cently ran Urban yoga in Sydney’s Dr Scott Burne, Sports Physician potential students to be sure they inactivated by heating to 100C for
She’s not alone: NSW parlia- adherents are looking less inside tanga, Bikram or other flow styles Potts Point, thinks the direction at Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs Sports have found a good yoga teacher.
ment staff have in-house yoga themselves and more on achieving (see box). yoga is taking in the States — Medicine Centre, says experienced about 10 minutes, so proper
Flynn, who has been practising cooking protects us. Botulism
classes to help them de-stress, and the ‘‘yoga body’’. But Hasemer’s biggest concern where at least one gym has intro- teacher supervision is imperative in
for 25 years, says experience is one
even midwives say there’s evi- Fitness First’s national group is what he sees as the watering duced ‘‘cardio-yoga’’ to a disco beat preventing yoga injuries. from food is rare.
of the key factors to look for.
dence that prenatal yoga can help fitness manager Yvette Flacke down of yoga to suit people’s tastes — is ‘‘off the track’’. He has two patients in their 60s So food-borne botulism is more
women cope with childbirth. says she gets frustrated by stu- and expectations. However, she doesn’t believe all and 70s with tendon tears from And with an increasing aware-
ness in Australia of lifestyle issues, an ‘‘intoxication’’ than an
Jamie Papar, a strength and dents who expect to walk away ‘‘There is a tendency to give adaptation is wrong. doing yoga. He says teachers need
infectious disease. If you were
fitness co-ordinator with South with the physique of Madonna. people what they want, not what ‘‘I think yoga has to keep pace to be sensitive to age and pushing Dr Marc Cohen, head of comple-
Sydney last year, says yoga is an Hasemer argues this kind of focus they need. People think they are with us, you can’t just keep prac- people beyond their limits. mentary medicine at RMIT, says unfortunate enough to ingest the
ideal way to relieve a player’s ignores yoga’s emphasis on the body coming for a massage, but it is not tising something that was first According to him, the other interest in yoga is part of a toxin it would be absorbed from
tightness during intensive pre- as a tool for achieving mental clarity like that at all — they have to developed thousands of years ago, groups that need to take care are broader dynamic. your gut into your blood, which
season training. and personal transformation. work,’’ he says. because our lives and tastes are those with arthritis, spinal prob- ‘‘Yoga is part of a more pro- would transport it to nerves. Here
But the biggest proliferation According to him, quietening Flacke admits Fitness First’s different now,’’ she says. lems such as disc protrusions, and active approach to health and a the toxin irreversibly attaches to
and mainstreaming of yoga has the mind’s chatter can be distaste- Bodybalance and their basic yoga Her decision to add ambient those with tendon injuries. move to complementary medi-
nerve cells and blocks the
been through the gyms. ful to some people. style classes may clash with the music to the beginning and end of ‘‘Sometimes there are teachers cine,’’ he says.
transmission of nerve signals,
effectively causing paralysis.
BODY PARTS: EATING BREAKFAST Symptoms begin as early as two
hours or as long as eight days after

The good, bad and ugly side of cholesterol

ingestion and include double
vision, drooping eyelids, slurred
speech and weakness. If
untreated, botulism can cause
paralysis of the arms, legs, and

NY woman who has tried one waxy substance found in the fats, ‘‘good cholesterol’’ and carries be- (2005;81:388-396) found that
of the myriad diets that come or lipids, in your blood. Cholesterol tween one-third and one-quarter women who skipped breakfast ate breathing muscles (and so can
and go with the length of their is important in forming cell mem- of the cholesterol in the blood. It is more during the day. kill). If food-borne botulism is
skirts will tell you that eating break- branes and hormones in the body believed HDL carries cholesterol In addition, the women’s choles- diagnosed quickly there is an
fast is one of the few things sug- but too much can cause heart away from the heart and back to terol levels, particularly the level of antitoxin that blocks the
gested by all weight-loss programs. disease. the liver, where it is passed from LDL in their blood, were raised botulinum toxin in the blood.
We’ve all been told that break- Cholesterol and other fats do not the body. HDL could also play a after skipping breakfast and they
dissolve in the blood and so are role in removing excess cholesterol
Patients may need to be put on a
fast is the most important meal of were also resistant to the effects of
the day. If you want to lose weight, transported through the body by from plaques on the artery walls, ventilator, a mechanical breathing
insulin, leaving them at risk of
you’re better off skipping lunch or carriers called lipoproteins, of thus slowing the growth of the higher blood sugar levels and the machine, but today only about 5
dinner than going hungry at which the main ones are low- deposits. development of diabetes. per cent of sufferers die. But those
breakfast time. density lipoprotein (LDL) and In the breakfast study con- While it is known that insulin who survive may have fatigue and
Now it appears that breakfast is high-density lipoprotein (HDL). ducted by scientists at the Univer- sensitivity varies between meals, shortness of breath for years.
also important for a healthy heart. LDL is the major carrier of sity of Nottingham in the UK, 10 the scientists are unable to explain
Research shows skipping break- cholesterol in the blood and is healthy women aged 19 to 38 years why the timing of breakfast was so
fast increases cholesterol levels in known as ‘‘bad cholesterol’’ for its of a normal weight ate a bowl of critical. But they noted that insu-
your blood. role in atherosclerosis. Too much cereal between 7am and 8am for
lin stimulates the production of an
The study also suggests that LDL circulating in the blood can two weeks. After two weeks, the
enzyme involved in cholesterol
skipping your breakfast can de- stick to the walls of the arteries, women skipped breakfast for two
synthesis, suggesting lower choles-
crease your sensitivity to insulin, forming a hard deposit or plaque more weeks but ate the same bowl
terol levels after you’ve eaten Tokyo terrorism: Sarin gas was
which keeps blood sugar levels on artery walls that restricts blood of bran flakes and low-fat milk at
breakfast might be related to used simultaneously on at least
under control. flow and ultimately can result in a midday instead.
lower levels of insulin. three subway lines, killing 12 and
The American Heart Associa- heart attack or stroke. The study, printed in the Amer-
tion describes cholesterol as a soft HDL is often referred to as ican Journal of Clinical Nutrition Justine Ferrari Best eaten: Everyone agrees, skipping breakfast is bad injuring thousands

Medical Appointments SONOGRAPHER

Bunbury Branch
SKG Radiology is the largest provider of medical
Website: www.ccahs.nsw.gov.au imaging services in WA, with 26 metropolitan
and country branches, including premier hospital
Modbury Public Hospital Emergency Medicine Staff Specialist – locations. At SKG Radiology, we use state of
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Locum Positions (6 or 12 Months) to provide the highest quality of service to our
Position No: CC5-125 patients and referring practitioners.
The Central Coast is an expanding healthcare region. In 2003, Gosford
Patient Services Manager Emergency Department had 46,000 attendances and Wyong 38,205 Our Bunbury branch is seeking an enthusiastic
attendances, making them among the busiest Emergency Departments and fully qualified Ultrasonographer in search of a
Permanent Full Time position. in NSW (average admission rate 38–42%). Gosford is the regional challenging and rewarding career. Bunbury, the gateway
An exciting opportunity exists to manage and provide leadership to the clerical team at Modbury Public trauma centre and both departments have a significant paediatric to the South West region of Western Australia, is
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completed 2005–2006. WA’s most recognised natural and cultural attractions
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over the next 12 months. 22 - 24 February 2005 Director of Wyong Emergency Department and 9 Emergency Physicians).
Hours: Day and evening shifts and participation in an on-call roster for
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The position will be responsible for clerical staff in the following areas: Front of House, Unit Secretaries, The successful applicant will be fully accredited with
Medical Records, Clinical Coding, Outpatients, Clinical Typing, Switchboard and Emergency Reception. Wentworth Sofitel Sydney nights and weekends. Each week includes 25% rostered non-clinical
time. Clinical shifts include acute patient management, supervision of the Australian Sonographic Accreditation Registry
Official media partners: training registrars/junior medical staff, and overall management of (ASAR) and possess excellent communication skills,
Essential Requirements:
patient flow through the department – Emergency Physicians have be able to work autonomously, be a team player in
• Demonstrated experience in managing staff with diverse roles
right of admission to the hospital in patient teams. a multidisciplinary branch and have an outstanding
• Experience within health related office environment
• Project management experience
Australia’s foremost This is a great opportunity to join an established and expanding patient first attitude.
Emergency Service. We have a large and successful Registrar training
• IT experience - OACIS familiarity advantageous SKG Radiology offers an attractive salary package,
interactive medico-legal programme with 18 advanced trainees at any one time.
Lifestyle on the Central Coast is second to none, with beautiful flexible working conditions, and outstanding professional
Salary and conditions to be negotiated. beaches, lakes and waterways, plus urban and rural landscapes. The development. We provide an environment in which
Closing date: Friday 18 March 2005 conference for knowledge, population is 300,000–400,000 and all major activities are supported, motivated individuals can take ownership of their lists
including cultural, sporting and educational. Both Sydney and to facilitate outstanding patient care. In addition, you
Enquiries and applications to: Newcastle CBDs are less than 11⁄2 hours away by freeway or air-
Larraine Coward,
answers and networking Organised by:
conditioned train.
will experience a supportive work environment with
a proactive focus on occupational health. Relocation
Human Resources Officer All applicants must have FFAEM and/or other specialist recognition as expenses can be negotiated.
provided for in the Salaried Senior Medical Practitioners Award. Pay
Modbury Public Hospital and conditions of work are as per the Salaried Senior Medical For further information on SKG Radiology please visit
Smart Rd. Modbury S.A. 5092 Bonus: 1/2 day pre-conference workshops: Practitioners Award (NSW). our website at www.skg.com.au
Enquiries: Dr David Kirkpatrick, Area Director of Emergency Services Please forward your application by 5pm Friday, 1 April 2005 to:
Phone: 8161 2314 Workshop A: Best Practice Compliance and Looking to increase your (Central Coast), (02) 4320 3560, email: dkirkpatrick@doh.health.nsw.gov.au
Email: lcoward@healthscope.com.au Complaint Handling market profile? Application Forms: Ms Pauline Chapman (02) 4320 3220, email: Karol Separovic, People Services Consultant
Workshop B: Effectively applying and A variety of sponsorship pchapman@doh.health.nsw.gov.au SKG Radiology, PO Box 24, WEST PERTH 6872
opportunities are Closing Date: 8 April 2005. karol.separovic@skg.com.au
understanding the ramifications of the new
available. Please call Michal Applications should be addressed to: Dr Stephen Christley, Chief
national standard for credentialling Executive, PO Box 361, Gosford NSW 2250.
www.healthscope.com.au Osmo on (02) 9923-5012

Salary and conditions are in accordance with relevant award/enterprise agreements.

Northern Sydney Central Coast Health is an Equal Opportunity Employer providing
REGISTER NOW! Contact Amy Smith on TEL: (02) 9923 5090 a smoke-free environment. Successful applicants will be expected to abide by the
Code of Conduct and be committed to ethical practices. Relevant criminal record
FAX: (02) 9959 4684 ● EMAIL: info@iir.com.au ● VISIT: www.iir.com.au/health checks (including Child Protection checks) will be conducted on applicants Excellence in Diagnostic Imaging
recommended for employment to positions within the NSW Health System.

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