Lucy and Connie Sporne

When Connie Sporne took up yoga 25 years ago she had no idea that within a decade she would have relocated to Doha in the Gulf Emirates with her husband, an oil and gas engineer, and be teaching the practice in people’s homes, one of them a princess’s palace.

At the time she was living in Adelaide, had children, owned and ran a health food store, and was training to be a naturopath. A technique to reduce stress seemed a useful part of the mix.

Later, Connie moved to Melbourne where she took up yoga teacher training, and conducted classes that were attended by her daughter Lucy, then pregnant with twins, now aged 36 and also living in Alstonville.

aerial yoga

As yoga increasingly puts the world into contortions, a key challenge for would-be followers is choosing a style to adopt. In the Northern Rivers, there is no shortage of options, from the traditional to the upside-down. GP Speak editor and yoga enthusiast Robin Osborne investigates this increasingly popular form of exercise.

Cricket may be India’s national sport but it is the home-grown pastime of yoga that has been enshrined in the governance of the country where it was developed. After coming to office a year ago, India’s charismatic prime minister Narendra Modi established a ministry with a name as complex as a difficult yoga asana (posture) – the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga and Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy.

Then, with the backing of the United Nations General Assembly, he announced that an International Yoga Day would be held annually on June 21, the solstice/equinox, depending on the hemisphere one inhabits.

Book Review - The Goddess Pose|
Michelle Goldberg
(Knopf 323pp)

Reviewed by Robin Osborne

With yoga’s booming popularity in the West, increased interest is being shown in the practice’s history. A key figure was Paramahansa Yogananda, whose memoir Autobiography of a Yogi was a cult classic in the 1970s. He is now the subject of a new documentary, Awake, doing the rounds of Australian cinemas.

Kevin Hogan at Casino Hospital

As any health professional would know, it is often difficult to attract GPs to regional and rural towns.

This is why the Federal Government recently overhauled its GP Rural Incentives Programme (GPRIP), which means towns like Casino, Coraki, Evans Head, Kyogle, Iluka and Yamba will now receive increased subsidies to attract and retain doctors.

The new GPRIP system delivers a fairer system for smaller towns; redirecting money to attract more doctors to smaller towns that have genuine difficulty attracting and retaining doctors.

 It made no sense that under the previous government’s system, some $50 million a year was being used to pay incentives for doctors to live in 14 large regional cities, including Townsville (population 175,000), and Cairns (population 145,000).

It makes much more sense to use the GPRIP funding to attract doctors to where the greatest shortages are - small rural and remote communities, not big regional cities.
This means bigger incentive payments will go to doctors who choose to work in the areas of greatest need.

The highest incentive paid to work in remote Australia will jump from $47,000 a year to $60,000 a year. The maximum incentive to work in a town of less than 5,000 in regional Australia will increase from $18,000 to $23,000.

Matt Kelly and Joy Gu preparing to administer Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy

Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in Australia. Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer (NSCLC) is the commonest form, accounting for about 80% of all lung cancers. Surgery remains the gold standard treatment for early (stage I & II) NSCLC but only a small proportion of NSCLC patients are diagnosed in early stages. A significant number of these patients have cardiovascular and respiratory comorbidities and are therefore not suitable for surgery. Historically these patients were either treated with standard conventional radiotherapy or offered no treatment at all. However the outcomes after standard radiotherapy have been poor to modest (5 year survivals ranging from 0-42% with local control rates of up to 60%). Conventional radiotherapy is usually given over a 4-6 week period (20-30 visits) on a daily basis.

Stereotactic Ablative Body Radiotherapy (SABR), also known as stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT), is a relatively new technique, for treating small volume early stage NSCLC and small volume lung secondaries.