Yoga at Broad Street Meeting Hall

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The Project

It started out as a pilot for a Yoga/wellbeing class. The project’s aim was to support local residents who had been isolated in their homes during Lockdown to attend somewhere they knew for gentle exercise and to share how they feel both during lockdown and now they are getting out more. The attendees learnt how to identify anxiety and stress and some simple coping mechanisms for dealing with it.

The yoga teacher was a trained counsellor and was able to offer participants 1-to-1 sessions if they were particularly anxious or stressed. However, the counselling took up time during the sessions that we had 2 other Yoga facilitators to run the sessions to leave the counsellor free for people to approach.

We had 15 participants registered and the attendant rate each week was between 12 – 15. Due to the constant changes in Covid-19 legislation, participants were sometimes unsure if the activity was still allowed to go ahead. The participants’ feedback was all positive, with 10 out of the 15 stating how rewarding getting out and doing something in a safe way was.

Because of the area, we expected our audience to be predominantly BAME and it ended up a nice mix of Indian, Hindi and British.

What was the impact?

One surprise was that a young woman fleeing Domestic Violence decided to attend with her neighbour. Even though she was frightened to go out she had been told and felt that the Hall and the activity was a safe place where she could relax. She is in touch with local support agencies now and is getting the help she needs.

The project has had a huge impact on Broad Street Hall and on the participants. Broad Street Hall has never facilitated its own activities before, so this was a first for us. The local residents were so pleased to have an activity that they could shape to suit their needs that they have made suggestions for other activities the hall could provide. This has included a Singing for Health group.

What are the next steps?

The participants would like to keep the sessions going but add in guest speakers and make the sessions a holistic wellbeing project, so they are not only taught about anxiety and stress but about healthy eating, the benefits of sleep etc. We are now approaching people and organisations about coming to speak once a month.

The Hindi community have also asked for armchair yoga sessions in their own language. This has led to one of the facilitators of the project setting up local Hindi Yoga classes at the Hall which will be starting lessons in October. “I would never have had the confidence to start my own yoga classes without the support of these sessions” – Neeta

We have also gained 2 volunteers and a new Trustee for Broad Street Hall.

Did you encounter any problems?

The biggest problem we had was getting the participants to leave at the end of each session!

Each session was also more armchair exercise than on the Yoga mat as most participants were elderly and of physical limitations due to old age, physical injuries or being overweight. The attendees felt more comfortable using chairs rather than getting down on the floor.

We did have to bring in extra facilitators as attendees wanted to talk to the counsellor so she could not run the Yoga class as well. We learnt that offering too many things in one session could lead to issues and to ensure that you have enough facilitators to fill in the gaps if you are offering any sort of talking therapy.

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