Davy Jones has been teaching yoga for 12 years and practising for 20. He is chair of the Brighton Yoga Foundation and, here, explains how the organisation is helping to reach out to diverse areas of the community:
Yoga is all around us – recommended by NHS England and countless health and well-being reports and practitioners. Many thousands of people up and down the country benefit from it every week.
But does it reach the people who need it the most? Many people think yoga “is not for them”: yoga classes are expensive if you are on a low income; popular images of yoga highlight the young, fit and healthy; the yoga community can sometimes seem intimidating to newcomers.
The Brighton Yoga Foundation is on a mission to overcome these barriers and bring yoga to communities who traditionally have not had or wanted access to it.
Brighton Yoga Foundation grew out of the annual Brighton Yoga Festivals – we delivered the 5th highly successful event in July 2018 with around 3000 people attending. It is now the largest free yoga festival in the UK and Europe. The free entry encourages new people to give yoga a try.
Two years ago we became a registered charity and the focus of our work since has changed dramatically. We now spend much of our time developing, supporting and funding yoga outreach projects in local communities and that work is growing rapidly. We have six strands of such work already:
- Taking yoga into schools across the city and surrounding areas – the local Council has approached us to help them take yoga in to every secondary school in the city;
- A pilot programme of yoga for stressed teenagers in deprived city areas, which we hope to extend next year;
- A pilot programme of yoga for mental health in deprived city areas, again which we hope to extend to other areas;
- Yoga classes for women recovering from abuse or suffering from stress;
- Yoga classes for LGBT youngsters in the city; and
- Inter-generational yoga classes which bring together young children and elderly care home residents with early onset dementia.
We also aim over the next year to develop programmes of work in the NHS, with the police and in the local prison.
Feedback from our projects has been great with comments such as these from the Yoga for Teenagers classes:
“I thought it was a great way to relieve stress especially after school it calms you down and makes you think of all the good things in life that we don’t always appreciate” Jessica aged 14
“After the session of Yoga my body feels more relaxed and I feel more calm most of the time” Willow aged 16
And Sarah who teaches the classes for women at Threshold Women’s Services explains that: “Some of the women report that they feel desperate when they wake up, or have real problems with depression and anxiety. But when they leave the yoga classes they feel relaxed and more confident about dealing with these pressures.”
Brighton Yoga Foundation is currently running a crowdfunder campaign to raise funds to enable us to carry out this community outreach work. You can find the campaign here: https://chuffed.org/project/brighton-yoga-foundation