Small Acts of Kindness: Yoga in need
Updated: Jun 2
Many of the cornerstones of a good Yoga practice are invaluable for helping to manage these challenging times, and Yoga teachers recognise that they have a special role to play in offering support to the wider community. And so the ‘Small Acts of Kindness’ programme came into being, offering Yoga to those most in need.
Yoga embraces physical movement, important for maintaining a healthy body; breathing practices to improve lung efficiency and to stimulate or calm the body; mental practices such as meditation to help us cope with these unusual stresses; and relaxation techniques that help us to ‘switch off’ for a while. Practicing all aspects of Yoga helps us to be both physically and mentally more able to function effectively, and to build a resilience that helps us to cope with the conditions surrounding the current pandemic.
The pandemic has affected everyone, but disproportionately affects some sectors of society more than others:
Frontline staff who may be working long hours under stressful conditions; may be temporarily living away from family to protect them; may be concerned about colleagues’ or their own exposure to Covid-19
The elderly & isolated who may have been self-isolating for a long period of time, missing out on social interaction with family and friends; and may be overly worried about the impact catching Covid-19 might have on their health or the health of their partners
People with mental health concerns who in many cases are unable to access their usual support routes, and also may be isolated from friends and family
Anyone suffering from the effects of domestic abuse that may have escalated due to imposed close proximity with partners for long periods of time during ‘lockdown’
Ethnic minority groups who may be particularly anxious about the health risks posed by Covid-19
Those facing work & financial insecurity who may already be ‘furloughed’ or laid off; and may not know what will happen to their jobs in the near future
Following on from the recent Mental Health Awareness Week, which this year had the theme of Kindness, the Yoga community has stepped forward to offer support for these people who are particularly impacted by the pandemic.
One of the largest Yoga organisations in the UK, the British Wheel of Yoga (BWY), has created a ‘Small Acts of Kindness’ initiative, due to begin on 8th June 2020. Teachers from across the UK have come together to offer online Yoga, Meditation and Relaxation classes specifically for these vulnerable groups.
BWY has recognised the need for specific classes to provide support for those people who are more heavily impacted by the pandemic. There are currently over 50 specially-created classes available weekly, and more are being added daily. With a wide range of classes, levels of activity and different styles available, no previous Yoga experience is required. As a BWY Teacher Member, I am proud to be part of this initiative.
The classes will be live-streamed via Zoom – the only technical equipment that you need is a screen (laptop or ipad preferable). Allow yourself enough space for a Yoga mat (if you have one) and to be able to move freely. Wear some loose, comfortable clothing, have a drink of water handy, and join in.
The classes have been divided into different physical activity levels:
Physical – some standing, lying and sitting
Gentle Physical – a less physically active class but will also include standing, lying and sitting
Gentle Years Yoga – a seated chair-based class
Relaxation and Meditation – Lying or sitting comfortably for relaxation and meditation
After taking a look at the BWY website and choosing a class, you can contact the tutor directly via email. Before you can be included in the session there is a questionnaire to be filled out, plus a short interview regarding any health issues. Just allow enough time for this to take place a few days before the first session, then enjoy your class!
Sources & Further Information: British Wheel of Yoga https://www.bwy.org.uk/www.bwy.org.ukacts-ofkindness/