At the start of the year, Yogamatters set out its intention to give back in 2017 in Introducing the High Five Initiative.
The High Five Initiative is Yogamatters’ exciting new community scheme for 2017. This innovative initiative aims to support and encourage a range of great projects which are all transforming lives, renewing hope and working for a better future, both here in the UK and around the world.
Here at Yogamatters, we know what we value. We believe in demonstrating compassion for people and planet and a global community, where every individual is valued, respected, cared for and interconnected. We strive to adopt an attitude of gratitude in all things. We believe wholeheartedly in the transformative power of yoga for everyone and the power of personal stories to inspire, challenge, inform and uplift.
And so we’re delighted to introduce you to the first project we’re celebrating as part of our High Five Initiative. Yogamatters welcomes Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach to the High Five Initiative. ECYO is the not-for profit branch of Edinburgh Community Yoga and stems from a deep belief that the far-reaching benefits of yoga and meditation should be accessible for everyone, no matter their state of health or economic status. ECYO aims to offer yoga and yoga therapy to as many people across Edinburgh as possible, working with local organisations who support vulnerable groups including homeless people, adults in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, women affected by trauma, in-patient psychiatric services and people with long term health conditions.
There is no doubt in our minds that the team at Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach deserves a high five. Our writer Helen Redfern visited Laura Wilson and Lorraine Close on two separate occasions and wrote about these visits for our blog – A Day with Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach and Another Day with Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach.
There she encountered real people with real lives and real struggles. Colleagues Lorraine and Laura actively seek to take yoga into the darkest of places. To meet people where they are at, bringing yoga to them rather than bringing them to yoga. Creating a safe place, an environment that they know and feel comfortable in. Lorraine talks about maintaining an ‘unconditional positive regard’. These aren’t just words. You can feel it in the room. The girls relax. They feel accepted. They feel welcomed. In this room, at this time, everything is OK.
Yes, we all talk about and believe in the transformational power of yoga, but can it really make any difference in the chaotic lives of those seemingly trapped in mental health and addiction struggles?
Yes it can. It really can. After class, we sat and listened to the girls from the Womenzone trauma sensitive yoga programme talking about the real difference yoga has made to their lives.
Even if I’m feeling bad, I will make the effort to come, because I know it will do me good mentally and physically. Lorraine has such a calm manner and knows not to touch and is emotionally intelligent. I can hear her voice in my head when I’m having a panic attack and it has really helped – I am safe. I am safe. Healing has already begun. Collette from the Womenzone Yoga Project
ECYO works closely with the Serenity Café, the most established recovery café in Edinburgh, and social innovation charity COMAS which is based at the café. Working with vulnerable and at risk groups demands an experienced and sensitive team of teachers and all ECYO teachers are appropriately trained, fully insured, police checked and highly respected.
It’s great when you come across people who can actually work with your community. The girls from Edinburgh Community Yoga are like that. They make yoga really accessible for everyone. They bring it here. They cope with everyone. They make it work. We’re looking forward to them being involved in Womenzone. Ruth Campbell, CEO, COMAS
ECYO cannot continue this transformative work without the generous support of those who believe that yoga can benefit everyone in society. Edinburgh Community Yoga contributes 10% of profit to this outreach work but ECYO also depends on grants, fundraising events and individual contributions to keep the programme going.
And so ECYO is delighted to be selected as one of the projects in the Yogamatters’ High Five Initiative. Yogamatters’ support will help ECYO continue to develop its community outreach yoga projects around Edinburgh. Without the support of the wider yoga community, it is impossible for ECYO to bring in enough funds to run classes and pay for the administrative costs involved in running a small, local not for profit organisation.
It’s an exciting time for ECYO. Tickets are now on sale for the second Edinburgh Pay-it-Forward Yoga Festival in aid of ECYO and COMAS. The Edinburgh Pay-it-Forward Yoga Festival is a celebration of yoga in the city of Edinburgh – the teachers, the students, the studios, and the community that keep the city moving, breathing, and well. From 13th – 19th February, 2017, teachers and studios across the city are graciously gifting their time and space to offer yoga classes, from which all proceeds will go to ECYO and Comas. The week culminates with a full weekend line-up at the Serenity Café off the Royal Mile, near Holyrood Park, kicking off with an opening party offering meditation, yoga and kirtan. For more information and to book classes, visit the Festival website. If you cannot attend the festival, but would still like to support the work of ECYO and Comas, then you can donate here.
Yogamatters is proud to be sponsoring the festival as part of the High Five Initiative, by donating essential yoga equipment to be used at the Yoga Festival and by ECYO after in their classes. These yoga mats and props will be invaluable to both the Festival and the work ECYO do.
As part of our High Five Initiative, you’ll be hearing more about ECYO throughout the year. We’ll let you know how the Festival went and the specific projects that ECYO becomes involved in.
Laura, Lorraine and the team at Edinburgh Community Yoga Outreach, we think you’re doing an amazing job and wish you all the very best for 2017. Keep up the good work!