It’s been a year since Yogamatters launched its High Five Initiative and what a year it’s been! Throughout 2017, the High Five Initiative has celebrated, supported and encouraged five carefully selected projects from across the UK. Each of these fantastic projects demonstrates Yogamatters’ key values in action:-
- compassion for people and planet
- the transformative power of yoga for everyone
- a global community, where every individual is valued, respected, cared for and interconnected
- an attitude of gratitude
- the power of stories to inspire, challenge, inform and uplift
At the start of this new year, Yogamatters has asked representatives of each of these projects to look back over the year that has been and forward to the year to come.
ASHOK TREE FOUNDATION
Throughout 2017, Ashok Tree Foundation continued its work expanding and equipping the Sita Devi Charity School in India eg. in January, the monthly health clinics were expanded to include oral hygiene & health. As yoga is central to the education and wellbeing of the children at the school, the gift of yoga rugs and blankets from Yogamatters was received with delight and gratitude. The project received visitors from the Goodall Foundation and from South Hampstead High School. Yogi Ashokananda has continued to run community yoga classes in venues across London to support the work of the Foundation. At the end of 2017, Ashok Tree Foundation announces the opening of the new Yashoda Bhavan for the community at the Sita Devi Charity School – a great space for daily yoga sessions and much more besides!
BRIGHTON YOGA FOUNDATION
Brighton Yoga Foundation has had an extremely successful year. Yogamatters agreed to be the main sponsor for our 4th Yoga Festival in Brighton & Hove, and gave us encouragement and advice in our journey from running an annual festival to be a charity with year-round programmes of yoga outreach to help take yoga to those who need it most. Our achievements during the year included the following:
* More than 3000 people attended our free weekend Yoga Festival in July 2017
* We ran a day of free specialist and beginners yoga classes on International Yoga Day
* We launched, with support from Yogamatters, our Mats for Hire project locally for the yoga community
* We have been successful in two applications for grants to set up a Yoga for Teenagers project in a deprived area of Brighton
* We set up our own small grants programme to fund yoga-related community projects, receiving 13 applications
* In conjunction with the Brighton Natural Health Centre, we ran a series of forums for local yoga teachers
Over the coming year, we are looking forward to our 5th annual festival event on the 14th and 15th July, which will be bigger and better than ever. In addition to the Yoga for Teenagers project, we also hope to start work with MIND on a yoga for mental health project, and on a programme of integrating yoga into local schools. We also hope to start a project to chronicle the history of yoga in Brighton & Hove, and to set up a directory of yoga studios and teachers on our website: https://www.brightonyogafoundation.org
EDINBURGH COMMUNITY YOGA
2017 has been a huge year for Edinburgh Community Yoga. We have seen our outreach program grow and develop in ways we never dreamed was possible. We now have regular yoga classes running in partnership with more than 10 organisations across Edinburgh (and even beyond!) These range from prisons, psychiatric hospitals, addiction centres, older people’s homes, women’s and veteran’s groups. We also offer a weekly LGBTQ, addiction recovery and chair yoga class alongside our mainstream classes.
We pride ourselves on making yoga accessible to everyone and in 2018, we are looking forward to continuing in the same vein. We are waiting to hear back on several funding applications, which will help support the work we are already doing and if we are successful, will enable to us to reach some new populations too. We are also developing our workplace wellness program and hope to build on the work we have been doing at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh by rolling it out at other sites across the city. Stress is such a huge factor in workplace absenteeism and we are excited at the prospect of helping to shift the culture to one where self care and staff wellbeing are prioritised.
We are so grateful for the support Yogamatters has offered us in 2017 and look forward to developing our relationship further in the New Year.
Every year, one in four of us will experience a mental health problem which prevents us from living our life as we need or want to – that’s millions of us.
Mind is working to make sure nobody has to face a mental health problem alone. We provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. We campaign to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding. We won’t give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect.
2017 saw some big changes. Mind is at the forefront of a change in the way that society is thinking about mental health. More people than ever contacted us for information about mental health. Local Minds launched new services in their communities. More workplaces prioritised staff wellbeing. And a wide spectrum of people helped us plan how to enhance the support we offer online.
There is a huge amount to do and we look forward to working with Yogamatters in 2018 to support more of us with a mental health problem. For more information visit: mind.org.uk
PRISON PHOENIX TRUST
Over 2017, the Prison Phoenix Trust started new yoga and meditation classes in eleven prisons, six of which benefitted from equipment Yogamatters granted us through their High Five Initiative. It is unusual for prisoners to have access to equipment that is in good condition, let alone brand new yoga mats and blocks. Prison yoga teachers say that having proper equipment has improved safety and comfort and the general experience of yoga for their students – that classes are now a pleasant place to go.
The blocks arrived safely thank you! Everyone’s delighted that there are more ways to be stretched 😉 From a women’s prison in Northern Ireland
We are helping maintain 176 classes in 91 institutions around the UK and Ireland. In 2017, we also sent over 3,500 packs containing books, CDs and personal letters to prisoners who asked us for help. Many stay in touch, empowered to find meaning, hope and change in their lives through their practice and ongoing correspondence.
2018 marks our 30th anniversary, so as well as our core work of supporting prisoners in their spiritual lives through yoga and meditation, we are focusing on raising awareness of our work. This includes looking for 30 people who appreciate yoga’s transformative power to commit £500 per year (or £42 per month) for the next three years, helping secure the future of our charity for years to come. Get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to help!
It’s been such a pleasure for Yogamatters to work alongside these amazing projects through the High Five Initiative. In November, Yogamatters launched a donation at checkout scheme, allowing all Yogamatters’ customers the opportunity to give directly to one of these five causes. That is now up and running permanently at the Yogamatters checkout. Over the Black Friday weekend, Yogamatters donated £1 to Mind for every order placed. Here at Yogamatters, we’re looking forward to many more of these opportunities to support the work of these five great projects – watch this space!