Between 2008 and 2010 I taught two group classes for people living with mental health problems. These classes were run in collaboration with MIND. For most participants these classes became a lifeline, improving their breathing, their self-confidence and life management skills. After only very few sessions many of them were relieved to find that they suffered less from anxiety, depression and panic attacks.
Participant in one of the MIND yoga classes, 2009
At present I teach a programme of Mindful Movement and Relaxation which consists of 3 consecutive modules aimed at people who find themselves in difficult life situations and have the wish to put a support into place which will allow them to create more stability, resilience, ability to cope, and bring about sustainable change in a self-directed way. It is based on movement and breathing practices that develop awareness of body, breath and mind and are supported by life skill concepts from the yoga tradition.
Mindful Movement and Relaxation 1st Step: The programme starts with a gentle 5-week module that allows people to find out whether working with their body and breath might create an appropriate support for them without committing too much time or money to something that is unknown.
Mindful Movement and Relaxation 2nd Step: This is an 8-week follow-up which builds on movement and breathing techniques learnt in the 1st Step course. Consolidating new habits, meeting needs constructively, building and maintaining a calm breath and mind from which to move forward.
Mindful Movement and Relaxation: 3rd Step: This is a 10-week course following on from the 2nd Step. Confident movement, a steady breath and kind self-awareness provide a firm platform for clear direction and creation in your life. This module includes one 1:1 session for each student to establish a suitable, personal home practice.
‘I had a very stressful week and had a crisis point towards the end of the week during which I would normally have drowned my emotions in alcohol. Instead I lay on the floor and did my breathing practices and found I did not need, or want the alcohol anymore.’ Participant in the Mindful Movement 1st Step Class, 2014
Whereas I collect feedback from my students and can see the positive effect that their yoga practice is having on their lives it is beyond the scope of my own work to undertake any formal evaluation of its effects but here’s a fantastic website of a group of yoga teachers doing very similar work who have put together some inspiring interviews with yoga students as well as counsellors working alongside them. If you need inspiration, motivation, confirmation … this is a good place to look: