This week, as part of a This Girl Can day, I was invited to Shoreham Academy to teach yoga to all the girls in year 7, 8, 9 AND 10! The day gave them an opportunity to try something new in a fun and informal way and I was amazed at how well they all engaged!  

This Girl Can is a national campaign developed by Sport England to get girls and women moving. The message is fun, friendly and inclusive, aiming to help us overcome the growing trend of inactivity among adults and young people, especially women.

I hated PE when I was at school. Whilst I am extremely driven, I am not a fan of competitive sport and would often make excuses to avoid the lessons. It wasn't until I reached my early 20's that I really found my love of exercise, fueled by a passion for the sea and eventually a sanctuary in my yoga mat. Events such as this, put on by a wonderful team of teachers at the Academy, are so important for young people. Even if just one of those participants finds an affinity with yoga or any of the other activities that were on offer, then it is a success.

Unfortunately it seems that the GCSE PE curriculum is changing next year, yet again, with the re-introduction of all the traditional team games. I hope that schools continue to value the importance of fitness and alternative sports that simply get young people active and enjoying it!  

Yoga Heals

Yoga Heals - yoga and chronic pain

From the moment I started teaching yoga I found myself in therapeutic environments.  It wasn't such a conscious decision but it's something I have always loved. My latest environment is the physio gym at Worthing hospital, where I have been teaching yoga to a group of teenage girls with chronic pain. It seems natural to use yoga in this way although it's not something we hear about that often so I thought I'd share it.

I have worked with people in pain before but haven't had the opportunity to work alongside other professionals and draw from their expertise too. Over the weeks I have learned that with chronic pain there is often link between psychological and physical issues and for this reason yoga and relaxation are really important tools. Most of the girls suffer from anxiety, stress and depression. Knowing which one came first is difficult to tell, but helping them to let go and relax is something I am able to do!

For many of us yoga is a physical practice. For some it is also a meditative practice. However for these girls it is an opportunity to meet other people in the same situation as them, to feel safe, un-judged and supported. The social aspect of these classes is as important as the internal benefits - being a teenage can be confusing enough but not being able to go to school, take part in activities or go out with friends is isolating.  Throughout the sessions we use breathing exercises, meditation techniques and yoga nidra alongside asana to help the nervous system to calm down. The safe environment allows the young people to fully relax, and the results after just a  few sessions have been amazing. One client commented to me and her consultant 'it's the most relaxed I've felt in over a year. I didn't realise I was in so much pain until you made it go away'. 

If there's one thing I've been reminded of through these sessions it's that we should never judge others. We have no idea what another person is feeling, whether it's anxiety or debilitating pain. A lot of the time the symptoms are difficult to see, but that doesn't mean they aren't there. It's also reminded me how powerful simple breathing and quiet relaxation can be! 

For more information on our community projects please contact us, or click here