Physical activity in the Exwick area of Exeter is fairly limited, and the area’s community builder reported that there was a demand from local residents, some with limited mobility for yoga classes. Exwick’s community physical activity organiser (CPAO) found out about this and together with the community builder, worked to find out about funding opportunities available through the Live and Move Community Development Fund.
Making it happen
Through Live and Move, Wendy Brooking, a yoga teacher with over 15 years experience, was recruited to deliver yoga classes. Wendy has experience of working in a variety of community settings and with people who have diverse needs and abilities. She responded to the advert to deliver community yoga due to her desire to share the practice with others, and with the hope of improving participants’ physical and mental wellbeing.
The CPAO and Wendy worked together to develop the yoga offer, as well as to promote and advertise the sessions to Exwick residents. The CPAO also led on practical aspects, planning and organising the sessions.
The Exwick yoga trial consisted of two offerings, both fully funded by Live and Move, and completely free for participants. Yoga for All consisted of weekly sessions, and Gentle Yoga – a one off session suitable for those with limited mobility.
The inclusive nature of the sessions was reflected in the diversity of participants, ranging from young people with physical disabilities, adults with additional needs, and people of different ages, genders, backgrounds and abilities.
The programme was considered a success and was extended for a further eight weeks – Live and Move provided tapered funding, and paid for venue hire. This enabled Wendy to begin charging participants to test the longer-term sustainability of the class with minimal risk. Live and Move also funded the purchase of yoga mats to further remove barriers to residents attending.
The Exwick Yoga trial successfully engaged Exwick residents as well as some people who would not necessarily have participated in physical activity. Wendy highlighted that the participants benefited not only in terms of their physical wellbeing, but also through building connections with others who attended.
Feedback from participants to the CPAO and Community Builder has all been positive, with participants wanting it to continue.
The affordability of the class has also enabled some people to attend who otherwise would not have been able to due to their financial situation.
“Wendy is a fantastic teacher, and the style of yoga is perfect for my age and ability.”
“I really find it a good start to the weekend. I do a stressful job in the week, and look forward to the session to reset my mind and tense body.”
The success of the trial was felt to be due to:
- Timing and context; the activity was provided at a time when little other physical activity was available in Exwick and, more generally, there is little physical activity provision in Exwick
- The Community Builder’s strong connections with the community, and knowledge of what they want
- The Community Builder working with a CPAO, whose role it is to action this type of activity, enabled by Live and Move funding
- Identifying and engaging a Yoga instructor who was willing to charge a lower rate in order to encourage physical activity within the community.
Following the success of the trial, the yoga group is now fully self-funding, with classes held weekly.
To ensure the class is inclusive and open to all, Wendy has kept the cost of attending affordable, with a further reduced rate for those who are unemployed.
The successful trial has resulted in a new, affordable yoga group being established in an area in which residents have wanted such an offer for several years, and in which the physical activity offer is limited. There are very positive early signs of the classes being sustainable, supported by a committed instructor, due to Live and Move providing an offer which was responsive to the needs of the Exwick community.
“The seeds have been planted, and it’s really up to the people of Exwick now. If they want it, they’ll come.”