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Yoga is a great way to improve your physical and mental wellbeing.

It is an ancient exercise that focuses on deep breathing, relaxation, flexibility and strength. Our yoga classes have proven to be very popular and with the experience we have in working with people living with long term medical conditions, we can help people manage their pain and improve mobility. 

We have branched out to deliver our Yoga with inmates at Kilmarnock Prison to help improve their mental wellbeing. In 2019 the Lifestyle Development team led a pilot programme in partnership with Patchwork, a volunteer run recovery network that provides an opportunity to those with pre-existing drug and alcohol use issues to engage in volunteering activities. The pilot ran over a period of nine weeks and included a pre and post assessment. Six people started the pilot study, with five completing assessments on the final week and the results were very favourable.

The content was based on a programme devised by Shaura Hall for the Minded Institute in London, a world leader in Yoga Therapy and Mindfulness training. In healthcare, mind-body practices are being increasingly recognised for their ability to compliment medical treatments, and in certain situations even used as an alternative. The programme uses techniques drawn from Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga and Shamanism.

In the Patchwork Recovery Yoga pilot, a safe space was established for participants, who then began a journey in which their physical body was challenged vigorously through Yoga Kriya –  simple and inclusive, but challenging movements and breath work designed to build resilience through the nervous system.

The programme also included a mindful practice, where participants developed awareness of the body and breath. Another key, practice was that of mindful enquiry, where the participants’ awareness is guided toward the link between thoughts, emotions and bodily sensations – this is an unusual practice that is observed in silence by the rest of the group as the sharing participant opens up a dialogue with the instructor, who merely responds by asking questions in order to allow the participant themselves to move closer to an understanding of the link between thought, emotion and body, thus becoming more intuitive. The participants received a booklet at the end of the programme containing details of an ongoing practice, and had indeed been meeting regularly to practice together until the lock down happened in March 2021.

Since the Patchwork pilot, there are a number of Recovery support groups throughout East Ayrshire who have expressed interest in being part of future programmes.

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