Having only every participated in yoga once before, I wasn’t too sure what to expect as a volunteer on one of Sense’s accessible yoga sessions. The previous activities I’d volunteered on had been geared towards slightly younger participants, who had to travel to participate. I was interested to find out how yoga can be adapted for in-house and seated participants at an accommodation service.
Upon arrival, myself and fellow Sense Active volunteer Lara helped set up the chairs and made visits to some of the residents’ rooms to remind them that yoga will be starting shortly. When the time came to begin, we were greeted into a circle of chairs where the yoga would soon take place and assisted some of the individuals to their seats.
The atmosphere was peaceful with calming music in the background, which could have easily sent me to sleep. This was nothing at all like the rock climbing or cycling I had previously experienced, which were much more physical activities. As the participants entered the room you could tell they were very much looking forward to their yoga session.
The session encouraged a range of movements in the joints to maximise mobility, whilst being encouraged to try and keep a straight back (something I certainly didn’t realise beforehand that I wasn’t very good at).
The person running the session was very motivating and understanding, suggesting alternatives to make some of the moves easier or harder depending on the ability of the individual. As with all yoga classes, I expect that some people have a greater range of movement and some restrictions through past injuries.
We had the opportunity to talk to the residents before, after and during sessions. I learnt a lot about Birmingham as an area. I remember having an in depth conversation about the Black Country Museum at one session and talking about how the residents used to use a mangle to dry their clothes when they were younger. They found it amusing how I and another volunteer had to go away and Google what a mangle was.
Having attended a yoga session, I am certainly looking forward to volunteering again and meeting more of the people, gaining a greater understanding of how much they appreciate the sessions as not just an opportunity to be active but as a social occasion.
One of the largest differences that sets apart yoga from cycling and rock climbing is the fact it is a group activity with more communication between the individuals taking part. I would certainly recommend yoga for those who want to keep active but aren’t the most mobile, as you can do it anywhere – all you really need is a place to sit down and an arm’s length space either side of you and you’re well on your way!
To find out more about how you can volunteer for Sense Active, please email Callan Barber on firstname.lastname@example.org.