Every Wednesday morning between 10 and 11am, many Hollingdean residents participate in a community yoga class at Hollingdean Community Centre.
The Hollingdean Yoga Group has been running for over 10 years, with a team of volunteers organising the weekly sessions. The initial idea was to set up a low-cost, inclusive yoga class for people with very small incomes, many of whom would drop their children off at school and wanted an hour to themselves afterwards to do some exercise. The group received a few small grants when it first started, but now relies on subs from participants to fund the cost of hiring the hall and paying the teacher.
The yoga teacher, Kizzy, teaches a Scaravelli-inspired form of yoga which is suitable for all levels and makes it accessible to anyone. As committee member Mary says “it’s always been like that” to appeal to as many local people as possible – “We’ve had local residents, students and OAPS joining in. The first lesson is free, so people should come along and try it. After that, lessons are on a drop-in basis so there’s no commitment”
“What’s different from other yoga lessons is that this is a community class”, says Enza, treasurer of the group. “It only costs £6 per session, or £4.50 if you’re not working. It’s a shame more people don’t come as it’s really cheap.”
Julia, a participant, lives just around the corner. She used to do a lot of yoga but says “after getting a bit out of shape, I was looking for a way to start yoga again. This class was exactly what I needed, it’s very gentle.” As well as that she highlights some of the other benefits of the class “The people are nice, and it’s local – much easier to come here than drive all the way into town”
Another participant, Charlotte, spoke about how the class has helped her cope with a long-term health condition. “I became ill with Chronic Fatigue and related conditions which meant my life became reduced. I wasn’t able to go the the yoga classes I’d attended before, and I started coming to this class about 2 years ago. For me personally it’s been a godsend – so nice and gentle, and even if I can only manage 3 or 4 postures per class I can still feel the benefits. It’s really important – nowadays we’re always striving to look a particular way, but this yoga class teaches you to get inside your body and be in touch with yourself. It’s accessible for people who might have different health conditions”
And as the group put it themselves on their facebook page: “The Hollingdean Yoga Group provides a valuable social focus in the lives of residents in the local neighbourhood. Many who are excluded from opportunities to participate in mainstream activities due to health, age, accessibility, transport and socio-economic background. Regular participants feel that classes are part of their life and integral in maintaining their physical and mental wellbeing. The weekly visit to Hollingdean Community Centre, also provides an opportunity to find out what is going on and meet people.”
TDC’s Community Development Worker Ceza, who is based at the community centre) helped the group apply for recent funding which went towards a set of bolsters to help with the postures – this came from the Healthy Neighbourhood Fund via the Hollingdean Development Trust. He also set up a facebook page to promote the group and offered support during a recent time of transition. At the moment his contribution lies in trying to help them find new members and reinvigorate the group that current members have been working so hard to build over the years. He says “It’s really not just a yoga class, it’s a community group”. Ceza is offering similar support to other local groups, such as the Holly Hips fitness group.
The group takes place at Hollingdean Community Centre, 10-11am every Wednesday. For more information, look up the Hollingdean Yoga Group on facebook.