Halifax Yoga classes at St Judes Church & Dean Clough

Wrapping up ‘Real Yoga, Real Stories'

Wrapping up ‘Real Yoga, Real Stories’

Last month, I shared the last of this series of Real Yoga, Real Stories. In this blog post, I’ll be looking back at the campaign and sharing some of my key learnings.

What is Real Yoga, Real Stories?

Real Yoga, Real Stories was the second phase of my Keeping it Real campaign. Some of you may remember that I initially launched Keeping it Real last year to bust the myths some people have about yoga and show that yoga really is for everybody and every type of body.

Real Yoga, Real Stories was all about taking this a step further by showing real members of our community giving yoga a go. I also wanted to:

  • Disrupt how we perceive mental health. I wanted to show how yoga techniques can disrupt our patterns and stories to positively influence mental health, self-care and wellbeing
  • Create a ripple effect of our campaign message within the community. I wanted to capture the authentic experience of our campaign participants, and for those real-life experiences to create ripples in their circles. This would get the ‘real yoga for real people’ message farther and wider within our community

To kick off this phase of the campaign, I reached out to people from across Calderdale to see they’d be open to trying a class with me. Some were total beginners. Some had tried yoga before but had never been to a session with me. One participant was a regular student with a unique story to tell.

I really wanted to recruit a range of different people and get their honest reflections on their yoga experience. I was so happy when six fantastic people stepped forward and agreed to be involved. If you’d like a taster of what Real Yoga, Real Stories is about you can watch this short intro video.

What stories did we share?

Laura’s story

We kicked off the campaign with the lovely Laura from Happy Days. What stood out to me the most about Laura’s story was how yoga helped Laura to relax after a hard day at work and give her some precious ‘me time’. 

Hear my reflections on Laura’s story

Watch Laura’s story

Danny’s story

Next up was the delightful Danny from Invictus Wellbeing. Danny found that yoga helped him to quieten his mind, something so many of us struggle with. He also described his yoga experience as ‘life-changing’.

Hear my reflections on Danny’s story

Watch Danny’s story

Rachel’s story

The radiant Rachel from the Community Foundation for Calderdale (CFFC) first joined one of my yoga sessions after CFFC kindly provided funding for my Love Your Body course. Rachel finds yoga a great tool for boosting her energy levels ready for the week ahead.

Hear my reflections on Rachel’s story

Watch Rachel’s story

Julie’s story

Joyous Julie uses yoga to help manage her ME. She enjoys a mixture of face-to face yoga classes and my on-demand videos and loves that she can adapt yoga to meet her needs depending on how she’s feeling that day.

Hear my reflections on Julie’s story

Watch Julie’s story

Tash’s story

Terrific Tash touched on so many important aspects of yoga from physical health benefits to emotional and mental wellbeing. I particularly loved their comments about our yoga community being so warm and welcoming.

Hear my reflections on Tash’s story

Watch Tash’s story

Jackie’s story

We brought the campaign to a close with the jubilant Jackie from Calderdale Pride. Jackie found that she felt safe, accepted and able to be completely herself at yoga. She also had a great night’s sleep after the session.

Hear my reflections on Jackie’s story

Watch Jackie’s story

What did I learn?

I was absolutely blown away by the openness and honesty of everyone who took part in Real Yoga, Real Stories. They all approached their sessions with me with an open mind (even if they secretly felt a little dubious or nervous about the process!) and were able to welcome in the many benefits that yoga brings.

These six stories really bring home to me that yoga has a little something for everyone. While there’s lots of crossover between the stories shared, there are also benefits or experiences that are unique to that individual. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, an energy boost, physical benefits or a safe space, yoga has so much to offer to each and every one of us.

I’m sure these stories will resonate with so many of you and hopefully encourage more people in our community to experience yoga and its benefits. If you’d like to give yoga a go my door is always open. You can book onto a class or take a look at my online video library for an at-home practice.

What’s next?

It’s really important to me that I’m always learning and evolving. This campaign has already prompted me to make changes in my business. After talking to my Real Yoga, Real Stories participants about the questions and concerns they had before the session, I’ve added an FAQs section to my website. This includes everything from ‘what should I wear’ to ‘is yoga linked to religion’. If you can’t find an answer to your question there, you can always get in touch with me.

Another question that crops up regularly is whether yoga is just for women. Yoga is for everybody and the misconception that yoga is for women only is a myth that I’m so keen to bust! So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be starting to develop a yoga campaign that reaches out to men to show how yoga can benefit their health, fitness and wellbeing. I’ll keep you all up to date on this as it develops. But for now I’ll leave you with an excited ‘watch this space’!

A key objective of Real Yoga, Real Stories was to create that ripple effect of yoga benefits in the community. I’m absolutely delighted that I’m already starting to see those ripples moving outwards in new and exciting ways. Danny and Laura, for example, have both said that they intend to use some of the tools and techniques they learnt in my sessions with their clients. I’ve also had a number of different charities, groups and individuals in Calderdale reaching out to give yoga a try and the results have been absolutely fantastic. I can’t wait to share some of their stories with you in the coming months.

And finally…

I want to extend another big thank you to my Real Yoga, Real Stories participants. It’s been such an honour to meet such fantastic people, introduce them to yoga and hear more about their experiences. You’re all amazing.

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