Each year Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS carries out a formal monitoring exercise. This complements the ongoing informal feedback we obtain from our members. The purpose of all this is to ensure that we are continuing to provide a service which meets the needs of our members, to identify where improvements can be made and to check that the group continues to achieve the outcomes we are hoping for.
A short written survey was carried out among members attending the yoga class during September who had been attending for at least three months. There were five simple questions focussing on outcomes we have previously identified. Sixteen completed survey forms were returned and analysed as follows.
A great deal
Not at all
|1. Manage illness better
|2. Improvements in Health
|3. Social benefit
|4. Brought return to work nearer
|5. Helped return to work/study
Full text of questions:
- Does the yoga help you to manage your illness better – e.g. by helping to get the right balance between activity and rest?
- Do you feel the yoga has led to any improvements in your health?
- Have you gained any social benefit from attending these classes?
- If you hope to return to work or education, do you feel the yoga classes have brought you nearer to this point?
- If you have already returned to work or education due to an improvement in health, do you feel the yoga helped with this?
Comments made by respondents on survey forms.
A space was left on the form for any other comments and eight people did write something here. All were positive about the classes and their comments illustrate how much people appreciate the existence of these classes. To quote just a few examples:
- "I enjoy taking part in a group that is therapeutic for CFS and does not involve moaning about the illness."
- "very valuable weekly sessions for benefiting physical and emotion (sic) well being."
- "Don't know what I'd do without it. It's often the only time I leave my home in the week. It's so good there is an activity for ME folk where we can lie down, rather than sit."
- "I feel that the Yoga for ME classes have definitely been of benefit in my ongoing recovery from ME."
The findings from this survey are very positive and once again confirm the value of the Yoga classes for people with ME or CFS in Sheffield. These are people with serious debilitating chronic illnesses and in some cases they have been ill for many years. The consequences of this are profound in terms of loss of income and social isolation. In many cases, very few activities, social or otherwise, are possible for people because of the severity of their illness.
Our Yoga classes provide an accessible activity which is enjoyed by many people and which also provides very welcome social contact. In addition these results show that the majority of those surveyed felt that the classes have helped them to manage their illness better and have led to some improvement in health. The importance of this is hard to overstate, since there are so few alternatives available which are either accessible or beneficial for people with ME.
Our classes have been very carefully organised to best meet the needs of people with ME. The classes were set up and are mostly run by people with ME – with the help of one or two very valuable well volunteers. Great care was taken to find suitable premises, which are warm and quiet with good disabled access and parking very near to the building. Help with transport is provided on request as we know this is a major obstacle for many people who are not able to walk far nor to use public transport, and who are living on low incomes. The classes themselves are taught by specialist remedial yoga teachers who have adapted the classes to be suitable for the needs of people with ME/ CFS, for example most of the poses are done in a lying position and there is an emphasis on breathing and relaxation.
Post Script – Feedback from Non attenders
Previous surveys have shown that even among those members who do not attend the classes, people appreciate that the classes exist, because they provide a goal to aim for when well enough. This survey did not include this group, but feedback from telephone calls to non attenders on our mailing list in summer 2004 found that 7 out of 14 we asked felt that the Yoga classes were a goal to aim for when they were well enough. Comments included the following:
- "Bulletin has been a lifeline."
- "I really appreciate everything. Really want to come to yoga but too ill to come."
Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS, November 2004