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Results of Survey by Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS
Autumn 2005

As in previous years, Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS has carried out a formal monitoring exercise. This is in addition to the ongoing verbal feedback we get from our members. The purpose of this exercise is to ensure that our priority aims are:

  • Providing a service that meets our members' needs.
  • Identifying improvements to the service.
  • Checking that the group is achieving the outcomes hoped for.
  • A short written survey was carried out during September amongst members who had attended the yoga classes three times or more. We focused on outcomes that have been previously identified and used this knowledge to construct six simple questions. Sixteen survey forms were returned and analysed as follows.

  a great deal slightly not at all not applicable
1. Social benefit 14 2    
2. Manage illness better 13 3    
3. Improvement in symptoms 6 8 2  
4. Increased physical
and mental activity
5 10 1  
5. Usefulness of bulletins 11 5    
6. Usefulness of website 4 3   9



Full text of questions:

  1. Do you find the social aspects of the yoga group helpful?

  2. Do you think the yoga helps you to manage your illness better-e.g. by helping to get the right balance between rest and activity?

  3. Do you think the yoga has led to any improvements in your symptoms?

  4. Has yoga helped you to do more physical or mental activity, without worsening your symptoms?

  5. Do you find the bulletins useful?

  6. If you have looked at the website, was this useful?



Comments made by respondents on survey forms

In the space left on the form, the members were invited to make comments and nine people responded in a positive manner. There were no negative responses. This illustrates how the classes are appreciated in their existence. To quote a few examples:

  • "Yoga has helped my energy levels by maintaining a rest/activity balance, so I have incorporated it into my daily routine."


  • "Wonderful to have something so frequent for M.E. sufferers and so carefully geared to own needs."


  • "It is the one time in the week that I seem to fully relax and feel more positive about my current situation. Also having a variety of instructors adds another dimension to the yoga."


  • "Yoga, combined with meditation and relaxation, are key components for me of managing my illness and I think are also keys to recovery."




Feedback from non-attenders

As one of the aims of our project is to provide a goal for those who are currently too ill to attend, we also carried out a very brief separate survey of non-attenders. Nine people returned this form, the majority of which felt that the yoga classes were a goal to aim for when they felt a little better. Some of their comments included:

  • "I can use the website for ideas."


  • "I do read the bulletins and would still like to receive them."


  • "I do intend to attend classes in the future, I have been too ill to do so recently."



Conclusion

Again, the findings of these surveys have been very positive. The social interaction for those attenders has proved to be invaluable as most have been chronically ill for years and have therefore, begun to feel socially isolated. The yoga has created a social environment which is easily accessible due to the provision of taxis. Some members have been too ill to drive or use public transport, so the importance of taxis cannot be stressed enough. This also provides a greater incentive for non-attenders, who use the yoga as a goal for when they eventually feel a little better, in the knowledge that they can easily reach the venues. Due to the popularity of the yoga we are now offering additional styles of remedial yoga in a different venue, thus further improving accessibility from all areas of Sheffield.

A great majority of those surveyed felt that the classes helped them to manage their illness better and most agreed that it led to a slight improvement in their symptoms and management of physical and mental activities. As this service is not available elsewhere in Sheffield the importance of the classes for people with M.E. cannot be stressed enough. We have carefully organized them to best meet the needs of people with such a debilitating illness. The classes are taught by specialist remedial yoga teachers who, in their adaptation, gear the teaching towards lying postures and breathing and relaxation. The people who initially set up the classes and those who now run them mostly have M.E. but we also have several well volunteers who do an invaluable job. The premises for the venues are quiet and warm and have parking next to the buildings as well as disabled accesses. As another profound consequence of the illness is loss of earnings, an optional minimal fee is charged and the taxis are provided out of funds.

We provide regular bulletins and information on our website for all members, including non-attenders, and the bulletins are proven to be invaluable by a majority of members in both surveys. This is obviously due to the ease with which the bulletins are accessed as they are received through the post.

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