Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS runs remedial yoga classes for people with ME/CFS. This is a serious debilitating chronic illness and people are often ill and disabled 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.
The classes are carefully organised to meet the needs of people with this illness and provide important social, emotional and physical support for members of the group. The provision of yoga classes specifically for people with ME/CFS is not available elsewhere in Sheffield and ordinary yoga classes are unsuitable for most people with ME/CFS.
The yoga classes are taught by specialist remedial yoga teachers who, in their adaptation, gear their teaching towards gentle, often lying postures, breathing and relaxation. There are two styles of remedial yoga available; Hatha yoga and Iyengar yoga. The varied approaches, different venues and class times open the classes to a number of people with ME/CFS. The premises for the yoga are quiet and warm. There is parking next to the buildings and the venues have disabled access. The Iyengar yoga classes are held in a specialist yoga centre, where all necessary equipment is provided.
A profound consequence of the illness is loss of earnings, and in order to help those in financial need an optional minimal fee is charged.
Many people with ME/CFS are too ill to drive or use public transport and the provision of taxis makes the classes more accessible to a greater number of people. This is an important use of the group’s funding.
The group provides regular bulletins by post, information on the website (www.sheffieldyogaforme.org.uk) and resources such as yoga books/CDs/tapes which are available from a postal library. These resources are available to all those on the mailing list. Previous surveys have consistently shown that this aspect of our service is highly valued by the large majority of members.
Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS is a registered charity. (Registered Charity Number: 1117464)
The majority of trustees who organize the classes have ME/CFS but there are also several able-bodied volunteers who do an invaluable job.
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.
During October 2008, a short questionnaire was distributed to all on the group’s mailing list. This was different from previous years, when a questionnaire was distributed only to those people who had recently attended classes. Two hundred and fifty forms were distributed and ninety four were returned.
Questions were a result of outcomes that have been previously identified and also a reflection of verbal feedback during the previous year. They included questions about the yoga venues, timing and teachers. Feedback about the free transport provided by the group was also requested. Finally, respondents were asked about their yoga practice at home and the health benefits of this practice.
People were asked to say whether they usually attended yoga once or more a week, once or more a month, every few months, rarely or never. The results, presented in these five categories are presented as a table lower down the page.
It is impossible to include all the comments on the results forms but here are some which reflect the overall tone.
"Yoga for ME twice a week has become a 'life-saver' for my illness and made a huge difference to my life, which without it would be isolated and unsupported. The teachers are very sensitive to and understanding of ME and its limitations and make it possible for all of us to participate at our own level. It's wonderful to mix with fellow sufferers and share experiences and feel secure with like-minded people, who are coping with this misunderstood and severely debilitating illness. The atmosphere is caring and gentle and makes a huge difference to coping on one’s own. The free taxis help enormously and many just wouldn’t be able to attend without this help.
It's wonderful that funding has been available for this group and I truly hope it will be available in the future for this well-deserving cause."
"Couldn't do without practising yoga. It is now part of my life. Yoga helps me in several ways: my breathing, my flexibility and my energy."
"The offer of subsidised equipment has been of great benefit…….which makes practising at home so much easier."
"I always feel stronger and calmer after each class."
"Wonderful to have such an excellent range of teachers."
"Helps with switching off and so helps pacing which has helped me manage my ME/CFS."
"Yoga has changed my life."