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Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS is an independent voluntary organisation and was established in 2001 for the purpose of organising specialist remedial yoga lessons for people with ME or CFS in Sheffield. It became a registered charity in 2006.

All the committee members have ME and experience of yoga themselves except for the treasurer who is an experienced accountant. These people who help have diverse backgrounds, including health and disability, and work together to run the organisation. The trustees are elected each year by the membership. There are close links and mutual support with the Sheffield ME Support Group.

It had been clear for several years that there was a demand for yoga classes; for example, members of the Heeley ME Support Group had regularly requested yoga on their programme. Many people with ME have found yoga a tremendous help in managing the illness and coping with symptoms, although most people with ME are too ill to attend normal yoga classes. In remedial yoga, postures are adapted so they are appropriate for a particular group. In the case of ME, for example, many postures which would normally be done standing (such as "The Tree"), are carried out while lying down.

It had proved difficult to find a teacher willing and able to take a specialist class for people with ME or CFS in Sheffield until Autumn 2000 when contact was made with Linda Sole, now Linda Su Arnold, an experienced remedial yoga teacher who trained at the Yoga for Health Foundation. A trial session with Linda, run by the Heeley ME Group, was such a success that it was agreed to organise classes on a more permanent basis.

Classes began regularly every two or three weeks from April 2001 once a committee had been formed and funds had been raised to cover the costs of the venue and the teacher. In March 2002 an  evaluation  was performed which indicated that the classes were very successful indeed, with members reporting benefits to health and the ability to relax more deeply. November 2002 saw a move to a different venue in the South of Sheffield, more appropriate for the winter months and with disabled facilities.

A grant by the Community Fund (National Lottery) was awarded from January 2003 enabling the classes to go weekly and provision of free transport. The teacher was only available fortnightly so a pool of yoga teachers was created to ensure continuity of classes. All the additional teachers have some training in and experience of therapeutic yoga.

The group continued to grow. Annual monitoring surveys since 2003 show that the classes have been very successful indeed. You can read the monitoring surveys by visiting our  Information Page.

In the autumn of 2005 pilot  Iyengar yoga sessions adapted for those with ME/CFS were held in the North of Sheffield and were very well received. Iyengar sessions are now being held regularly. Not only do these extra classes fulfill the need for some classes being held in the north of the city, as some people are too ill to travel to the weekly classes in the south, but they offer a different style of yoga.

The classes are publicised in a number of ways. Enquirers are added to the mailing list and sent written information about the yoga classes. By September 2010 there were over 250 people on the mailing list, with 10 - 24 people attending each session. Bulletins are sent out regularly every two to three months to all those on the mailing list. As well as giving dates for the yoga sessions they include some new yoga information. Telephone feedback indicates that some people who are too ill to attend the classes at present appreciate this positive contact with the group and feel that coming to the yoga classes is a goal for when they are well enough.

We wish to thank The South Sheffield Community Chest, Sheffield Recreation Department, The Freshgate Trust Foundation, The Sheffield Town Trust, Awards for All, The South Yorkshire Community Foundation, South Yorkshire Community Foundation Comic Relief, South Yorkshire Community Foundation Sports Relief, The Sheffield West Primary Care Trust, Sheffield Partnership for Health, The Talbot Trusts, Sheffield City Council, The Brelms Trust , Sheffield City Council Small Grants Fund, J G Graves Charitable Trust, James Neill Trust, Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust, Tapton School, The Sheffield Folk Chorale and the Community Fund (Big Lottery Fund) for their support during the past few years.

Thanks also to Voluntary Action Sheffield and South Yorkshire Funding Advice Bureau.

Sheffield Yoga for ME/CFS
June 2011

Funded by the The Talbot Trusts, South Yorkshire Community Foundation Comic Relief, People's Health Trust, Sheffield Church Burgesses Trust, Freshgate Trust Foundation, The Brelms Trust, J G Graves Charitable Trust, Sheffield Town Trust, Gay and Peter Hartley's Hillards Charitable Trust and National Lottery Community Fund Awards for All.

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Registered Charity No. 1117464