Yoga For M.E. – reflections & gratitudes

Excuse the facebook-post-style writing style of this blog post – that’s because it was a facebook post I decided to add to my blog. Read on if you’re interested in Yoga For M.E., the Yoga For M.E. class at Cornerstone Community Centre Hove on Monday afternoons, and the ramblings of a person with M.E. who has just started teaching yoga again after a break. Begone, if that doesn’t appeal to you! With love, Hannah-Rose xo

Really enjoyed teaching my 15th and final for this year Yoga For M.E. class. Wasn’t sure I was going to make it due to various health things, but it all worked out great, thanks to various things. Wohoo!

Next week Dec 16th, the class will be led by my co-teacher, Becky, and will be 2.00-3.00 at Cornerstone, as usual. (with optional festive cuppa / mince pie etc after).

Then there will be a break for festive winter things, and then we start back again on 6th January, with a new class time of 2.30-3.30.

The teacher will usually be either myself or Becky, and we will each be teaching roughly half of the classes next year.

Classes will be weekly except for bank holidays when Cornerstone closes, and will be 2.30-3.30.

Class costs just £5 (half the price of the average yoga class in a city these days) as it is part funded by the M.E. Society.

We are in the same room on the ground floor, and there is a lift to the toilets, and mats and some props available.

The class is for people with M.E., but may also be suitable for other folks with ‘similar’ conditions or who have various reasons for being very much in need of this particular yoga space. If you’re not sure if the class is for you (eg you don’t have M.E., or have a concern about class suitability/accessibility), you can contact me, Becky or Cathy (flier with contact deets coming soon) to inquire about it.

It’s been an amazing experience to start teaching yoga again this year, despite the continued M.E. symptoms and experience. In January this year I read a question prompt, “what would challenge/scare you this year (that would be of benefit to do)?” and I thought, “teaching yoga again would scare me!” – due to the health challenges and the challenges of being a professional on any kind of ‘yoga scene’, amongst other things.

During Jan and Feb I started to plot and research and brainstorm the yoga space that i would LOVE to hold, which would be fat positive, all bodies positive, suitable for some people with M.E. and suitable for some people with some other chronic health conditions, respectful, fun, heartwarming, and as devoid of bullshit as possible.

I kept brainstorming and researching and thinking about things – and then I heard about this class, and texted the teacher to say i was thinking of coming along as a participant with M.E., but also to say that i was coming along as research as i was thinking of setting up something similar at some point – just to be totally cards on the table and clear, and to also be clear that I wouldn’t do anything to clash or ‘steal people’ or in any way compete rather than support.

Attending that class – the first I’d attended in a long time as M.E. and a very low tolerance for ‘yoga scene bullshit’ had made it preferable for me to keep my practice just at home in solitude – gave me much food for thought, things that were good, things i thought should OBVIOUSLY be very different, and some little ideas about things…

I joined the mailing list, but don’t think I popped in again more than once as that particular teacher’s offering wasn’t exactly what i was looking for – or maybe i just still felt it was much better for me to do exactly as i needed at home.

After continuing to research, practice, write down ideas, talk to people who might be interested in the kind of class i was hoping to eventually set up (if practical energy&resources-wise), I eventually got a message from the class mailing list – and also forwarded from a friend (i think this was you, dear VP (name removed) – i really appreciated the prompt, thank you!) who didn’t know I was on the list, saying that the teacher was moving on from that class and that the organiser was looking for new teachers.

There then followed a lengthy process that has taken most of this year, of different teachers exploring leading the class, seeing how it works for them and seeing how the group responds to them, which for me included my first time back teaching yoga after a long break due to M.E.

Through the various ins and outs of that process, I’ve kept showing up to learn and teach, and 15 teaching-classes later, I’m a little bit back in the swing of teaching yoga, and me and lovely Becky are co-teaching the class (as in each taking roughly half the classes next year).

It’s still a massive effort to manage energy and symptoms around it, but one that I am finding that I CAN manage with care and inner-strength, I WANT to manage because i love doing this and believe in the positive impact it is having, and I LOVE to do because teaching this class feels like exactly the right thing for me to be doing at this moment, and well worth my spoons. It is rewarding, interesting and feels right. The community of people involved are friendly and caring. And it is very nice that there are also Becky’s classes that I can drop into as an attendee, for rest and reflection and learning and time-off being the teacher.

I am loving learning and growing, and offering something that brings people good / helpful / positive / interesting / nourishing / healing / respectful experiences (hopefully) . I’m enjoying learning from feedback and developing a skill I thought I had put down for good due to health. I’m really grateful for everything that’s happened in this process with this class, in the way that it has, and for the carefulness and caringness with which Cathy has orchestrated the whole process of sussing out who should be the new teacher(s).

Also very grateful for the wonderful RIJ (name removed) , whose conversations with me about yoga and life over the years of my complete break from teaching yoga, have been a healing and happy source of respite from the aspects of ‘yoga industry’ that are so incongruent and damaging, and made me happy to talk and think about yoga again without all the difficult associations of industry rubbish, scene rubbish, and painfulness of my body ‘failing’ and not letting me teach anymore, at least in the ways and frequency that i had been.

Also very grateful to darling CB (name removed) and darling RIJ (name removed) , who both came to my Very First Class Back this year to support me, and gave me helpful and/or encouraging feedback.

And massively – grateful to the regular attendees of this Yoga For M.E. class which has been running for I think approximately 20 years, for saying yes to having me as a co-teacher! And to brilliant Cathy, for doing all the hard work of organising the class (frankly the hardest and least rewarding aspect of any self employed Thing is the Organisey Admin faff, so having that all done by Cathy is bloody marvellous!)

Doing careful research, deep creativity, and all the things I do to prepare a class and develop a suitable format based on feedback and experience, has been a wonderful process, and whilst it requires spoons, it also informs my self care in positive ways; the research I continually do to help inform my teaching, also informs my practice.
And it is a pleasure to feel Of Service when classes give people a positive experience.
So, yeah. Happy Yoga Year To Me (sung to tune of happy birthday?! getting delirious – better go have a rest).

Here’s to many gentle, balanced, nurturing classes in 2020, held by me and Becky – I hope to see you there, if this is a class that’s suitable for you.

With love and breath and presence and kindness,
Hannah-Rose xoxo x

ps thanks for reading my rambly self reflective ramble whoever has done so xox