Kind Hearts

> Links to Morning Stretch classes for Mental Health Awareness Week at the end of blog.

With everything going on in our lives at the moment, it’s been easy for special occasions to pass us by as days blur into weeks. Mental Health Awareness Week was an event that I knew was on the horizon but had very little time to prepare for. I wanted to mark the occasion though, and planned to do so through running a couple of live yoga classes via Zoom for Defra colleagues. I wanted to keep this pretty low key for fear of overpromising  what I could realistically achieve during the week, so didn’t do a lot of promotion for this.

One thing I’ve missed massively over the past 10 (yes, ten!) weeks that the boys have been home has been the opportunity to teach. Seeing so many other teachers transition to online classes hurt for a while. Knowing that I could do this, but simply didn’t have the time was a bitter pill to swallow, especially as I knew my students wanted to do yoga. Over time, I came to be thankful for what I could do, as I focused on my home practice.

I was able to offer small nuggets of time each week for up to 160 Defra colleagues. 10-minute sessions via Zoom made me feel so alive, and it reminded me how much I love to teach. Sharing my expertise, with others, and how much of a difference even a small amount of time could make to mine, and their days. I was nervous as I started, but having the backing of my Directors made all the difference in rebuilding my confidence. I saved the classes to my YouTube channel, and colleagues were hugely grateful for this.

The Defra classes really sewed a seed, and after a few aborted attempts at pre-recorded classes, I realised that the way forward was live online classes. So, on Sunday evening, I decided that I would offer 15-minute morning stretch classes on Facebook Live. Again, I was nervous for the 1st class, had very little time to prepare, but was totally committed to putting myself out there, throwing all of the energy I had into the bite-sized classes.

With the theme of Mental Health Awareness Week being kindness, I themed the 1st class around shared connections. How, even in a virtual space, we can feel that sense of connection. The opportunity to be kind to ourselves, inspiring others to do the same. Recognising that wherever we are in the world, we all feel, sense, experience the subtle movements of the breath, the space that this creates in the body and the opportunity to be calm. Physically, I invited my virtual students to interlock their fingers, imagining that they were holding hands in a virtual circle, harnessing the collective energy generated.

Kindness has a singular ability to unlock our shared humanity. Kindness strengthens relationships, develops community and deepens solidarity. It is a cornerstone of our individual and collective mental health. Wisdom from every culture across history recognises that kindness is something that all human beings need to experience and practise to be fully alive.

Mental Health Foundation

The class couldn’t have gone any better, and the positive feedback I received set me up for the week ahead. Morning stretches themed around self-care, neck and shoulder release, head-to-toe stretches, before concluding with a ‘Match of the Day’ highlights style class covering the best bits from the week’s classes has whet the appetite for what’s possible when you put your mind to it. Yes, I have very little time, but those small pockets make all the difference. Reminding me what an impact being kind can have on our lives.

I am pleased to announce that the morning stretch classes will continue every weekday morning, 8.30 – 8.45am. The classes will be beamed live and direct from my boys’ bedroom – between the cuddly toys and children’s books. I will continue with the classes as long as there’s interest. I’ve really welcomed the likes, shares, word-of-mouth recommendations to spread the message and encourage you to join me each day. All classes are saved on my YogaDad Facebook page, for you to use whenever you need.

MHAW photo