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This month our Westlab Hero is the wonderful Brighton Yoga Foundation, a charity dedicated to introducing yoga to those who would benefit from it the most, outside of the existing yoga community. We chatted to Camille who is a trustee of the Foundation.
Could you tell us a bit more about the charity?
The Brighton Yoga Foundation charity was set up in 2016. The small team of organisers wanted to share the benefits of yoga to the people who may not have access to, or be able to afford, yoga classes. We now have an extensive outreach programme alongside the festival which is held each July. This programme includes taking yoga to schoolchildren, teenagers, women overcoming domestic abuse, and working inside Lewes prison.
What makes you so passionate about the benefits of yoga?
Since I started practising yoga, my mental health has improved, and being able to now share this benefit with others is so valuable. Especially those who have never thought about yoga for themselves – they couldn’t afford it, or thought they couldn’t do it.
Why do you think this work is so important to communities?
Yoga is still perceived as middle class, but we are breaking down these barriers and allowing people who had never thought they could ‘do’ yoga. This might be the pre-conceived idea that they are not flexible or they haven’t got the right body for yoga. We are educating people that anyone can have a yoga practice regardless of age, ability or background.
I think that we have one life, and some people are fortunate and choose a specific path. Others have no option but to experience trauma and/or unfortunate circumstances. For me I found yoga purely by accident, and I am very grateful for the accident. I was one of those who wasn't flexible, had super tight hips and, even after all these years, I still cannot sit on the floor cross-legged. But I have found my own way and I truly want to be able to share these benefits to those who like me, never thought they could enjoy or establish as practice.
What inspires you?
Receiving such amazing feedback, like this from a lady from our therapeutic yoga classes which are designed for women who are overcoming trauma or domestic abuse: 'You are amazing. Yoga has truly been a lifesaver for me.'
If you could share one piece of advice what would it be?
Keep trying and never give up. Sometimes life can throw you a curve ball, but keep trying and changing what you do and things will always work out well in the end.
What is the dream for the future of the Foundation?
I would love to have a team of people who manage the foundation full time. At present we all give our time for free. But having an office, where people work full time to drive the charity further would mean we'd be able to help even more people. I’d love for us to eventually create our own space that we could use full time.
See the wonderful things that the BYF are doing here:
Follow them @brightonyogafoundation