We worked closely with the uS charity to support a yoga retreat for young carers and young people with mental health difficulties.

Funding from Tyne and Wear Sport paid for the tutors, the venue, lunch and yoga mats for all the participants to take home.  Having the yoga mats will enable and encourage the young people to practice in their own homes.

The two-day yoga retreat took place at Newcastle University Sports Centre. Within the sports centre the yoga retreat had exclusive access to a spacious room with yoga mats, bricks and straps.

All the participants were selected on the basis that they are currently struggling with mental health difficulties or are surrounded by circumstances that put them at risk.

Five participants were young carers. They were introduced to uS and brought to the sessions by Barnardos.  These young people have little time for themselves to pursue sport and exercise activities and experience various levels of anxiety caused by their caring responsibilities. One participant was referred to the project by his GP and experiences anxiety. The Angelou Centre referred a young woman of 18 who was socially isolated and for the first time is living in supported housing.

We provided young people with the opportunity to:

  • have time for themselves

  • learn about yoga and how it can help you to get fit and learn how to relax

  • look at how they can embed yoga and relaxation techniques in their very busy and demanding lives

  • meet new people, socialise and have fun

  • experience the mental and physical benefits from participating in exercise

  • participate in an activity on a university campus and to relax in that environment.

Skilled tutors enabled them to enjoy the physical challenges of yoga alongside developing relaxation and meditative techniques.  They shared activities that the young people could practice at home.

One of the prominent themes emerging from the participant feedback was that the Yoga Retreat taught them that yoga could be an excellent way to relax and de-stress from everyday life. The retreat was also a great way to learn new yoga poses, which they can carry out at home without an instructor providing the participants with a method of progressing their yoga practices. The Yoga Retreat was also a way to make new friends, as they were able to make better connections over the two days.

The uS charity are continuing to fund yoga activities and encourage young people to access mainstream provision, whilst developing home-based yoga practice.