Ahead of the International Day of Yoga on 21st June, University of Bedfordshire’s Get Active team are celebrating a 94% uptake of their online yoga offering since lockdown began.
A social sport programme launched in 2017 for the physical and mental health benefits of students and staff, Get Active has continued to provide a virtual fitness platform for the University’s community for free whilst campuses – and gyms – have been closed.
Taking place throughout the week via Zoom, the schedule has also included Pilates, Barre Fitness, Zumba and Aerobics. Yoga has remained one of the more popular exercise classes which has seen 395 participants complete a total of 36.5 hours of yoga between the end of March and the International Day of Yoga.
Head of Sport Partnerships, Stephen Pitt, said: “We were extremely pleased to be able to offer our fitness schedule for free when the University moved to remote working. It’s been important to continue supporting the staff and student community in their physical and mental wellbeing during this time.
“The uptake and popularity of the virtual Get Active programme has been incredible, especially yoga which now has classes four times a week. We look forward to continuing the development of the programme as we approach the new academic year.”
Yoga – a combination of physical, mental and spiritual disciplines – is a great way of reconnecting with the body and refocusing the mind. People have found practising yoga particularly beneficial during times of uncertainty and unbalance which many have experienced during the Covid19 pandemic.
Maria McArdle, Senior Lecturer in Primary Mathematics at the School of Teacher Education, signed up to the Get Active scheme just before remote teaching began. When lockdown was implemented, Maria’s son and his family moved into her home so that they could all shield together. Whilst her house is buzzing with people, Maria said she has found solace in the evening yoga classes:
When Get Active launched online, it gave me access to a great range of new activities, one of which was yoga. The classes have been a good way for me to end the working day and begin to unwind for the evening. It gives me a bit of ‘me time’ away from the family and allows me to briefly chat and catch-up with colleagues in a social setting. I’ve also found that I’m able to sleep better after yoga. I hope that as we move forward into the ‘new normal’, the University continues to offer these online sessions – yoga is certainly something that I will continue with.
Brendan Murphy who runs Shanti Warrior Yoga and leads the yoga classes for Get Active, said:
“One of the great things about yoga is that you can do it without having lots of fancy gear. Having a mat helps - but it’s not essential. You can just use a blanket and some cushions, or even just the floor. If you’re very lucky, you might even be able to do it in a garden with no equipment at all!
“This has meant that people who may never have tried yoga before have been coming to my classes online. Yoga is a great complement to doing cardio work, especially in terms of preventing injury. I think a lot more people who – prior to lockdown – may not have considered yoga to be ‘for them’, will carry on with yoga after lockdown alongside their gym work.”
As part of the International Day of Yoga, Luton Borough Council has facilitated a variety of community yoga classes, suitable for all abilities, available for people to join throughout the day on 21st June. To view and book a free class, visit: www.bedford.gov.uk/leisure-and-culture/sports-and-physical-activity/yoga-in-your-home/
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