“Yogar” at the Community Orchard

Suppleness, Strength and pSychological well-being

Back in the summer, we ran a pilot scheme to provide free yoga, open to all. Dubbed “Yogar” (Yoga for gardeners); local resident and yoga instructor Amy Hughes lead the sessions, helping aching gardeners to stretch and strengthen all those muscles essential to keep them digging and sowing!

But these were no ordinary sessions… if you’ve ever had the opportunity to do yoga outside; surrounded by the beautiful English countryside then you’ll know how it truly transforms the experience.


Commencing on the morning of the Summer Soltice 21st June, with the community orchard as the backdrop, these sessions ran over 6 weeks, with all but one week enjoying dry and sunny sessions. The “Surya Namaskar” (sun worship) was obviously well received! Over the 6 weeks, Amy led our gardeners through a series of stretches and exercises designed to benefit the whole body, and mind; with a good measure of giggling too, as everyone found their balance, or lack of…

Alignment – Introduce some core yoga poses and good postural alignment – a basis from which to work in subsequent weeks.

Shoulders back – Focus on the alignment of the shoulders, often dragged off the back by garden lifting and digging – and rediscovering flexibility.

Foundations from the feet up – From the arches of the feet and stabilising the knee joints, to building quad strength; these poses are wonderful for heavy lifting, and especially useful for those with knee problems. But these poses are good maintenance for us all.

Hip openers – Squatting in those beds day in day out requires open hips, but can aggravate these essential joints. Focusing on opening the hips through gentle twists, lunges and seated hip openers.

Balancing the pelvis – Addressing the all-important balance of the pelvis helping to develop the good posture needed to prevent gardening injuries.

Spinal flexibility and abdominal strengthening for the spine – Focus on the correct alignment of the lumbar, thoracic and cervical spine, addressing lower back and sciatic pain pains common to gardeners.

The sessions were really well received and had a great turnout throughout the six sessions. Everybody that attended gave brilliant feedback, and would love to see more yoga, and community run activities like it! So much so that a Yurt was suggested so that all year round “outdoor” activities could be enjoyed – but we’ll have to wait for another year and grant for that…

We were able to run these sessions thanks to a Community Activity Grant scheme, offered by Gloucestershire Rural Community Council, via Bisley Environmental and Sustainability Trust (“BEST”). The grant allowed us to cover costs, therefore meaning we were able to offer the sessions for free, and make them economically accessible to all.

Special thanks goes to Lesley Greene for organising and making the scheme possible; and Amy Hughes, who with Lesley, conceived the idea whilst helping with a youth workshop (from Thomas Keble School) at the Community Compost Scheme last year.

Amy is a fully qualified yoga teacher who has been practising for sixteen years and teaching for nine. She offers regular community classes at the Open House in Stroud and private classes. Visit www.open-yoga.co.uk to find out more about Amy and her classes.

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