Report into a Yoga for Long Covid Project

a report into yoga for long covid

“I really appreciate your gentle sessions. They are perfect for where I am at the moment and I hope the breathwork especially will help with restoring balance and movement.”

We are grateful to Sussex Community for Funding these Classes.

Project Summary and Background
The project took place between November 2022 and February 2023 and was designed to meet the needs of people in Sussex facing the effects of long-covid through delivery of mindful movement classes. These practices support participants to become aware of and access the parasympathetic nervous system which aids rest, relaxation and healing of the body and mind. We also wanted to embed mindful
movement and breath practices beyond the 10-week programme so that participants will have tools to help manage their own conditions. We worked in partnership with Mindful Warriors, a local not for profit organisation with considerable experience in delivering community mindful
movement programmes and NHS partners.

Referrals were made from NHS partners including the Post Covid Care and
Assessment Service from the Sussex Community Foundation Trust.

22 participants signed up to the course. All participants reported fatigue as a major
symptom of their condition. Other symptoms included brain fog, muscle aches,anxiety, and breathlessness. All said that they had difficulties with a range of day-to-day activities which included exercising, walking, playing with children, working and socialising.
66% of respondents had had symptoms from between 1-5 years
34% had had symptoms for 3 months – 1 year.

The Classes
The classes were 1.5 hours long and delivered online as students were too fatigued to make classes in person. They took place in three blocks of five. They included breathwork, meditation and gentle stretches.

100% of respondents said that the sessions had supported their wellbeing and helped them to manage their Long COVID symptoms.
100% said they would or would like to carry on a practice after the course had finished (although some felt that the weekly routine of the sessions would be missed).
100% of people reported positive feelings as a result of the sessions (see table below).

Benefits for participants 
Some participants said that the sessions had helped them to develop a home practice, making it a regular part of their routine. This was one of the key objectives for the project.

“Been practising my balancing postures and stretching much more, which feels really  good! I’ve been feeling so awful that I can’t bring myself to do these practices on my  own. However, having these sessions was like an anchor for me, it meant that I had  someone to guide and teach me rather than having to rely on myself. This then  helped me build my own practice.” 

“I have started to do yoga on a daily basis. Sometimes quite short, other times  longer, but every day.” 

The quality of teaching was an important part of the experience for the majority of  the participants with many of them praising her calm and encouraging presence. 

‘Durgha was such a wonderful teacher and I will definitely be doing these sessions  again in the new year (I was very pleased to hear they would continue)- she has  such a welcoming and calming energy which contributed to making me feel peaceful  during the sessions.’ 

“I feel a big thanks is owed to Durgha for feeling her way sensitively with this class of  unknowns. I think we were all shocked at the beginning to find out how strenuous we  found even very gentle stretches. Durgha responded to this by making sure we had  options which started at a very undemanding level, and making clear that we should  feel no pressure to push ourselves.”“Durgha was a great facilitator encouraging participation whatever our ability. It  helped cement that mind, body and soul are so interlinked. The peaceful result at the end of each session was priceless.” 

“Just a big thank you to Durgha for such a brilliant and helpful course- really looking  forward to the next ones.” 

The classes helped students manage their anxiety and their ability to manage levels of stress. 

‘More relaxed, less anxious; much of my symptoms of late have been around pain  and it’s helped to be able to stretch.’ 

‘Managing my stress and activity level as well as keep my nervous system calm’ 

Participants appreciated the chance to challenge themselves without overdoing it and it enabled them to understand what their body was capable of. They appreciated the time and space to devote to their well-being and liked the focus of a weekly session. 

“Calming session but just the right amount of challenge in movement. Tired  afterwards but in a positive way.” 

Time out to focus on movement and breath work.” 

“Gives me a set time and day to put myself and needs ahead of others.” 

“I really like these sessions and hope to continue. For where I am at in my stage of  my recovery they are just at the limit of what I can do, but not beyond me. I think this  is a good level for me to be pushing my boundaries and I find them mentally relaxing  as well as physically exercising!” 

“Realising that small actions/movements can have a profound impact. Particularly  combining controlled breathing and movement.” 

The ability to come together and be in a community was also important to many of the participants whose experiences had left them feeling isolated. The sessions were an important and enjoyable part of the week and gave people something to look forward to. 

“The classes made me feel less alone with Long Covid, and gave me support and  structure for starting to exercise gently again. I’d lost heart previously after trying on  my own and finding I could do nothing I’d have regarded as ‘exercise’ pre-Covid.” 

“Sharing experience with others, more confidence in physicality, relaxation.” 

“The classes are the highlight of my weekend, I come out of them feeling cared for  and understood and above all else relaxed.” 

“I found these sessions to be enjoyable, relaxing and a boost to my confidence.”

“A truly wonderful experience. It has improved my quality of life. Since Covid I have  lost my work, been really unwell, become isolated & despairing at times. I have really  valued this course and the connections I have made. Cannot praise the course or  thank our teacher Durgha enough.”