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Class Donation Bank

We have a Class Bank into which unused/cancelled classes can be donated instead of receiving a refund. This Class Bank enables people who are facing financial challenges to access classes and for us to offer programmes to specific community groups facing particular challenges such as domestic violence, mental health challenges, social isolation and particular physical health challenges. Many of our studio members choose to donate missed/cancelled classes to this bank instead of receiving a refund and we are very grateful for that - yoga rippling out into our community.

Community Health - Current Programmes

Fishwick & St Matthews - FAM Healthier Together

We are delighted to be delivering a 6month programme in the Fishwick & St Matthews wards of the city. We will be bringing community together, sharing cultures and celebrating cultural diversity through arts & crafts, movement and music making.

Over the 6 months we will be delivering 300 fully accessible sessions that meet the health and wellbeing needs of the community. We will be working with partners Sahara, Let's Grow Preston, Strive2Thrive and Preston Community Hub to amplify the effect of each of the strands of the programme.

Preston Women Well Together

The Preston City Council funded programmes Preston Well Together sees us working with local women to support them on their journey to better physical & mental wellbeing. In particular we are making exercise accessible to those for whom mainstream classes are not accessible. We are providing free to access gentle exercise classes that are fully accessible with regards to mobility, hearing, sight, language and needs for modesty. We will be helping women to move more, express their creativity, learn tp relax and to process thoughts and emotions, to understand how to care for their mental and physical health while also providing opportunities for socialising.

The programme includes gentle exercise, gentle accessible dance, crafting and drumming.

Sessions take place at Plungington Community Centre.

Yoga

We are delivering funded programmes at Foxton Community Centre for Avenham residents on Saturdays at 1pm and Chair Yoga at Savick and Ingol libraries - please visit their websites for more information.

MS Society: Wednesdays 11:30am at Mandala

We offer a subsidised Yoga & Ballet Barre programme in partnership with the MS Society. This co-produced programme sees us use ballet barres, chairs and lots of props to support the exploration of balance, flexibility and strength, moving at individual paces and ranges of movement.

The participants have fedback that they have increased confidence when moving around, they enjoy been able to explore standing movements with the support of the barres and that they enjoy feeling graceful. They've also reported experiencing improved balance and reduced aches and pains. Some of the participants have also gained the confidence to explore specific physiotherapy which they previously would not have done.

Groove - Young at Heart: Mondays 10am at Plungington Community Centre

In partnership with Plungington Community Centre, this weekly upbeat class is a real mood booster suitable for all ages and physicalities. We have young adults and our oldest Groover is 99 and lives with dementia. Some Groove in chairs and others Groove around the room, but we are all Grooving together.

This fun exercise class has all ages dancing to music from the 60s to today. It's kind to the joints and can be enjoyed by all ages in a chair or standing, or switching between the two. It's a great fun way to improve all round fitness at a pace that's right for you and will leave you feeling joyful and uplifted. Feedback has been that "It's a life saver" that "It's the bright spot in every week and has utterly transformed my life and the lives of those I live with" and that "My fitness has improved so much, my balance is better, I can do the whole class standing now where I used to have to sit for the whole class."

AHRC Programme

As part of our partnership work as a founding member of Phoenix Rising Social Prescribing programme we were invited to work with Lancaster University on an Arts Health Research Council (AHRC) project to explore the benefits and challenges of delivering community-based health support for a wide range of participants. The research programme runs from April - December 2022.

We will be working with Lancaster University and a wide range of partners to explore how community-based organisations delivering social prescribing initiatives can expand and grow within integrated care systems.

The project will draw upon a growing network of community partners delivering social prescribing in the north-west of England.

More details here

Past Programmes

Our most recent funded programme from March 2021 - March 2022 was Phoenix Rising, a partnership programme across Movement, Visual Arts and Nature. Mandala offered free to access Yoga and Groove classes as part of the project which aimed to provide evidence of Social Prescribing best practice.

Link Workers, Support Workers, GPs and mental health professionals referred those they were working with to these courses.

We are embedded in our community and we are proud to play a part in supporting the wellbeing of our community. We have Enhaced DBS checked teachers one of whom is person-centred and trauma aware and also works as a therapist and we have a robust safeguarding policy.

Our community health programme includes working with vulnerable young people with health conditions and special educational needs at Preston college and Child Action Northwest; working with Deafway's clients, working in schools and nurseries, HMP staff, NHS staff and working with the NHS Lancashire Recovery College service users with long-term health conditions and anxiety. Working with these community groups we are aware of the particular needs of those with long term mental and physical health challenges. 

Our community is fabulously diverse and vibrant, representative of the wonderful international population of our city and county. We are aware of and sensitive to the inequality of access to internet services amongst our Asian and Black community and for that reason we are particularly passionate about ensuring in-person classes wherever possible and looking forward we are looking at how we can support improved access to online and in-person services.  

The online wellbeing programme we developed and delivered to support the Preston community during the pandemic lockdown resulted in 550 people accessing our wellbeing classes, 66% of whom had never accessed wellbeing services before and the outcomes included improved mood, connections and motivation and reduced sense of isolation and anxiety. 

We received Lottery funding to deliver free 4 week Yoga for Anxiety courses to community groups and CCGs and we are part of the Phoenix Rising Wellbeing programme delivering Social Prescribing in 2021 and 2022. Through this programme we are providing funded places for Yoga for Anxiety and Groove classes for those with mental health challenges.

The Yoga for Anxiety course has consistently delivered positive outcomes with reported reductions in anxiety, improved ability to manage anxiety and reduction in the negative impacts of anxiety on daily life. The NHS Recovery College summarising the outcomes as "Yoga for Anxiety works" 

Studio Director Emma is an advocate of yoga and relaxation therapies for mental health and for chronic pain and spends time with those commissioning services to ensure that any programme is developed in a way that meets the specific needs of the clients. Emma delivers Yoga and Meditation for the NHS Pain Peer Group programmes.

Emma also works with They Eat Culture and The Living City on developing arts for health programmes.

If you would like to discuss how yoga, meditation, music, dance, arts and relaxation programmes might support your community or organisation wellbeing aims please do get in touch emmabebliss@outlook.com 

Covid-19 Community Programme

During the national lockdown we delivered a free online wellbeing programme for the Preston community.

550 people participated, 66% of whom had never or rarely participated in any wellbeing activities previously. 100% of participants said it improved their mood, 95% said they felt more connected, 89% said they felt more motivated and 88% said they were much more likely to undertake wellbeing activities in the future. 

The classes were community inclusive from chair yoga and bedtime relaxation to high energy disco ballet and strength yoga - and everything in-between. Funded by the Lancashire Resilience Fund through They Eat Culture 

We are a community wellbeing hub that aims to support the physical and mental wellbeing of Preston people, especially those with anxiety, depression, physical health challenges and low incomes.

We have a diverse board of 4 directors who oversee the community purpose and finances and the board are representative of our community.

Our Objectives

Our objectives are to reduce anxiety, depression, social isolation, obesity and blood pressure and improve confidence, physical fitness, creativity and a sense of positivity and community belonging.

What we offer

We offer physical activity (yoga, dance, ballet fitness, pilates), mental health support (counselling, sound therapy, relaxation and meditation therapy and anxiety courses), addiction support as well as providing space for community group meetings (for example Friends of the Earth, Gambling Harms Alliance) and for making friendships.

We also offer communal meals at long tables to enable communities to come together and to reduce loneliness and social isolation. We aim to make more use of food events to improve community cohesion and understanding, reduce social isolation and create pride in place and a sense of belonging.

Who we work with

We work with other organisations to improve recovery. We aim to continue to build on our work with housing associations, GPs, physiotherapists, pain clinics, gambling support groups, NHS recovery services, homeless support and domestic violence charities as well as the city and county council to ensure we are delivering the types of services that are needed and that those in need can access us.

Our Directors

Mandala Preston Yoga is led by a team of Directors with a strong local understanding who are passionate about improving the physical and mental wellbeing of our community. 

Emma Lowther-Wright: Director, Yoga & Meditation Teacher and Sound Therapist

Emma is Director and Manager of Mandala Preston. She has lived in Preston city centre for over 20 years. She is a qualified yoga teacher focused on empowerment, rhythm and joy and specialising in the science of yoga, the mind-body connection (especially with regards to physical pain and anxiety) and the role of yoga and sound therapy in improving mental and physical wellbeing and community cohesion.

Her work on reducing anxiety and its impact on life opportunities and physical health includes the successful delivery of workplace wellbeing courses teaching not only how to deal with anxiety but how to create a workplace which creates less anxiety. Her 4 week public yoga for anxiety course is demonstrably successful at reducing the impact of anxiety, enabling participants to take opportunities and make positive life changes.

She was trained to teach yoga by John Scott and continues to study with Scott Johnson and Lucy Crawford-Scott and has studied and teaches Groove, Barre and Balletfitness. She has extensive experience of working with students with anxiety, deafness and cognitive challenges as well as those who are living with trauma.

Emma is a British Academy of Sound Therapist (BAST) qualified sound therapist having achieved a Distinction in the challenging Practitioner level Sound Therapy qualification. She works with groups and one to one. 

Karen Chapman, Director, 

Joanne Afrin-Black, Director

Joanne has lived in Preston city centre most of her life. She started to attend classes at Mandala Yoga in 2017 and credits the community ethos, spirit and teaching with significantly improving her physical and mental wellbeing. She described Mandala Preston as 'life-changing'.

Joanne also has decades experience of promotion and has strong local knowledge....

What Our Community Say

Feedback From our Funded Programmes

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