Sunderland yoga teacher ready to help with post-lockdown problems as restrictions are lifted on May 17

A yoga instructor is looking forward to helping people with their physical and mental wellbeing again after months away from classes.

Sunday, 16th May 2021, 7:00 am

The Government is relaxing the rules on indoor exercise classes from Monday, May 17 and Sunderland instructor Julie Cook feels that classes like hers can play an important role after a very trying time for everyone.

The sessions are run from the hall of St Nicholas’ Church, near the Barnes pub, each Tuesday from 5.45pm to 7.15pm. The return of the classes is a welcome step in the hoped-for return to normality, offering people the opportunity to look after themselves in a very social environment. New members are welcome too.

Covid precautions remain in place such as hand sanitising and yoga has always been done with participants spaced apart, long before social distancing had even been heard of. The classes are fully insured and open to anyone aged 16 or over, regardless of individual levels of fitness.

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Julie Cook, right and her yoga class are keen to start again after months away. Picture bu Stu Norton.

Julie first took up yoga around 25 years ago and has been an instructor for 15 years. She is passionate about it and can’t wait to return.

She said: “I haven’t done Zoom classes, it’s just not the same. It’ll be great to be back. We’ve all kept in touch through WhatsApp and everyone’s kept their spirits up and really eager to return. I’ve also had three new people wanting to join.”

The form of yoga that Julie is accredited in is Iyengar, which uses everyday objects such as chairs, belts, walls and blocks as props to help attain the benefits of yoga in each pose.

Class members have all different levels of fitness. Some just want to feel better, while others have aches, pains and other issues, perhaps due to sitting so much during the working day, and attend at the suggestion of their GP.

Yoga instructor Julie Cook can help with post-lockdown physical and mental health. Picture by Stu Norton.

There is also a social side to the classes and many friendships have been formed.

Julie added: “It’s about your overall wellbeing, your strength, your stamina. It can help your internal organs, your digestive system and protect your joints.

“It can also help with anxiety and your mental health, which is obviously very important. There’s no age limit, so you can go on doing it for as long as you like.

“People have misconceptions; that you just sit with your legs crossed singing Kumbaya! It’s not like that at all, but it is challenging. It’s as hard as you make it. It’s a bit like competitive golf; you never completely master it, you’re always learning. There’s no need to feel intimidated.

Julier Cook has been an Iyengar yoga instructor for 15 years. Picture by Stu Norton.

“Some people come who might have problems with their knees, hips or back. You don’t have to be super-flexible and put your leg around your head! It’s not like that and it’s not a competition to see who can do what.

“I have people who sit all day at work who come because the doctor has recommended yoga. It tests them, but they feel better for it. I always make sure I work with individuals.

“Be open-minded and aware that it’s not just a physical thing, it’s a mental thing as well. People come for all different reasons.”

The cost is £6 per session and there are no obligations. For more information call 07932 477201.

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