We want to help a variety of marginalised communities lead healthier and happier lives. We’re accomplishing this by partnering with existing social enterprises and charities in offering traditional yoga courses to the people they work with.
- Raising £500 provides a yoga course to a group of ex-offenders some of whom also have substance misuse and/or mental health issues. This course is being offered in collaboration with the social enterprise Home Group.
- Raising £1000 provides the above course and a second course to unaccompanied young asylum seekers. This course is being offered in collaboration with the charity After 18.
- Raising £1500 provides the above two courses and a third course to a mixed group of asylum seekers and homeless people. This course is being offered in collaboration with the social enterprise Inclusion Healthcare.
All sessions are 90 minutes long and will take place once a week for 12 weeks. We will give all course participants reference material and encourage them to develop a personal practice so that the benefits of the course continue on long after the course has finished. If you want to learn more about our partner organisations, please follow the links above.
Who are we?
We are Danielle (Dani) and Michael Texeira, the co-founders of The Be Happy Yoga Project, a socially responsible enterprise based in Leicester. We teach yoga classes that are open to the public, private group yoga classes and yoga for children with autism/ADHD, as well as community classes. We have been teaching yoga for 10 and 8 years respectively, and both trained with the International Sivananda Yoga and Vedanta organisation. We both really believe in the potential for yoga and mindfulness to transform lives through improved physical, mental and emotional health. Neither of us can imagine where we would be if hadn’t been fortunate enough to discover yoga.
What do we want to achieve?
We strongly believe that offering these teachings to marginalised communities has the potential to improve society as a whole from the ground up. It is in this spirit that we’ve started this crowdfunding campaign to allow you to be part of the vision that we have.
While our goals are somewhat course specific in that we want to address the specialised needs of the individual groups, there are some common benefits of yoga that we believe will benefit each group equally:
- Increased strength and flexibility
- Better posture and balance
- Improved breathing patterns
- Stress relief and relaxation
- Improved emotional regulation
- Increased self-confidence
- More positive mental outlook
Yoga is a whole body/mind practice that works at improving physical, mental and emotional functioning. Yoga, in its many forms, has been practised by people for many thousands of years. Although there had been many anecdotal reports of how effective it is, there hadn’t been any scientific evidence until recently. In the last few years a multitude of clinical trials and other research have confirmed the efficacy of yoga. Yoga has been shown to help with a variety of health conditions from anxiety, depression, fibromyalgia to diabetes, osteoporosis and arthritis.
For our own part, we will ask all participants to complete a well-being survey at the start and end of the course and then use this to data to measure the social impact of the yoga we are teaching.
What happens to the participants once the course has finished?
As part of the course, we plan to help the participants develop a home practice and teach them techniques that they can use whenever the moment requires, such as deep breathing and relaxation exercises. If there are any participants who show themselves to be serious students of yoga and who we believe will fit into one of our open yoga classes, we will consider admitting them free of charge to one of those groups.
What have we achieved so far?
Back in 2013, I (Dani) had the chance to teach yoga at The Dawn Centre, a homeless shelter in Leicester. It was the first time I’d taught (or properly interacted with) anyone homeless, ex-offenders, alcoholics, drug addicts, people with severe mental health issues and groups made up almost entirely of men. It challenged me, made me sad, scared and thrilled me probably in equal measure.
Two experiences stand out - one was the centre director thanking me and telling me that a young alcoholic had stopped drinking as a result of the yoga classes he’d been attending. The second was watching one ex-offender’s emotional state transform in front of my eyes. He went from pure rage, wanting to exact revenge on someone who had slighted him to beaming, and being genuinely surprised at how good he felt, all in the space of 90 minutes. He asked me what it was that he was feeling…I ventured that he might be feeling relaxed. He told me he’d never felt like that before and hadn’t known there was any option other than beating someone up. I made up my mind there and then that these were the people I wanted to work with.
In 2015, we returned to Leicester from Germany determined we would find a way to do this work. It had been our dream to teach yoga together since we got married! We knew we’d have to create the container for this work ourselves and thus The Be Happy Yoga Project was born.
Early on in 2016, we approached local charities and social enterprises to find out whether they thought yoga would be beneficial for their users. This exercise ended up with us having list of organisations in the local voluntary and community sector who were keen to work with us. We picked three organisations and provided each with a free 12 week yoga pilot programme for their users. The groups were as follows:
- Project Polska - A small local charity who support Eastern European migrants settle into their new lives in the UK. They are a very small charity and often missed out on funding opportunities, so were really thankful to be chosen.
- LASS - A local charity who work with people affected by HIV and/or Aids. They have continued to support us in many ways, particularly in providing us with a beautiful space in which to teach open yoga classes and in championing our yoga classes to the local VCS sector.
- Inclusion Healthcare - A local social enterprise who provide healthcare services to asylum seekers and homeless people. They were forced to pull out of the programme midway through due to staffing issues. However, their circumstances have now changed and they are keen to start working with us again.
Since, then we have started up three open classes each week. We offer scaled class fees so that no one is turned away due to cost. Those on low incomes pay half and if that is too much then we either accept less or offer to trade something other than currency.
Our long-term goal is to draw more students to our open classes and to start up new classes, both open and private in order to sustain our free community classes. The model we are working towards is to offer outstanding yoga classes where those that can afford to pay are given the opportunity to help support others without means to access regular classes.
So, why are we crowdfunding this project?
We would like to become a fully-fledged social enterprise once we are more established. As a micro-enterprise, adopting a legal structure considered acceptable for a social enterprise would currently be prohibitively expensive. With this in mind, we are not eligible for the majority of grants. We are also working with people who have little to no personal income of their own, especially not to spend on anything beyond what is physically necessary in order to survive. Additionally, the charities and social enterprises we are working with do not have the budget to contribute towards the cost of the yoga courses. According the Office for National Statistics, people in Leicester have the lowest levels of disposable income in the country making funding these courses particularly challenging. Crowdfunding gives us the best chance to reach into and beyond the local community to reach people who believe in and value what we’re trying to do.
Based on our video performance, we probably don't have a media career ahead of us, so we'd really love our idea to work!
What will the funds raised be used for?
Fees - Around 10% of funds raised via crowdfunding are used to pay fees to the crowdfunding platform, Paypal and other money transfer fees, or are lost due to the payments not going through and cancellations.
Room hire - LASS are generously allowing us to use their space to teach the Home Group course. We have agreed to make a donation to LASS for the use of the room to enable them to continue with their mission.
Costs - These include the costs of creating rewards, as well as the costs of producing course materials, transport, and sundries (and there are always unforeseen costs!).
Why are we raising money to pay for our time?
Our vision is for The Be Happy Yoga Project to be our full time work. Our long term plan is to use the class fees from our open classes to subsidise our community classes. However, at the moment our open classes are not yet well enough established for us to raise enough money to do so. This is our first crowdfunding campaign, and is an attempt to enable us to spend our time offering yoga to people who would not normally have the chance to learn these valuable teachings.
In an ideal situation, we’d be able to offer courses like this for free without worry, but as it stands, we have living costs (rent, food, etc.) and the courses themselves have running costs. Incidentally, this also why we so passionately support the idea of a Universal Basic Income!
What happens if we don’t raise the money?
We have committed to running the courses and will do so anyway. You will just be helping us to feed and house ourselves!
How else can you help?
In addition to supporting this crowdfunding campaign you can help us in the following ways:
- Share our crowdfunding campaign with your own community
- Come to our open yoga classes and tell other people about them
- Offer items or services as additional crowdfunding rewards
- Trade services with us for yoga classes
Where can you find out more about us?
About the rewards
Most of the rewards we are offering are being created by our loving hands. The framed silhouettes, however, are being made by our dear friends at EM+ME. Please have a look at their Facebook page. I'm sure you'll agree they are two very talented ladies and you might just find a few more present ideas there!
Photos have been used with the kind permission of Yoga Trail.