A NEW community yoga initiative is launching this month following a successful two-month pilot.

South Bradford Yoga is the brainchild of local software engineer Simon Carter, who has teamed up with the Royds Community Association to provide the service.

Initially, Simon will run five classes each week in and around Woodside, with the aim of extending the timetable as demand grows and linking up with other community services.

The project has been awarded Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) funding from Bradford VCS Alliance, a Bradford City and Districts Clinical Commissioning Group project set up to support grass roots community activities that improve the health and wellbeing of local people.

The grant will enable Simon to run ‘Pay As You Feel’ classes for local residents, where people pay what they can afford.

“South Bradford Yoga is very much a community-led initiative, and I’m also keen to bust some myths around who can and can’t benefit from yoga,” he said.

“I hear so many people saying they are too big, too stiff, not fit enough or bendy enough for yoga. That was my view when I first introduced to it, too.

“What I now know is that the people you see in convoluted yoga poses have spent years getting to that stage, which means the poses have to be more complex for them to feel the benefits.

"Most people - myself included - don’t have to get anywhere near that level to feel those same benefits. South Bradford Yoga is all about helping those people enjoy the physical and mental health benefits yoga provides, as well as people who are more experienced.”

It was Simon’s recovery from a knee injury that was the catalyst for what has now become South Bradford Yoga.

He said: “I spent the first half of my career running an event production company working on concert lighting and video systems, with a career high in 2005 working on Pink Floyd’s Live 8 concerts. For the last ten years I’ve been employed as a software consultant in a variety of industries.

“Throughout that time I’ve always had a strong desire to make a difference and give something back, and I’ve been involved with a number of community projects and initiatives on a voluntary basis.”

A friend suggested yoga as part of his knee injury recovery.

"At first, I laughed at the idea," he said.

"Let’s just say I don’t exactly fit the ‘yoga bunny’ stereotype: I’m not a small man; I’m not a fan of Lycra; and I certainly wouldn’t class myself as flexible. But my friend persevered, and eventually convinced me to give it a try.”

Simon added: "Yoga can help with a lot of things that many people don’t realise.

"It can help relieve anxiety and stress, fight depression, reduce chronic pain, lower blood pressure, improve heart health and sleep quality.

"It has helped me massively over the last few years, and left me thinking why didn’t I start doing it years ago? That’s what’s motivating me to help other people of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities experience those benefits.”

South Bradford Yoga will run classes for all ages and abilities on Wednesday evenings and Tuesday and Saturday mornings at Woodside Village Centre.

Additional classes will be added to the schedule, depending on demand.

For more information, visit southbradfordyoga.com.