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Zoya Ahmed and Nurun Uddin

MHA (Methodist Homes)
Biblical Yoga

Last update Sept 2020

MHA (Methodist Homes) is an award-winning charity providing care, accommodation and support services for older people throughout Britain. It is our mission to improve the quality of life of older people inspired by Christian concern.

Through the provision of 130 chaplains across MHA’s facilities and schemes we are committed to caring and meeting the needs of older people in body, mind and spirit.

Today we support these people through our unique blend of care homes, community and retirement living schemes embedded in local communities.

As the largest charity in the sector, we invest all our donated income and any surplus we generate into developing and enhancing the services we are able to offer.
We deliver a range of high quality services to more than 19,000 individuals:
•  11,500 older people supported through 62 Live at Home schemes in the community
•  3,000 older people living independently in 68 retirement living communities with    flexible support and personalised care
•  4,500 older people living in 90 care homes providing residential, nursing and specialist dementia care
Biblical Yoga for Older People

Biblical Yoga is a unique combination of Bible story and armchair exercise and is a recent development at MHA written and developed by one of our Chaplains, Yvonne Myers who works at MHA Amathea Care Home in Cumbria.

The informal and interactive approach has been recognised by staff in the home and won the prize for Innovation in Care at the 2018 MHA awards.

Biblical Yoga is a low impact and low intensity designed for older and frailer adults and for those with disabilities. The benefits of regular gentle chair-based exercise have been well documented for older people in care home settings. Regular exercise helps older people to stay mobile, more alert and reduces the risk of falls.  Movement and exercise are an important part of our health.

Linking the movements of yoga movements with reciting the Bible stories results in participants benefitting from both mental and physical stimulation, which combines to enhance wellbeing.

MHA Worship Engagement in Later Life Events
We plan to deliver this project through a series of events titled Worship Engagement in Later Life events (WELL).

The training sessions will be delivered by experienced Chaplains and Dementia Care Specialists through the WELL events at various church locations. The learnings of this training will then be disseminated through the wider communities where these specialists work. The training will be open to people of all faiths in this area and will be partly delivered by video which will then be followed by demonstrations and question and answer sessions. These 6 events will be held around the UK from October until November 2019.

The training including Biblical Yoga will then be cascaded by worship leaders into local communities and multi-generational church services.
Through the sharing of this good practice we aim to transform people’s wellbeing and involvement in worship.



Update September 2020

After the original six WELL events took place all over the UK, two additional events took place in December through invitation from churches.

Additional events were set to take place in spring, however due to the pandemic these were postponed. However these, alongside others we hope to be able to deliver in early 2021.

We were able to gather data from the WELL events and found that they have had a significantly positive impact. One attendee noted three months after attending an event and leading services that “I am still finding that the 'ripple effect' from the training is helping me."

Data further showed this with an over 50% increase in attendees level of comfort in leading worship with non-verbal communication when comparing feelings before and after attending.

Additionally, prior to events nearly 15% did not feel able to lead a service with unexpected contributions, whereas this percentage decreased to 0% post-event, meaning everyone felt able to lead services within this context.

This data highlights the importance of the WELL events, particularly that of biblical yoga and for those living with dementia.

With this in mind, MHA were pleased to accept a place at the 2020 Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference, to present data from the Worship Engagement in Later in Life (WELL) events.

A large part of these WELL events were to promote dementia inclusive churches, engaging with one of the main aims of the conference ‘big questions in making society dementia friendly’.

As with many events, the conference was postponed until 2021 due to the pandemic.

We hope to be able to present our poster next year and help people to learn more about the WELL programme and how this can encourage and support people living with dementia to not only engage with their spirituality but teach the wider church how to engage with their spirituality in a meaningful way.

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