FINDING a place to escape stress and anxiety is a challenge any day of the week... but meet the Easterhouse locals who believe they’ve found the answer.

Celebrating a special final session, the Evening Times caught up with five ladies happy share why therapeutic yoga has transformed their lives for the better.

Thanks to YoGlasgow! — a 10-week community pilot created by yoga teacher Mick Gallagher — the women have gained physical and mental benefits they admit in the past have felt out of reach.

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Despite being a little hesitant about the idea of therapeutic yoga, Anne Bell started to notice positive changes within herself after just a few weeks.

Anne says: “Personally, I didn’t have a lot of confidence. I have depression and suffer with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and arthritis.”

“I thought how can one thing help with all that... but it’s amazing that it has.”

Anne adds: “It’s made a big influence on my life, helping me to sleep better and feel more relaxed within myself.”

Like all the ladies, Anne was referred to YoGlasgow! by her health practitioner as a trial in easing depression and isolation, often a result of living with severe anxieties behind closed doors.

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Where regular yoga is more intense, the therapeutic classes Mick teaches contain more focus on breathing and relaxation techniques.

Sharing her own benefits of the sessions, Christina Cassidy says: “I’ve had spinal ops and since I came here I’ve been able to do something rather than doing nothing. Before, I’d been really bad with my back but this has really helped it.”

“Any other people who’ve went through what I’ve went through have given up.”

Christina adds: “A lot of people like us in Easterhouse get ignored and more of this would be great.”

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A painter and decorator by trade, professionally qualified teacher Mick is passionate about integrating yoga into working class areas across Glasgow.

Perhaps not sporting the typical image of a yoga teacher, Mick admits: “I’m not really a beads and buddhist kind of guy, but I like to deliver a good class that covers all the basics, without getting overly spiritual.”

It’s that no nonsense personality which connects Mick to the very people who’ve benefitted most from his therapeutic yoga pilot.

With the ladies all in agreeing, Anne says: “He might not realise it, but a lot of it is down to Mick because he’s made us so comfortable."

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“He made me believe in myself that I wasn’t useless. It makes the difference that there’s somebody there to tell you you can do this.”

Mick acknowledges introducing yoga into working class health and sport centres has its own small challenges.

“There’s a common misconception that people think... oh yoga, that’s not for the likes of me,” he says. “But the ladies here have done all the hard work.”

Glasgow City Councillor Ruairi Kelly, who dropped by the Phoenix Centre to hand the ladies their well earned end-of-course certificates, says: “It’s really impressive being here seeing the work that’s being done.”

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“We get lots of wee applications for funding from different groups but you don’t often get to see the outcome of it.”

“It’s been amazing to see the change that all the ladies are talking about. It helps put a lot of it into perspective. It’s not just the ladies themselves... it’s all their families who’re benefitting too.”

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With the aim of teaching more successful10-week therapeutic sessions in the future, Mick is currently making a call out to potential funding partners across Glasgow.

“Everybody thinks YoGlasgow! is great, all the women testify to it. It costs £125 just for one person to go to the GP... so think about how much we can save.”