“I really enjoyed the yoga flow and visualisations and the simplicity of the mentoring workshop. I loved how nourishing both dimensions were, and appreciated the care and thought put in.”
Co-creating and delivering an original concept
It takes many ingredients to create and deliver an original workshop experience that everyone can enjoy and learn from. Especially when the workshop is a creative collaboration between two strong minded people, with expectations of their own.
Sally-Anne Reynolds, a Quantum Yoga teacher I met last Summer as a yoga student in one of her local East London classes, has very special qualities about her. Emotional intelligence. Upbeat energy combined with a calming influence. A wonderful caring and challenging teacher, whose yoga classes I love.
Before long we started talking outside yoga and realised we had a lot in common. Ambition. Hope. Make the world a better place by sharing our respective gifts and abilities. Create transformative experiences people can enjoy, and also be challenged by. In the name of self-development – exploring ways to feel better about our lives, choices, expectations, decisions.
In September, Sally-Anne attended one of my work life mentoring workshops, and it was after this we decided to look at creative ways we might combine our skill set, for the greater good. In a seamless effort, driven by Sally-Anne to make it happen, we devised a concept (New Year, True You Workshop), with a structure I knew would blend well (having designed other collaborative workshops before in particular with the London Symphony Orchestra). Sally-Anne’s yoga connections brought us to KIND YOGA STUDIO on De Beauvoir Road, for the venue – which is stunning. We picked a realistic date, and secured the venue.
We had a workshop name, a venue, a date, a price, a two and a half hour format, and endless enthusiasm to make it work.
Marketing followed hot to trot, and I designed a simple visual poster/postcard using original photography and a clear messaging hierarchy. Years working with graphic designers have taught me to think visually. This was a quick and easy task. Sally-Anne loved the designs. We explored options, with different visual and verbal hooks and settled on a suite of colours, imagery, and headings. We went gangbusters on social media, local flyering and word of mouth marketing. We wanted this to work, and for that we needed bookings! People to fill the room.
Regular meetings, reporting back on our respective marketing efforts, planning, rehearsing, tweaking the workshop format, liaising with KIND YOGA STUDIO, we kept up momentum and positive thinking. The bookings came. 12 altogether. 10 made it on the day. Just the right sized group. For us, and for our participants.
Since this was our first ever combined workshop, even though both of us are experienced workshop leaders, there’s no telling until the experience is underway how it’s going to work. Nor how the participants are going to take to the originality of the format.
“Liked the yoga and life mentoring combination”
It always takes a while for people to warm up, to anything new or original. I was up first. A short intro, a sonic visualisation to set the mood, and a first group exercise to get to know each other. We worked from a LIFE PACK, I designed with simple life mentoring exercises to complete. The first part was the toughest, as we had to be honest with what parts of our life are disconnected from our true self. One participant said “It was hard to be honest”. That’s actually a good point and the point to make here. It is hard to be honest about what we’re truly feeling good about, and what we’re not. An important part of the mentoring exercises was to share personal discoveries out loud. Some participants found this challenging, as it’s hard to open up in a group to share personal issues. They did it anyway. I felt incredibly moved, and encouraged by their strength to do so. Change never comes from a place of comfort. The discomfort is what allows us to challenge our status quo.
“It was good to hear the thoughts of others, many shared challenges”
“Liked that the life mentoring part made one think and identify, touching different areas”
Sally-Anne’s generous and grounding yoga practice took the participants on an energetic journey to the sound of her signature music tracks. Described as “awesome yoga”; “wonderful yoga” the flow eventually wound down to a more soothing place for meditation and a head massage, for each participant.
“Head massage – loved the essential oils bit in the end. Thank you!”
Returning to the concluding part of the life mentoring exercises, we took a walk round the zen garden created by the participants’ HAPPY AND ALIVE thoughts they shared previously.
The last exercises were to set priorities for 2016. Pinning down what we wanted to DO, and by when, and also what we wanted to STOP DOING, and by when. The DO is the positive, constructive action to take, the STOP DOING, is to get rid of the negative habits or behaviours that serve no-one. Least of all our true self.
To understand what worked well for our participants and what could be improved, we asked them to write down their feedback on postcards. Though we could see from the response we got verbally and energetically the workshop had been fulfilling for our participants, it’s always encouraging to have written feedback, to reflect on afterwards.
“Dynamic was perfect. Love how the class was structured, since at the beginning I put my mind in set, then opened it and relaxed it through yoga, and at the end everything was more clear and simple when thinking about objectives and improvements for 2016”
“Loved the calm feeling afterwards, the lovely positive people, wonderful yoga and great soul searching, very good ambiance, not too big a class / personal”
“It was lovely to combine two different aspects of self-care (yoga and goal setting) into one workshop. I’m leaving today feeling nourished and inspired”
Thank you to everyone who took part. and to my co-creator of the workshop, Sally-Anne. I too feel nourished and inspired.
More combined workshops to come!
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© Amanda Yensa Manor 2016