NESTLED in the heart of Bridport town centre is the community orchard – a space which may not look like much at first glance but one that is steadily becoming a new activity retreat.
The orchard is just under one acre of land, located off South Street and just a stone’s throw behind St Mary’s churchyard, with a pond and community allotment.
It grew out of two community initiatives, one in Bridport, to save a field from development and the other, a year-long project of The Symondsbury Apple Project, which was designed to raise awareness of Dorset’s rich orchard heritage.
The field links South Street to the River Brit and was designated as a green space for community use in 2006.
Yoga in the Orchard, a new project by a variety of local teachers aiming to get the community active and learn something new, looks to be one of many earmarked for the land.
Yoga is an ancient healing science originating from India over 4,000 years ago that is practiced all over the world.
The Sanskrit word ‘yoga’ means to unite – often interpreted as uniting the mind, body and spirit.
Yoga is regarded highly for its benefits that help keep the body healthy, the mind clear and create a deeper sense of self awareness.
The local yoga project was set up by Alice Chutter and Sarah Higgins – two friends and yoga teachers based in Bridport.
Alice, 31, said: “The great thing about yoga is that because it’s so vast there is a style and a teacher to suit everybody.
“Yoga in the Orchard will give people the chance to explore different teachers and approaches and find something that feels right for them.
“It’s also just about getting outside, enjoying some yoga in the fresh air and feeling part of a community.”
A range of local yoga teachers are leading one week each and offer the community the chance to try a variety of styles and teaching approaches. Payment is by donation – so that the classes can be affordable and accessible to as many people as possible.
A portion of the donations each week will go towards the upkeep of the Community Orchard. More information on Yoga in the Orchard and the various teachers can be found online at facebook.com/bridportyogawithalice or by contacting Alice on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those who want to find out more about the Bridport Community Orchard can visit bridportcommunityorchard.org.uk
MEET THE TEACHERS
THERE are a range of local Yoga teachers involved in Yoga in the Orchard, and each will be offering a taster of their teaching style and yoga practice.
The classes are open to everyone, including children and those completely new to yoga.
The Yoga in the Orchard timetable is as follows:
July 6 - Corrie Van Rijn (British Wheel of Yoga)
July 13 - There will be no yoga due to an Orchard volunteer day
July 20 - Rosannah Wadsworth (Vinyasa Flow)
July 27 - Mark Winterburn (Ashtanga Yoga)
August 3 - Lesley Wilson (Hatha/British Wheel of Yoga)
SO FAR I’ve been a warrior, a dog, a baby, and fired a bow and arrow.
I know what you’re thinking but no, this isn’t a crazy Alice in Wonderland dream but is the beginnings of a new yoga class in Bridport – and these are just some of the yoga positions I’ve learnt today.
There is nothing more awakening on a Sunday morning than recreating a warrior pose on a blanket in a green open space. Having said that, there is nothing more relaxing than learning how to control your breathing outside in the fresh air. These two factors merged to create an exercise class that for once I felt comfortable in.
Gone are the days when you’re the most out of breath person in an exercise class and slyly try to shuffle to the back of the room.
It turns out, I barely broke a sweat but at the same time felt like I had done some exercise – a winning combination in my book.
Winding through the narrow walkways that lead to the Bridport community orchard, my first worry was whether anyone else would be brave enough to wrestle their way out of bed at 9am and join me.
It turns out I didn’t need to worry, because I reached the orchard and saw at least 20 men and women, some with small young children, looking as excited to give this a go as I was. Not long after setting up my blanket I was welcomed by Alice, the second in seven local yoga teachers wanting to inspire the community in an outside open space.
Looking around me the age bracket ranged from two-year-old children to a group of women in their 60s – an example of a class for all ages, I thought.
Before long I was testing muscles I had long forgotten about with a wide variety of yoga poses. I had never tried yoga before but being outside made a huge deal of difference and went some way to relax us during the course of the session.
In typical British fashion we did have a slight drizzle of rain, but it lasted for less than five minutes and once that subsided warm sunshine took its place.
The class didn’t feel too strenuous and before I knew it I had completed a full hour and 15 minutes of exercise.
The best thing about the class was that there will be more of them by various teachers over the next four weeks – and payment is by donation, you give what you can afford.