Tired and sluggish yet too busy to stop? Feel daunted by the dark days looming? Or perhaps you fancy a change from your usual exercise routine? I know I do. Even as a keen swimmer the prospect of leaving the leisure centre with the wind whipping around my neck and damp hair isn’t very enticing. That’s why I fancied checking out The Mandala, Preston’s new yoga and complementary therapy centre. I went along to chat to centre director Marguerita Colley, to find out more.
Located minutes away from the bus station the Mandala is a haven of calm amongst the heaving traffic and activity of central Preston. The centre opened up earlier this year and offers a range of classes for beginners through to more accomplished yogis.
The centre is run by Marguerita Colley and Angela Ratcliff, centre manager. Marguerita greets me warmly as I arrive at the centre one sunny, autumnal day and takes me on a tour of the centre. Her background is in nursing.She began practising yoga in 1980, progressing to teaching yoga in 1985, “I was in operating theatres as an anaesthetic nurse. I found that with anaesthetics , because it was all to do with the respiratory system that using yoga practices on methods of breathing to work with stress, to calm people down that I was using it at work and it was very effective.”
She progressed to becoming a yoga teacher in 1985 and now specialises in Ashtanga Yoga. She tells me that the name Mandala is the sanskrit word for circle, connection and community. The Mandala is often used for meditation. The centre is situated over two floors of a light and airy building on Derby Street. Despite it’s central location it is very peaceful. Downstairs there is a yoga practice space, therapy room and comfortable reception area. Upstairs there is a much larger yoga space, with light streaming through the windows. I wondered what inspired Marguerita and Angela to open the centre in Preston.
“The inspiration was a calling to share the knowledge myself and my business partner had accumulated with the public,” she tells me. “And the centre of Preston seemed to be the ideal place as its a growing city. We felt that we wanted to play a role in helping people find a little bit of quiet in their busy schedules.”
So how can yoga benefit people?
“We are all living, breathing moving species. Our bodies are not designed to be in chairs or bent forwards for long periods of time, over computers, desks and driving,” says Marguerita . “It helps the individual realise that they are not just a brain, they have a physical body around that brain and if they look after that physical body it will look after their health. It will ward off problems with their back, stress problems and it may actually reduce the involvement with stressful situations at work. Purely through breathing, closing your eyes and becoming aware of your breath and taking deep breathes for a period of one or two minutes even can make a huge difference. You need to be reminded and I think yoga classes remind people of those simple tools they can use.”
Classes include Stillpoint Ashtanga Yoga, Relaxation and Meditation Yoga, dedicated yoga classes for men, pregnancy yoga and yoga for people living with cancer. Marguerita advises that yoga can benefit most people. You don’t need to be super flexible to take it up.
“I’m very sad that most people think of yoga as being a very complicated physical thing of having to put your foot behind your head and I wish that people would understand that the physical side is only a small part of yoga,” says Marguerita. “Yoga is about balancing your mental activity with your physical activity and with your spirituality, with who you are as an individual and it is trying to get you to look in on those things and bring back balance where there is imbalance and part of that is physical work to keep the physical body working well and as a therapy.”
The centre is wheelchair accessible and Marguerita outlines that the centre is open to everyone, no matter their age or ability level, with classes for people just finishing work, classes for people with mobility problems, with children’s yoga, ante-natal yoga and mother and baby classes planned for the new year. There is also Yoga for Lower Back Health, a new programme starting in November which has been trialled by physiotherapists and chiro-practitioners in hospitals. The centre also offers yoga therapy, massage and life coaching.
The Mandala will also be running regular training days for yoga teachers and will have a Rajesh David, Greg Nardi and John Scott, renowned international yoga teachers visiting. The centre are also keen to work with local businesses to help reduce staff sickness and to organise meditation classes for ex-servicemen and women.
Marguerita suggests that anyone thinking of coming along to a class or for a therapy to phone the centre and have a chat to one of the teachers or therapists, to work out what might best suit that particular person.
“We hope we will make yoga accessible to people, we hope people will combine coming to do a shop in town with coming to a class or have a therapy.”
The Mandala, 18 Derby Street, Preston, PR1 1DT T: 0781 376 6648
Parking is available at an NCP car park close to the centre £4 per day, bus station car park or car park on Manchester Road.
Classes to start in the new year include ante-natal yoga, children’s yoga and a baby cafe. Contact the centre for details on these and other classes. The centre is also on Facebook, check in for updated class information.