Decorator swaps paintbrush for yoga in deprived Easterhouse

Mick Gallagher has become a yoga teacher to inspire other 'working-class' men.

A painter and decorator from Glasgow has launched a yoga school offering free classes to people living in deprived communities.

Mick Gallagher trained to become a teacher to inspire other “working-class” men like him.

YoGlasgow! is based at the Phoenix Community Centre in Easterhouse, but classes take place across the city.

“I started practising yoga myself, and then I came to the conclusion pretty quickly that there aren’t many working class men teaching yoga,” Mick told STV News.

“I thought, ‘well, how do you fix that?’ and the answer was by training to be a yoga instructor.

“It is pretty elitist. It is a kind of ‘ladies who lunch’ thing. It has changed a lot over the years but it doesn’t change by itself. Nothing changes by itself.”

Volunteer-run initiatives like these are crucial in Easterhouse, which suffers from unemployment, health inequalities and under-investment.

Several people attending the classes told STV News it helped them deal with the effects of Parkinson’s disease.

“I didn’t want to come at the start because I didn’t want to see other people with Parkinson’s,” said one of those taking part, Elizabeth.

“But I felt it helped me to come and mix with people. And it helped my mental health because when you get diagnosed with Parkinson’s you feel isolated.”

When the classes started a few years ago, only a handful of people would attend. But now the numbers are increasing week on week.

“People need a sense of purpose, they also need somewhere to go,” said Richard McShane, who runs the Phoenix Centre.

“I was dubious about yoga at the start, because yoga in Easterhouse isn’t something you can say to people.

“But the benefits of yoga for people with mental health is amazing. We’re seeing great results.”

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