Author: saskia neary

NEW yoga group at the Royal Alex


Yoga Group NEW ***

Tuesdays 10.00-11.00

Weekly yoga sessions at the Royal Alex. Offering a safe and effective way to very gently explore physical activity, especially strength, flexibility and balance and to help with stress and anxiety. This group will support young people to develop resilience and their own tools for self-care. For young people. Maximum 5 places

A calm, relaxing, comfortable space for you, a chance to meet other young people, no expectations to do anything. Join in when and if you choose to. Term time only.

There will be a diverse group of young people with different bodies and minds. All are patients at RACH who have ongoing health conditions. The yoga will be adapted specifically to suit your needs in the group.

Feeling effective as a young person living with illness depends on a capacity to draw upon your own resources. Yoga can help to support you to develop practical tools for resilience; to calm anxiety, to manage stress and pain, to connect with a stronger sense of self and build confidence in your abilities to flourish. Yoga can nurture optimal growth and development on a physical and psychological level. Yoga also stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system and helps develop the immune system.

A weekly yoga session will include: 

Breathwork – looking at how we breathe to help feel grounded and calm in mind and body – this helps to reduce anxiety. 

Knowledge – Understanding what’s happening in the body when we get stressed or anxious and the benefits of yoga for the mind and body based on ideas from neuroscience. Learning and practicing a few simple yoga postures that can be used at home that will help let go of stress and anxiety.


Questions you may have: Will I be able to manage this physically? Will it  make me worse? I might feel exhausted after? Who else will be there?

If you are interested but first want to ask some questions please contact Saskia Neary on 07887610911 or Saskia has trained with Universal Yoga (200hr Yoga Teacher Training, Yoga Alliance accredited) and The Teen Yoga Foundation (Complete Yoga Alliance TeenYoga teacher training). ( See for details.

Art Therapy and Yoga Group

New developments in 2017

Working with Dr Pooky Knightsmith from the Charlie Waller Memorial Fund (CWMT)

I had an exciting opportunity recently to collaborate with my fabulous colleague Clare Arnold (Art Therapist from Brighton and Hove) to deliver a workshop to Learning Mentors from Brighton and Hove Primary Schools. We explored the benefits of using creativity in their work with children to explore and express feelings. This event was part of the CWMT’s commitment to support staff working with young people to develop their ability to recognise and manage mental health issues (

Pooky directs the children, young people and schools programme at the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, which is a charity providing fully-funded mental health training to schools. She is a passionate ambassador for mental health who loves to research, write, speak, teach and share all manner of ideas about mental health, wellbeing and PSHE. Her enthusiasm is backed up both by a PhD in child and adolescent mental health and her own lived experience of anorexia, self-harm, anxiety and depression.

teenyoga-logoYoga for Teenagers

After Easter I will be offering Yoga sessions in Brighton for teenagers; either one to one or in small groups. If you are interested in finding out more please contact me ( You can also have a look on my new web page for more info about Yoga for Teenagers.

I trained with Charlotta Martinus from Teen Yoga  which is fully accredited by Yoga Alliance UK and Independent Yoga Network ( Teen Yoga supports the charity TeenYoga Foundation, whose aim is to support optimal mental and physical well-being in young people.

Yoga is a fantastic tool for young people to deal with stress, anxiety and to cope better with emotions and the everyday pressures that so many face. Yoga can help to bring emotional balance. I am also really looking forward to developing innovative work with young people that includes both Yoga and Art Therapy.

Yoga can give young people (and indeed the rest of us!) new tools to support their own emotional wellbeing and good mental health by listening inwards to their bodies, thoughts and ideas (see Ingunn Hargen & Usha S. Nayar, Yoga for children and young people’s mental health and well-being: research review and reflections on the mental health potentials of yoga, Frontiers in Psychiatry, 02, April,2014).

Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective

I have recently joined ranks with the Dragonfly Wellbeing Collective which was set up last year by two very dynamic, skilled and committed individuals; Paula Goldsmith and Margot Uden.

We are planning to work collaboratively on various exciting projects over the coming year which I will tell you more about in my next post. In the meantime have a look at their website to find out more.


Yoga and teenagers

Over the last couple of years I have become more and more interested in how I can bring yoga together with my art therapy practice. I have started to do some yoga training and to explore how yoga and art therapy can complement each other.

Next week I am going to do a Complete Yoga Alliance accredited 5 day course with Charlotta Martinus from Teen Yoga. Empowering teens through yoga and mindfulness including the latest neuroscience, mindfulness research and disciplinary techniques. I wonder if this will be the beginning of something new for me!? It will build on my previous training in 2015; Yoga for neurodevelopmental differences with Dr Lucy Clarke introducing yoga and mindfulness for people with Autism and ADHD and the Special Yoga Foundation training, Getting Started Teaching yoga and mindfulness to teens.

Perhaps someday I’ll be running one to one and group yoga sessions which includes art therapy to help young people relax, focus and concentrate. Supporting them to develop self awareness and a positive relationship with themselves starting with compassion and acceptance. I really believe art therapy and yoga together can offer something innovative and positive to young people as they navigate their way through times of anxiety, stress and confusion and start to build a stronger sense of self and find ways to express themselves creatively without judgement and fear.

Bring it on!

Art Therapy at Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

Art Therapy at Brighton Health and Wellbeing Centre

Art therapy gives children, young people and adults an opportunity to use art materials to explore the world around them and start expressing and making sense of thoughts and feelings which may be difficult to talk about. You don’t need any previous experience of making art and you don’t need to be good at art to benefit from art therapy!

Children and Young People

Children and young people can sometimes feel under a lot of pressure. They might be dealing with changes or concerns (in relation to home, school, family, friends, developing identity, growing up and so on) which leave them feeling confused, stressed, sad, anxious and sometimes depressed. Early intervention to support and improve a child’s mental health and wellbeing is essential. Art therapy offers a safe space to start exploring and understanding what’s going on – how a young person is feeling and where aspects of their day to day life might be causing them difficulties.

“Using materials like clay, ink, paint, charcoal and recycled objects to create something or just to doodle and play can help a child or young person get in touch with how they are feeling. Sometimes it’s easier to make something that connects with what you’re feeling inside rather than find the words to talk about it. The image or object can open up a space to start to understand”. Saskia (Art Therapist at BHWC).

Art therapy is particularly helpful when children and young people may struggle to find the words to express how they feel. Being part of an art therapy group can help develop confidence and the ability to trust others as children and young people begin to notice and value their own feelings and experiences alongside their peers.


Adults can access one to one art therapy sessions with a referral from their GP. If you have concerns about your mental health and experience anxiety, distress, depression – art therapy can help.

Art Therapy Benefits

Creative absorption in art making – the process of becoming even for a moment lost in or preoccupied with the creative process of making and using materials can help develop a stronger sense of self.

Sense of agency and choice – individuals make artistic choices about materials, where to place a mark on a page, the subject matter of their work and so on. This can help develop a sense of control and agency, and a sense of self from which these choices emerge. Putting a young person in touch with their inner world supports them to think and feel for themselves in their own individual way.

Art therapy and art activities – both are valid processes in their own right with different emphases. Art therapy is the exploration of a personal issue or situation using art materials, along the way artworks of great merit may be produced (but this is not the main focus).

Telling a story through art – change can occur when a young person is able to direct their feelings into making art which can be shared with the therapist and others in a group. They can tell their story through the art.

Self discovery – the act of creating art triggers a sense of relief and well-being through the recognition and acknowledgement of subconscious feelings. It may also help us discover abilities we did not known we had.

Personal fulfilment – the creation itself is a tangible reward that can build confidence and nurture feelings of self worth and personal fulfilment.

Empowerment – individuals express emotions and fears that they were unable able to convey through conventional means giving them a sense of control over these feelings.

Physical rehabilitation and symptom relief – the act of creating art helps individuals cope with pain. It helps promote physiological healing by helping to identify and work through anger and resentment issues as well as other emotional stresses. It can also help ease fears caused from disease and chronic illness.

Overall, art therapy helps progress us from unconscious distress to a conscious level where we can begin to heal and move in the direction of a more fulfilled and improved quality of life.

Feedback from participants and parents about how art therapy has helped:

“I do feel the group has had a great impact. His anger is so much more controlled now and he has enjoyed the group”

“He was very anxious before he joined. Since he has been attending he seems happier and more content”

“Safety, belonging, interaction. Trying art and exploring art”

“It offers a safe, happy, fun space for children to express their feelings that are out of control and without the pressure to keep up their roles within the family”

“I have been able to keep calm and not snap and burst as I know I will have time to talk about it in the group”

“Made me feel not alone and there are people who are feeling the same as me”

“I was able to keep my anxiety under control”

“I get angry a lot less often”

“I feel a lot more relaxed/ calm, not feeling as confused”

Art therapists are bound by law to be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) To find out more about art therapy have a look at the British Association of Art Therapy (BAAT)

Further reading:

Art therapy for Children: How it Leads to Change, Professor Diane Waller, Clinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 2006 SAGE Publications (London, Thousand Oaks and New Delhi) Vol 11(2): 271–282. Handbook of Art Therapy, Cathy A. Malchiodi PhD ATR-BC LPCC (Editor), 2011, Guildford Press.