Offering a safe, supportive environment for the older generation to promote better health

Aleksandra Sasha Horwood, tells us how she set up Happy Stance Yoga Therapy, after being made redundant….

Happy Stance Yoga Therapy

Aleksandra Sasha Horwood

Outset offered me support and encouragement right from the initial meeting and it helped me to not feel so alone

“Offering a safe, supportive environment for the older generation to promote better health”

Originally from Croatia, where she worked as a journalist, Aleksandra also worked in Germany and France teaching yoga for over 25 years. In 2017 she moved to Walthamstow in the UK where she worked in customer service and social media for a company. Unfortunately, she was made redundant from this role and found it difficult to find new work and so the idea for Happy Stance Yoga Therapy was born to offer a safe, supportive environment for the older generation to promote better health and prevent falls.

After getting in touch with Outset Waltham Forest, Aleksandra had a number of one to one coaching sessions which helped her with the process of setting up a business in a country where she was not familiar with the legislation, financial requirements and culture. She attended a number of workshops in finance, business and marketing including social media.

“It was a very friendly and professional environment which helped me when I was feeling a bit lost. Outset enabled me to start networking with people in a similar situation and those who could help me on my business journey.”

Aleksandra continued, “A group of business start-ups set up a What’s App group so that we could support each other, offer help and advice and motivate each other which I found really rewarding.”

“Outset offered me support and encouragement right from the initial meeting and it helped me to not feel so alone. I realised that there were a lot of small businesses, each doing their own thing but through the support network we built, we were able to help each other.”

With Outset’s support, Aleksandra established Happy Stance Yoga in November 2019 after a period of building her contacts and developing relationships with key local organisations who could potentially become sources of clients. She has also engaged with a range of age groups locally by offering free yoga and meditation classes in Walthamstow Library as well as sessions for older people in workplaces and in the community.

“When you start a business, there is so much to think about and do, that it can feel like your head is exploding but Outset helped me to work through it. The team were always available and ready to help and that was invaluable.”

Aleksandra believes in full engagement in the local community and has been a guest speaker for Connecting Communities over 50’s opening event and lectured at the Love Yourself Festival organized by a youth organization promoting mental health and wellbeing.

Aleksandra makes a conscious effort to reach out to both the organisations who make policy decisions about ageing and health as well as demonstrating the benefits of yoga to members of community. She has also continued to develop her business knowledge and skills, becoming an avid user of social media to communicate to her audience across a number of platforms.

“My ambition when I started was to concentrate on both ends of the age spectrum, the elderly and the youth. However, it became clear that I needed to focus on one age demographic in order for my business to succeed. Since there is greater awareness of the benefits of wellbeing for the elderly age group, I made the decision to focus on this group when starting out,”

“I do have to curb my enthusiasm sometimes as I always try to say yes to new projects which can distract me from my own business such as becoming an Ask Me Ambassador, in the Waltham Forest gang prevention programme.”

This year, Aleksandra says that she wants to concentrate on her business in order to help it become more established. She plans to continue to work with the public sector, health and community organisations to spread the word about the benefits of health and wellbeing for both the young and old. She wants to start to offer classes to residential and care homes for the elderly with other health and yoga practitioners as well as help people in the local community who cannot afford expensive yoga classes. “It has taken me a long time, but I am now developing strong links with social prescribers who work from GP surgeries with day centres, charities and community groups, which I hope will help me in the future,” says Aleksandra.

Aleksandra praised Outset, saying;

“I would recommend Outset to others as it is amazing what it can help you to achieve! It is a service which is extremely valuable to businesses to help them to develop their ideas. Outset has a good reputation and is well known in Waltham Forest and I would encourage others to take advantage of their assistance and support.”