#SoADoesYoga - SoA launches health and wellbeing initiative

4 August 2017

Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Joanna Trollope, Lemn Sissay and Joanne Harris are prepped to inspire poses and donate signed books next week in a five day ‘yoga challenge’, organised by The Society of Authors to raise awareness of the importance of authors looking after themselves and each other.

Illustration © Anna Marinova

The Society of Authors (SoA) has enlisted the help of five well-known writers for a weeklong Twitter yoga challenge. From Monday 7 to Friday 11 August, the organisation will tweet a daily photograph of a yoga pose inspired by a much-loved book, then invite followers to take up the challenge by submitting a picture in which they either:

  • recreate the pose (just how flexible is a typical UK author?)
  • try out an alternative pose (for those who feel it is unwise to pursue an answer to the previous question)
  • subvert the pose (given the professional pursuits of many of the SoA’s 36,000 Twitter followers this could mean anything, from illustrations and haiku to described poses in translation and anatomically accurate educational analyses of a pose).

The best response to each day’s challenge will win a signed book donated by Neil Gaiman, Philip Pullman, Joanna Trollope, Lemn Sissay or Joanne Harris.

Authors’ health and wellbeing

The yoga challenge is the first in a series of activities to promote the SoA’s new online wellbeing resources – www.societyofauthors.org/help – designed to signpost authors towards help with anything from their career and finances, to their health, mental health and general wellbeing.

The authors’ union, which provides one to one professional advice to more than 10,000 writers, illustrators and literary translators, created the resource in response to the many professional requests for help from members, which were often linked to or exacerbated by wider concerns, such as financial insecurity, as well as health and other wellbeing issues.

The resources cover six areas that authors often highlight when they approach the SoA for advice.

  • Links to urgent help and support
  • Career help
  • Finances
  • Relationships
  • Bereavement
  • Health and wellbeing
  • Grants, community and ongoing support

The resources are in addition to support the organisation already provides to authors.

The SoA has offered grants to authors in need for many years. They are now encouraging authors to apply for these contingency funds for a wider range of practical purposes, such as emergency home repairs, computers or funding to attend author events, not only when an author is on the verge of destitution.

The organisation runs a Writers as Carers Group, started in 2015 by author Jim Green, to help SoA members with caring responsibilities keep in touch with the community and keep creating. They meet online, in forums and via video meetups such as Google Hangouts.

And this year, most SoA staff have received mental health awareness training to ensure an extra level of understanding across the organisations of the issues faced by many of the authors they work with.

Poses and signed books

The yoga challenge will run for five days from Monday 7 August.

  • Monday – the best pose inspired by Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy will win a signed copy of Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere (new edition illustrated by Chris Riddell).
  • Tuesday – the best pose inspired by JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit will win a signed book from Joanne Harris.
  • Wednesday – the best pose inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice will win a signed book from Philip Pullman.
  • Thursday – the best pose inspired by Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows will win a signed book from Joanna Trollope.
  • Friday – the best pose inspired by George Orwell’s Animal Farm will win a signed book from Lemn Sissay.

Entrants should tweet their ‘pose’ (photograph, illustration, description, etc) with the hashtag #SoADoesYoga no later than Sunday 13 August. Winners will be announced in the week of 14 August.

The SoA assumes no responsibility for any injury or damage to persons or property which may be caused, directly or indirectly, from participation in the Challenge. Full terms and conditions here.