Northern Girl on… Community Yoga

I thought I had done yoga before. I thought I was somewhat good at it so I decided to give community yoga a try and this is what I found…

  1. I am terrible at yoga
  2. I am not very flexible
  3. I’m determined to get better at yoga
  4. I live in an excellent community (but I knew that anyway)
  5. After 2 sessions my posture is amazing! 

What is community yoga? – Community (or fundraising) yoga is a concept set up in my local area by the wonderful Neha Kadiyala. It takes place in the Docklands Water Sport Centre twice a week (Mondays and Wednesdays 6:45pm-7:45pm). It is known as fundraising yoga as the participants pay £5 to take part with the money going back into the centre. 

(The official poster for fundraising group yoga)
Can anyone do it? – The short answer is yes, the sessions are mixed ability and the instructor will always give an alternative stretch for those who may be struggling – like me, each session I’ve done – or a harder stretch – definitely not me after 2 sessions, but I’ll get there!

Do you have to do lots of complicated breathing activities? – Absolutely not. There are obviously some breathing exercises to relax you but then it is all about matching the stretches to your natural breaths. You will simply be told what to do on each inhale, what to do on each exhale and how many breaths you are expected to hold the stretch for – great for shallow breathers like me.

Is the group cliquey/bitchy like some group classes I’ve experienced before? Again, absolutely not. Everyone I’ve spoken to before and after the sessions has been so lovely and there’s always someone new coming along to give it a try. The instructor herself is lovely, never once feeling like you’re not doing good enough; she’s encouraging and gentle helping you to develop your yoga rather than feeling like a failure.

Do I need a yoga mat? – Yes and No. Having your own is definitely preferred and you can pick them up at a reasonable price at sports direct (I’m eyeing up the patterned one for myself) but if you don’t have one/forget to bring one Neha has a small supply available for use during the session.

(starting to get the hang of it by session 2. Photo credit Christina Wildman Mullet)
I caught up with Neha before my first session to find out what drove her to create Fundraising Yoga.

Firstly you instantly realise just how passionate she is. Her enthusiasm for health and fitness shines through, as does her excitement and pride in what she has been able to achieve so far. She gushes about future plans including PT sessions in the local parks and even yoga on a paddleboard in the summer! So I decided to get to know a little bit more about her heath journey.

She moved to London from Dubai and found it extremely difficult to adjust to this new life until she hit rock bottom. Thankfully she turned to improving and prioritising her health and was able to save herself. She began to research what was available and found a distinct lack in her local community, she knew what she wanted to do but it wasn’t out there for her to just join already. A lesser person at this stage could have easily turned and said “oh well, I tried” but not Neha; instead she founded running group Walk, Jog, Run – a local group aimed at getting people out for just 30 minutes a day to walk, jog or run at their own pace. Pets are welcome, children are welcome, even new mums with pushchairs can join the group daily at Millwall Park. The group was a HUGE success and she started bouncing around the idea of a yoga group (hailing from India, Neha was already well versed with the wonderful health benefits of yoga) and the idea was met with enthusiasm.

That’s where we are today and already she is looking to the next thing (I don’t think this woman ever stops, she credits her boundless energy to the incredible benefits of aloe vera gel). She has just launched a creche facility as some of the people interested in yoga struggle with child care, she’s in the middle of organising an international food festival as well as fundraising for cancer research, setting herself a target of hitting 10K steps EVERY SINGLE DAY of March – impressive work. It doesn’t stop there, she has a Walk, Jog, Run 5k event in the pipeline and a deal with a local catering company not to mention her work with the sailing centre and as mentioned earlier the planned PT sessions.

It’s evident that Neha’s policy is pure inclusion and she buzzes off that community spirit and I’m proud she’s converted me to a fully fledged yogi. So don your favourite yoga leggings, get practicing your “ohmmmmm” and give yoga a try.

(definitely still my favourite part – relaxing and reflecting at the end of a session. Photo credit Christina Wildman Mullet)

For more information on anything featured in this blog please use the links below or alternatively leave a comment with your question and your email address so I can personally respond. NG x

More information on the sailing centre can be found at www.dswc.org
Neha is a proud Forever business owner, more information about the work she does for community health and fitness can we found at https://www.facebook.com/groups/stayfitiodcw/
To sponsor Neha in her March 10k journey you can visit her sponsor page at https://fundraise.cancerresearchuk.org/page/livehealthylovelife

REVIEW: Northern Girl reviews Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre

Ever since I found out Andrew Scott was playing Hamlet I knew I had to get my hands on tickets – I was on a train to Paris FYI – so when a quick google told me it was all sold out I was devastated. Now, had we have not moved to London that would have been the end of that but when we read in to it in more depth we were delighted to know that the Almeida theatre hold back a small quantity of tickets for sale on the day. Tom works shifts so lucky for us (mostly me) he was able and willing to stand in a queue on every available weekday off. Day 1 (Wednesday) he arrived a little after 10 with the doors opening at 11, we missed out. Thursday, he arrived at 9am and jackpot; 2 tickets please.

The reason I was so obsessed with seeing Andrew Scott was because I had fallen in love with the Sherlock TV series. Tom was already a fan but I had seen none so in anticipation of S4 I gave them a go. I was hooked. As a result, James Moriarty (played by Andrew Scott) is now my favourite TV/Movie villain of ALL TIME. For reference also up there is Tiago Rodriguez (Skyfall) and Darth Vader (I’m a massive star wars fan).

Now I knew nothing about the story behind Hamlet all I knew was that the role is so iconic that I wanted to see how the man who became my favourite TV villain would portray this legendary character in theatre – not watching him through screens (or at least not expecting there to be screens) but experiencing him being there in front of me as Hamlet.

Whilst all this excited me, I was extremely concerned that Andrew Scott was now Moriarty to me and there wouldn’t be a lot that could change that. There are certainly similarities to be drawn from the two character profiles and it may be more that director Robert Icke wanted Andrew for that reason. The dark humour and quick wit certainly would be welcomed by Moriarty but there is no doubt at all that when he is on that stage Andrew Scott is out and out Hamlet.

I have never felt chills quite like the feeling I got from Hamlet’s moments of anguish. Think the sensation you get when you hear your favourite song and you get goosebumps, now imagine that 100x more intense and you’re almost there. Andrew’s portrayal sees him pin point the exact moments to lash out vocally and with the use of camera trickery and electronics that give an experience like no other, I certainly jumped in my skin more than I perhaps would like to admit. Although that feeling may also have been intensified by the almost claustrophobic feel of the Almeida theatre but having experienced it first hand I don’t see how any other venue would have suited this adaptation.

What caught me off guard the most however were the moments I and the rest of the audience were laughing out loud. Be it the charming playfulness of Ophelia and Laertes in Act 1 or the way Hamlet tortures and humours Ophelia’s father the way a cat would with a mouse. 

Maybe it’s because I have never studied Hamlet, maybe it’s because I’ve grown up since hating Shakespeare during my English Literature A-Level or maybe it is the stellar work of the director and actor duo but the wonderful and famous monologues are no longer exaggerated versions of the script – something Hamlet is quick to shut down himself with the players – but are emotional, thought-provoking and incredibly easy to understand. 

The relevance to adulthood finally explains why my tutors were so enthusiastic about The Bard’s work. “To be or not to be” when put into the context that it is by Andrew Scott has never been more emotionally spellbinding and it is these moments of revelation that make us experience warmth and empathy for Hamlet. The emotions that these monologues take us through are suddenly relatable on a multitude of levels. Be prepared for this adaptation of Hamlet to take you to the very dark places you try to forget; be it family bitterness, coming to terms and struggling with grief, denying yourself love because of personal issues, loneliness, a volatile temperament or simply experiencing suppression in your youth, whatever is relevant to you will reveal itself here but the audience interaction the director has created will wrap the entire theatre in a blanket of togetherness as you go through Hamlet’s journey with him.

(Even the programme captions the emotion – and yes that is green paper, that runs throughout).

Going into English teacher mode briefly, the symbolism of colour is very obvious. For a modern adaptation you will see very few primary colours, perhaps only really noticeably in Ophelia as the family conspire against Hamlet to seek out the source of his suffering. What you will notice however is the power of black and white. The first glimpse of this, though not really understanding until later on, is the Queen’s lack of white dress for her wedding (though this may also be used to reflect the fact that this is not her first trip down the aisle). It is also glaringly obvious when we see Hamlet in nothing but black clothing until Act 3 where he switches to white for a fencing battle and in Ophelia (also Act 3) as the colour white seems to epitomise her descent into a madness we have seen very similar before; perhaps caused by the exact same reasons.

It is without a doubt Hamlet deserves every single one of it’s stellar reviews. It is worth every single minute spent in a queue to get tickets and I only wish it was on longer so more people get to experience it. Hamlet has left me hungry for more Shakespeare and if like me, you fell out of love with him due to study, I would encourage everyone to go back and read his work as an adult (if you can’t make it to the Almeida Theatre before the 15th April).

Northern Girl on… Studio Recordings

  • Room 101 
  • That Thing on a Friday Night
  • Tim Vine Travels in Time 
  • Taskmaster 
  • Unspun with Matt Forde 
  • John Bishop in Conversation With… 
  • Jason Manford’s Big Heads 
  • Your Face or Mine 
  • The Unbelievable Truth 
You’d be forgiven for thinking I’d decided to list all my favourite TV/radio shows, but these are all the things I have had tickets to the live recordings of. They take place around various London locations and best of all they’re a great way to spend an evening in London without spending a penny.
(Meeting Ricky Wilson!!! at a Room 101 Recording)
How to get tickets?

A lot of the headlining comedians will post on social media when the tickets are available but there are certain production companies and dedicated sites that you can register for:
  • Hat-trick productions – producers of shows such as Have I Got News for You and Room 101. Visit https://hat-trick-productions.tickettext.co.uk/hat-trick-productions/ to apply for specific shows currently available and when first visiting, be sure to register to their mailing list for updates when new shows are released.
  • BBC Shows and Tours – shows such as Tim Vine travels in Time and A Question of Sport. Like Hat-trick productions, they have a dedicated page for all their current shows http://www.bbc.co.uk/showsandtours/shows/ or you can also join the mailing list to get updates direct to your inbox when new shows are released.
  • SRO Audiences – shows such as The Last Leg, The Graham Norton Show and Bigheads. Tickets can be found at http://www.sroaudiences.com/ with each show listed individually or alternatively their mailing list can be found on the “Contact Us” tab on their menu.                     
Getting to the studios
  • Elstree studios (Room 101, Big Heads, Unspun with Matt Forde etc.). Thameslink run a direct train service from Blackfriars and London St Pancras to Elstree and Boreham Wood and the studios are only a short walk away from the station.
  • Pinewood (Taskmaster etc.). Pinewood is not so easily accessible, with the nearest bus stop still being a 20 minute walk away, they do however have vast parking facilities available on site.
  • The London Studios (Loose Women, Your Face or Mine, The Graham Norton Show etc.) – On London’s South Bank, the studios are a short walk to Southwark (Jubilee Line); Waterloo (Jubilee, Northern and Bakerloo); Embankment (Northern, Bakerloo, District and Circle) and Temple (District and Circle).
  • Broadcasting House (BBC Radio Theatre, The One Show etc.). As one of the BBC’s HQ’s, Broadcasting House is a short walk from Oxford Circus Tube Station (Bakerloo, Central and Victoria Lines).
  • There are various other theatres and minor studios throughout London with short walks to the nearest tube. All this information will be provided when you receive tickets/confirmation of the shows.
Other tips

The shows are ALWAYS looking to fill the audience so you can guarantee that they will have allocated far more tickets than seats available. Even with a barcoded ticket you’re not always guaranteed entry. I would advise applying for as much as possible to give yourself options and remember, the tickets are free so whilst it is disappointing at least you’re not out of pocket!
The majority of studios will have security checks so pack light to ensure you get through quicker.
If your ticket has a ‘tickets validated from’ or ‘doors open’ time, aim to get there at least 30 minutes before that time, even if it seems like a long wait until the actual recording. Broadcasting House and Elstree both have onsite cafes/bars where you can get snacks and drinks and sit and wait for the show (you can even watch the BBC news room whilst you drink your coffee in Broadcasting House).
For tickets that are on first come, first served basis you will need to arrive at least an hour before the scheduled time.
If you do miss out, some of the shows such as John Bishop in Conversation With will allow you to re-register with priority meaning you are guaranteed entry to the next show of your choice.
(enjoying a coffee at Broadcasting House before Tim Vine)
NG x