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

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