'Detoxifying internal organs' with free yoga fun every Tuesday in Newham
PUBLISHED: 17:50 11 March 2015 | UPDATED: 15:45 12 March 2015
"Your internal organs love you right now," yoga teacher Helena announces to a line of young professionals stretching themselves into impossible positions.
“This is a perfect detoxifying twist – it’s literally wringing out your body,” she added.
In my mission to get active I’m at a free yoga class hosted on a platform above the Olympic pool.
The hour long session includes positions such as the plank, dolphin, downward-facing dog and warrior.
I naively think it’s just a bit of stretching, but holding each position is a real challenge – and the steam rising from the pool makes it feel more like Bikram yoga which is practiced in a room heated to 40 degrees celsius.
My whole body is working and I realise the strength (and weakness) of my wrists and ankles as we’re ordered to balance.
But watching others hold the poise makes me determined to give this spiritual and ancient form of exercise a real try.
Helena Kaill, my yoga instructor for the evening said she got into it by going to lots of classes.
“I loved it”, she said, “because it doesn’t give you much time to think.”
She’s been doing yoga for more than four years and tells me there are hundreds of different types.
The class I took was a Vinyasa flow class which focuses on correcting movement and breathing, starting with some “salutations to the sun”.
Helena, 22, said: “We were doing deep stretches so it’s very challenging. The whole point of yoga is being really present here on your mat. It doesn’t give your brain a chance to wander.
“What you get from yoga that you don’t get from other sports is a lovely mind connection.
Our Parks slogan “turn up tone up” says it all.
The group exercise initiative aimed at people of all ages and abilities has been designed to get the borough active.
From yoga and hula-hooping to elite fitness and box fit there’s a class for everyone and they’ve been running in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and East Village since June.
Born Barikor, 32, CEO and founder of Our Parks set up the initiative and oversees all the classes.
He said: “Because Our Parks means the activities are all free it’s easier to do because it eliminates any cost barriers.
“We get lots of people that have been inactive taking park and joining classes and they get hooked.
“When you’ve been inactive for so long and you experience that post-exercise buzz it encourages you to do more, especially in the fantastic facilities we have here.”
Our Parks is a provider of the Active People Active Parks initiative which encourages local communities to make the most of their nearby parks.
It is funded by London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) meaning it’s possible for people to “get fit for free.”
“People who haven’t done exercise for a few years feel really disjointed from their body but this can really help bring you back in touch with yourself.”
Yoga is a safe sport for people with injuries, Helena tells me.
The practice originated in India about 5,000 years ago and has been adapted in other countries in a variety of ways.
According to Helena you can burn up to 600 calories in a “strong” yoga class. “It’s good for toning too,” she added.
“Whenever I want to get in shape I go on a yoga detox. You’re always engaging your core even though you’re not doing sit ups.
“Anything where your chest is higher than your head means all the fresh blood is going round your body and that means it’s going to cleanse your system.
“We were detoxifying our internal organs tonight.”
At the end of the session we lie down and take deep breaths.
I wish it wasn’t my favourite part of the class – but it sort of was.
That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it.
I’ve worked my body thoroughly, stretched in positions I never knew my body could stretch and I’m satisfied I earned the final rest.
If you’re looking to tone up for summer or get fit, yoga is the perfect form of exercise to ease yourself into physical activity.
I definitely plan to take advantage of the classes by the former Olympic pool more often.
Our Parks free yoga classes take place at the London Aquatics Centre every Tuesday from 7pm to 8pm.