My Sunday morning was a bit surreal. I was at the Natural History Museum London at 7:30 and walked into the Hintze Hall as the very first visitor for the day – before the doors open to the public. To do yoga. Under a blue whale skeleton hanging from the ceiling. How amazing is that?!
When I started on my mission to do yoga and pilates in funky places around London, this event was one of the first I signed up for. Does it get any more funky than doing a plank in the main hall of Natural History Museum? I think not.
Hintze Hall and Hope
The first thing you see as you enter the museum is the skeleton of Hope, the blue whale mounted head-down in a feeding dive. It’s huge, yet it looks absolutely at home in the Hintze Hall.
Once I had placed my yoga mat on the floor of Hintze Hall and got settled in, I was able to relax in the space and also listen to the om sounds being played over the speakers by the East of Eden team. It was a soothing sound, reminding me of whale sounds, and it also got everyone in the right frame of mind.
The photo below really sums up yoga at the Natural History Museum, and you could see people in this exact pose throughout the morning:
East of Eden brought a whole team of instructors for the event. Vanessa Joy lead the vinyasa flow whilst another team member demonstrated the poses from the top of the staircase. There were also three instructors on the floor to assist the 150 yogis. This was in addition to Aimee Hartley who lead the energising breath work at the start, and Simone Salvatici who ended the session with a 15 minute gong sound bath. The sound bath was really spectacular. You can just imagine how the cathedral-like space of the Hintze Hall would magnify the sound and increase the healing sound vibrations.
I really appreciated the effort that Vanessa and Aimee put into their vinyasa and breathing guidance: they referenced the natural world, the architecture of Hintze Hall and the story of Hope, the blue whale skeleton. Every now and again we were reminded of where we were – just in case we forgot about the 4.5 ton, 25.2-metre long skeleton above our heads or had closed our eyes and could no longer appreciate the Victorian hand painted botanical panels in the ceiling.
At around 9:15 our yoga and sound bath had come to an end. Most people made a dash for the Cafe and the rest of us started our tour of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibit.
Wildlife Photographer of the Year
I had seen the winning photo and a select few of the other photos in the press, but newspaper or online images really can’t do the photos justice. Seeing the photos on display was so much better. And there are many more amazing photographs on display, than what we saw in the media.
For me the best photograph was “Snow Landing” by Jeremie Villet. You can see the intensely beautiful photo here. In fact his whole portfolio was astounding – I think any of the photos in his portfolio could (should) have been the overall winner.
I never thought it would even be possible to have access to the Natural History Museum before the doors open to the public, never mind doing yoga with 149 other people under the iconic blue whale skeleton in main hall! It still feels a bit surreal that I really experienced it.
I highly recommend yoga at the Natural History Museum. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.
Instructors: East of Eden instructors Aimee Hartley (breathwork), Vanessa Joy (vinyasa flow yoga) and Simone Salvatici (gong sound bath)
Location: Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London, SW7 5BD
Time: 08:00 – 09:15 followed by exclusive access to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition.
Price: £35 (which includes the entry to Wildlife Photographer of Year)
Date attended: 3 November 2019
Yoga mats provided: No
Yoga intensity: According to my Fitbit Inspire HR, I burned 191 calories in 70 minutes.
Good to know: Only two more dates available: 19 January 2020 and 29 March 2020. Book your place here.