Practicing with the breeze on your skin, the sun on your face and your feet in the grass is intoxicating. It feels like freedom and for a lot of yoga students it really is. Entering a yoga studio for the first time can be intimidating especially if you’re not like the models on Yoga Journal Magazine. We all put a lot of pressure on ourselves. We think everyone in yoga class is going to be thinner, stronger, more flexible, more centered, more balanced than we are. Sometimes that’s true. Sometimes it’s not. Yoga teaches us to stay on our own mat and let go of your self-judgments. You gotta get there first, though.
Yoga in the Park is a low key way to get to yoga without all the fear and self-doubt. There are no mirrors. Your mat seems like your own private space and there’s Plenty of space. Not sitting mat to mat seems to calm the nerves of that first class.
I first took a class outside during a Yoga for Anxiety workshop. My students released, relaxed and SMILED during poses. Being in nature created a drastically different practice for them. One student told me later, “I was totally in the moment. I paid attention to my poses, but I also was constantly aware of how the sun felt and I could hear the kids at the playground across the street.” Being outside forced her to be mindful in a way she hadn’t experienced before.
I often smile at my students during savasana. I can’t help it. In their perfectly relaxed state they are like innocent children. When we’re outdoors, though, they are like angels. There’s a glow that a practice in nature gives us. There’s a peace and a connection that opens you and centers you.
I’ve also found that I attract a different clientele when I teach at the park. I reach people for whom nature is important, but also I teach many who might not come to yoga if it weren’t in the park. They’re shy or have anxiety, they’re nervous or just scared. These people just want to practice they don’t need all the trimmings.
The park makes it a communal experience it takes it away from the elite feeling of a spa or club or even a studio and makes it accessible to everyone. There’s no big fees, no stairs, no parking issues, no space issues. It never gets too full or too hot and sweaty. You never wonder if the person on the next mat farted. It’s true freedom.
If you haven’t taken a Yoga in the Park class which are often donation-based or free you should try it. They are in cities around the country and are offered for all types of practitioners. You may never want to practice on hardwood again.
Yoga in the Park, Salem, MA NOW-contact for dates and times.
Yoga in the Park, Lawrence, KS starting September 18th