An unlikely group of people

Leena here! As Yoga in the Park wraps up for the summer, I’m thinking back to what I love about this sweet outdoor class. My favourite thing is the weird mishmash of people who end up practicing together at this free event.

  • In the front you’ve got the retired folks who want to make sure they can hear my instructions.
  • Off to the side are the mom friends with toddlers who might need to bail for the playground halfway through.
  • In the middle are a few teenagers who just want to lay on their mats and work on their tans.
  • Somewhere near the back is a dude in jeans who was biking by and decided to join in spontaneously.

It is a merry, motley crowd, and to me it often feels like one of the most authentic expressions of Yoga. Despite who I see at Yoga in the Park, so many people still think yoga isn’t for them because online they just see images of acrobatics and tight pants. This couldn’t be further from the point of Yoga.

It’s been an uphill battle to counter the mainstream narratives of who belongs, but Yoga in the Park helps change the conversation. Yoga postures, or asanas, are just one small tributary in the ocean of Yoga. To me, the whole of yoga is about connection to all parts of ourselves and to something greater than ourselves. Yoga’s many paths offer us ways to integrate body, mind and spirit. And, most significantly in this world of increasing isolation, to connect more wholeheartedly into community with other humans and nature.

Our city parks are such refreshingly integrated spaces in our segmented society. I often spend the evening with my 3 kiddos at the playground in Victoria Park. I heardat least a dozen different languages, and my kids make fast friends with families of many different backgrounds.

Bringing Yoga into the park, and as a free event, expresses the true meaning of yoga as unity and invites more equity of access to yoga practice

The Branches has been honoured to partner with the City of Kitchener in this effort. After a two-year pause during the pandemic, we’re so grateful these classes came back this year, and we were thrilled to have expanded into two of our city parks this summer.

See you next summer for more outdoor, motley adventures!

With warmth and excitement,
Leena

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