I have been away from my blogging post for over a month now, and I miss it more than I thought I would, almost as much as I missed my old yoga community (sangha), when I moved to Toronto last winter. The initial plan for my yoga classes this summer was pretty simple, I want to be outside at all possible moments, and I can't afford to rent space at a yoga studio: solution, a pay what you can/with what you can, all-levels, drop-in yoga class in the lush grass of Trinity Bellwoods Park. The result: I wasn't the only one who loved the idea, and I have taught some of my biggest yoga classes since moving to Toronto.
My yoga sessions in the park, with the ever-so-classy title: Green Grass, Nice Ass, to lighten the sometimes all too serious nature of the practice, came with an added bonus: sangha. Despite my belief that I had to join a yoga studio in Toronto to find a new community of like-minded yogis, the trees, sky and summer breeze gave me some of my strongest yoga bonds in this city yet.
I say this because space has such a huge impact on interaction. Doing yoga in the park means that instead of rushing off to clear the room for the next scheduled class, we can roll up our mats and share watermelon slices, and talk about our yoga practice, what it means, what it gives us and how it challenges us, one of my students left a lasting impression one day with his reflection that yoga, like art, is all in the doing, in the process, and that is the fruition.
My park yoga sangha also shares talents and skills. One of my students sold us some amazing handmade natural lip-gloss one day, while another knit me yoga socks (toe and heel-less wonders!) as payment for class. My little yoga sangha has connected make-up artists with brides, and photographers with nutritionists, forged some new friendships, and made small-world connections. This is what feels very special about the creative use of public space: there are no guidelines, you can re-invent the concept and social boundaries of a yoga class in any way.
And by virtue of working in a wall-less yoga studio, I have the benefit of free advertising. It's always interesting to see how different dog-walkers and park-strollers react to our yoga class, and I've even gotten a few new students by virtue of our flexible spectacle!
Kripalu Yoga in Trinity Bellwooods Park continues to the end of September. Meet us at the Queen Street Gates at 6pm every Wednesday for a sunlit stretch session while the weather lasts!