Yoga in Your Park

Montrealers tend to make the most of their summers; Montreal yogis no less so, as dozens of yoga classes head outside to practice in the open air during our short but precious summer season.

Nathalie Keiller, who has held classes in various parks over the years (including my first class in a park, many years ago), says: “The park is perfect for a flowing class. Postures are very different in the open air, where you have no walls, just open space. When you open your arms in any posture, you can feel the energy of nature.” The theme of staying in your centre is very appropriate, since there are more distractions, she adds. “We don’t take ourselves as seriously, and have a lot of fun in our practice.” This year she offers her outdoor class in Parc Sir-Wilfrid-Laurier in Plateau Mont Royal, Tuesday mornings from 10:30 AM to noon, and Wednesday evenings from 6:30 to 8 PM. The classes cost $15 and run from June 29 to August 28.

“It’s a joy to practice outside,” says Kimiko Fujimoto of Studio Breathe, who offers a Saturday 10 AM yoga class along the Lachine Canal, near the Atwater Market. Kimiko’s class is a Karma class, with a suggested donation of $5 to the David Suzuki Foundation. “This way, we can practice in nature, and make a donation to nature.” If you don’t have money, just come anyways, she says. This class begins Saturday June 20, and on that day the class will be an hour earlier, at 9 AM.

At Luna Yoga, the sun is saluted each Sunday morning in the park, starting Sunday, June 14, from 11 AM to 12:30. As Jennifer Maagendas puts it: “Yoga is the practice of reconnecting with the earth, sthira sukham asanam: the connection to the earth should be steady and joyful. What better place to find that connection than amongst the trees, birds and greens of Old Montreal?”

Meanwhile, in Benny Park in NDG, Malcolm McLean (your devoted webmaster at yogamontreal and author of this newsletter) offers a Thursday 6 PM class starting June 18 and running to August 13 ($13 per class). I have been offering this class for several years now. I have found the outdoor yoga experience to be exhilarating and energizing. There is a special challenge in balancing. The first time I took a triangle, for example, I found it almost vertiginous, with my gaze (drishti) lost in the open sky, until I was able to establish new visual references; this eventually made my balancing postures more steady in all situations, including indoors.

When you are enjoying yoga in the park, people in the park are also enjoying your practice. This quality of presenting yoga to the world (without getting distracted or egotistic about it) adds another dimension to yoga practice in the park. As Nathalie says: “it’s like a jewel on the face of the city to see people coming together and concentrating deeply on this practice of awareness of their bodies.”

Practicing outdoors, you can step out of your ordinary self, and just be the yoga practice: for yourself and for the world around you.