The Sky’s the Limit: Yogis Head Outdoors | via NY Times
Outdoor yoga festivals and classes seem to be springing up all over these days…
This article from the New York Times delves deeper into the outdoor yoga trend, and some of the reasons it might be so popular. Enjoy!
ONE night early this month, hundreds of yogis accustomed to grounding to the earth figuratively did so literally, on the green expanse of lawn near Pier 63 along the Hudson River. Schuyler Grant of the Kula Yoga Project, a founder of the event, Wanderlust Yoga in the City, made in situ additions to the yoga canon, suggesting, “Reach your heart to the water,” and encouraging participants to try handstands on the forgiving grass.
Traditionally practiced outdoors, yoga obviously is not a hothouse flower to be confined to a studio, yet for years urban yogis tended to relegate open-air practice to retreats in places like Bali or Mexico. That began to change in recent years, and while an exact timeline of the New York outdoor yoga movement is tough to pinpoint, one of the early pioneers was Dana Flynn of Laughing Lotus, who started holding classes in a West Village park in 1997, moving them to a rooftop in 1999.
“We brought the boom box and had Annie Lennox and Al Green blaring into the open sky,” Ms. Flynn wrote in an e-mail. She runs free weekly sunset classes for 80 students on Wednesdays in a park at 10th Avenue and 15th Street near the High Line, a series that began in 2009.
These days, “we are basically in the growth phase for outdoor yoga; every year there are more and more options,” said Ben Fleisher, who helped develop the Yoga Local NYCiPhone application. “It’s at the critical mass where enough people are doing it, so it doesn’t feel weird to be outdoors.”
The Wanderlust event recently held near Pier 63, which blends indie rock and yoga, will be in six other cities this summer; it has already been held in a few. It is a three-and-a-half-hour edition of the weekendlong events held in remote areas, including Stratton, Vt., from Thursday to June 26.
“In New York, practicing outside is becoming more and more common,” said Jeff Krasno, another founder of Wanderlust and Ms. Grant’s husband.
What was once remarkable is now ordinary, as yogis colonize rooftops, beaches and public parks. There are outdoor classes, both free and paid, in every borough.
There is even surf and turf. Open Ocean Sessions holds Saturday classes, weather permitting, at Rockaway Beach that combine meditation, yoga practice, surfing and a well-earned taco at a local stand. Kristopher Krajewski, an organizer, says that the group practices on hard-packed, not “fluffy,” sand, and that a meditation shelter with Tibetan prayer flags is being built for shade from the sun.
“Ironically, the terrain being not as stable helps to focus our practice,” said Mr. Krajewski, who has a day job running a talent agency, Bond Music Group. “I’ve done yoga in Times Square, and it can be a challenge to find the stillness in the chaos. This is the ocean. It is humbling and easy to interconnect with nature around you.”