In Toronto, there is yoga in the park all throughout the summer. Whether you’re an experienced yogi, or you're simply trying it out, instructors usually plan moderate-level classes with plenty of variations for people of all fitness groups and abilities.
It is for these reasons I enjoy waking up early on a Sunday and walking to High Park on the city’s west end to enjoy strengthening and lengthening under the hot, humid Toronto sun.
There is positivity (and a lot of moisture) in the air, and the full hour of exercise makes you feel powerful. Another plus? Many of the meet-ups in Canada’s largest city are free or pay-by-donation classes. This means you give what you can, and you are still able to enjoy a fitness routine designed by a professional.
In short, outdoor yoga is great for your mind, great for your body and great for your bank account.
Still, there are many unusual things that occur when you take your practice out of the studio. Thus, I bring you the 10 thoughts I have during yoga in the park.
1. I’ve been staring at the clouds for the majority of this outdoor yoga class, and those things are moving pretty darn quickly. Is it going to rain? If I do another sun salutation, will that tell the sun gods not to let it rain on this outdoor yoga parade? Of all days to wear a white sports bra...
2. My weather app told me it was going to be really hot this morning, so I treated this outdoor class like I was going to hot yoga. (Aka, I drank a lot of water beforehand.) Now, I really have to pee, and I think I’m a kilometer away from the nearest port-a-potty. And now this instructor wants me to do what with my pelvis? Hold on, bladder.
3. I need to take a panorama for my Instagram, but it’s going to look like I’m photographing everyone because I like their Lululemon outfits. What if I pretend I’m sending a text message and slowly move around? Yes, no one is looking. Oh wait, he noticed.
4. The couple beside me brought their baby and dog to enjoy the fresh air, while they participate in the yoga class. That’s cute.
5. I left my glasses at home, and I didn’t wear contacts. I have my prescription sunglasses in my bag, but they’re just going to fall off my face. I can’t see anything across the field from me. It doesn’t help that the sun is shining directly in my eyes. I only hear, “Open up your hips, and let your ribs kiss the clouds.” Where is the instructor? Hello? Which hip am I opening? How do I open both hips?
6. Tree pose, okay, that’s a good one. I’m locking my eyes on one spot, and I'm bringing my foot to the inside of my thigh. Perfect. I'm still staring at the spot. No, there is not a bee flying around the circumference of my body. Ah, yes, there really is a bee flying around my body. Please don’t land on me; my hands are in prayer position. I can’t swat a bee while my hands are in prayer position! I am going to fall out of tree, and get stung by a hornet or whatever this thing is. Go to that person over there, Madame Bug.
7. I wish I could tell time by looking at the sun. I have no clock to stare at. Is time going by fast or slow? This is a first-world problem. I should stop complaining.
8. It kind of smells like poop. Oh my goodness, the dog beside me just pooped. Or was it the baby?
9. Yes, shavasana! I'm rolling back nice and slow, and now I’m on my mat. *Feels something crawling on arm.* Smack! I got that bee.
10. Namaste, everyone! Now, where is that bathroom?
Of course, these 10 thoughts lead to learned lessons. Don’t drink too much water before yoga in the park, wear contacts if necessary, and sport exercise gear that won’t make you look as if you’re part of a wet t-shirt contest should it rain.
May the light in me greet the light in you. Thank you for letting me share the experiences of my outdoor practice with you!