Editor's note: This article was published in Grand Traverse Scene magazine's Summer II 2019 issue. Pick up a free copy at area hotels, visitor's centers, chambers of commerce or at the Record-Eagle building on Front Street. Click here to read GT Scene in its entirety online.
Renew body, mind and spirit this summer by uniting your yoga practice to nature. Outdoor classes offer opportunity to partake of Mother Earth’s sensory feast to nurture serenity, fitness and joy.
Instructor Rebecca Kalajian partners with wineries and Yen Yoga to lead Yoga in the Vines sessions at Black Star Farms in Leelanau County and Mari Vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula. Classes modeled after those in California’s Napa Valley wine country fuse the pleasures of gentle exercise with the region’s stunning scenery and social wine tastings. Kalajian said the experience engages all senses to create an endorphin explosion.
Slowing down and taking energy from the land, sun and yoga postures reawakens sleeping parts of us, she said.
“When was the last time you laid on your back looking up? You realize how much you miss it,” Kalajian said. “People say they feel like a kid again.”
Yoga in the Vines takes place at the top of Black Star’s terraced vineyards July 28. Sessions run Sunday mornings through August at Mari Vineyards on Old Mission Peninsula. Or greet the morning at Mari with Sunrise Yoga Fridays in August.
Kalajian will lead a one-day session among the blossoms in August at Harbor View Lavender Farm on Old Mission Peninsula.
“Lavender is known for its relaxing properties,” she said. “Once you’re in it, it takes you to another level as you see bees working and feel the effects of sun and wind — all senses are enjoyed.”
The event is coordinated with peak bloom, so watch the farm website for the session date announcement.
You’re never too young or old to benefit from al fresco yoga, according to local instructors. Sarah Townsend leads sessions for all ages at Hull Park and East Bay Park. She said the park classes offer young people an alternative to typical youth athletic options.
“Sports can be so competitive,” Townsend said. “It’s nice to do something based on their own body and movement.”
Yogis of all ages take to Glen Haven beach in Leelanau County at 10 a.m. Friday mornings through Aug. 9. The classes by Yoga on the Beach and Friends of Sleeping Bear Dunes offer stunning views to which to bend and stretch.
For those a bit older, Traverse City Senior Center offers gentle flow yoga led by Jeana Seidelman. As many as 25 center members and non-members gather along the shoreline each week through the first week of September to exercise to the soothing sound of lapping water.
“It’s outside. It’s fresh and refreshing,” Seidelman said. “You’re in the sand and it’s a different challenge to the balancing mechanism.”
Standup paddleboard yoga is one of physician Jacqueline Moore’s favorite summer activities. Like beach yoga, she said, SUP yoga fosters balance.
“It’s excellent for improving balance and coordination skills,” Moore said. “On water, it’s a little trickier, more challenging, but more rewarding.”
Moore joins Paddle TC guided morning sessions along West Bay from Clinch Park.
“We all live very stressful, busy lives,” she said. “SUP yoga gives you an hour in nature and on the water. You’re completely removed from everyday stress to focus on yourself and your energy.”
She said SUP yoga is more about breathing and letting go of tension than about performing complicated poses.
“Don’t be afraid to give it a try,” she said.