I read an article on NY Times about Frozen Yoga, or they called it “Snowga”, where people practice yoga in the snow. It’s quite funny. Here is the link.
OK. It’s a bit extreme, but I had a few other less intense experiences.
A few weeks ago I was assisting at a community yoga class. The event usually takes place at the park on a big open space on the grass, whether people will come with their mats and do an hour of yoga under the sky. The day before the class it was rainy heavily. So we moved the class to a sheltered space at the ferry pier.
It was not raining. But it was 16 degrees Celsius and it was windy. It was a new teacher first time teaching this community class. As I wondered how many people would show up, one by one came… some with their mats, some even just a big towel, and we ended having about 30 students. We did an hour practice and everyone was having so much enthusiasm. No one complained about the cold or the wind. Everyone had a good time.
As a teaching assistant my job was to walk around and align and correct the students an I was not actually doing any yoga. I caught a cold afterwards. When the class finished I couldn’t help but think… “Why would people come to class under this weather condition? It does not sound appealing to me at all!!”
Last weekend was slightly better. I was assisting another outdoor class on Sunday at the park after a heavy rainy day on Saturday. Although the sun came out the grass was muddy and wet. Still, it did not stop people from coming.
I came home and made myself a cup of hot tea… and I started thinking. I am lucky. I have a yoga membership and a gym membership in which I can take classes or workout anytime. But it’s not the same case for everyone. If you are just a beginner in yoga or exercise you do not necessarily want to commit to these memberships, and in Hong Kong these memberships are very expensive (thanks to the expensive rent here), and they usually make you commit to a long term plan (like 1 or 2 years). Not everyone can afford that or even if they can, are willing to put down that amount of money. And honestly if you are only going once a week it’s totally not worth to get a membership.
And there is more to that. In fact I found something in these community classes that I can’t find at a yoga studio. Most people go to a yoga class at the studio for “serious practice” or a workout. But at the community class everyone is more relaxed. They are here to hang out with their friends and have a good time. They bring their kids and roll on the grass. It’s an experience that you cannot get from a class in the studio.
It is so nice to see Hong Kong having more community classes carried out outdoors at the park, at the pier or at someone’s house. On a nice day if you go to the park you will see people doing yoga, bootcamps, tai chi.. everything.
Yoga is a great exercise for that because all you need is a mat. It should be accessible to everybody. No need membership, no expensive equipment, and you can do it anywhere. As rent gets more expensive, it’s harder to afford gym memberships or, as a business perspective, runs a studio.
Hopefully this trend will continue. Being fit and healthy should not be a “luxury”. Everyone should be able to do it.