If there’s one thing I think all life shares on this planet, humans and animals included, it’s that nature brings us joy. Whether you’re a beach person, a skier, a bird-watcher, a dog-walker, a gardener, a car-washing enthusiast or perhaps a bicycle commuter– something about being outside while doing these activities really adds to your experience of them. Maybe even makes it.
In today’s world (and especially here near Toronto) we spend a lot of our time indoors. In offices, in cars, running from one place to the other. Shielding ourselves from the harsh elements. Getting minimal sunshine. Yep, it’s definitely February. We need some nature, but it’s so darn cold! And these chilly days have had me remembering the warmth and magic of teaching yoga last summer at the beautiful Terra Cotta Conservation Area.
Last year, in partnership with the Credit Valley Conservation Authority we ran the most successful yoga program in Terra Cotta’s park history called Sunset Yin Yoga in an effort to make the connection between people and nature more accessible than ever. Holding this weekly series in the forest, I became super aware of how much our sessions were enhanced by our surroundings. The winding roads to get there (just 30 minutes from Mississauga), the fresh air and trees and escarpment, the cozy cabin-like Watershed Learning Centre nestled in the trees with huge panes of glass giving the feeling of being outdoors even when we were inside, and the super heightened effects of mind-to-body-to-nature connection while in our yoga shapes. It’s the feeling of finding and reconnecting to our most essential selves, back in our most natural state.
Our natural state, a state in which we achieve homeostasis is a place where all systems of the body are in harmony and we feel completely content and accepting of our surroundings. The more time we spend in this rest-and-digest state activating our parasympathetic nervous system, the more we train our bodies and minds to stop defaulting to fight-or-flight mode and ultimately release chronic stress.
It’s a practice that benefits us long after we leave the mat, and it’s a practice that brings me so much joy to provide. To create a safe space, and a magical experience for people to come and reconnect consciously by becoming aware – whether it’s with nature, music, emotional healing, sharing or all of the above – is something we don’t give ourselves enough time for. After last summer’s Sunset Yin sessions and last fall’s Full Moon event that Marie Boulanger and I facilitated with yoga, meditation, a fireside sharing circle, intention-setting and bonding as a group, it become crystal clear that I had to provide more of these conscious events.
OK OK, let’s get to it! I’m overjoyed to announce a new program for 2019, the Nature of Yoga! This is a series of events held monthly at Terra Cotta Conservation Area, (14452 Winston Churchill Blvd., Terra Cotta L7G 0N9) with the first one, Self-Love Sunday happening just around the corner on February 17th.
The Nature of Yoga: Events by Month
MARCH 20: Spring Equinox Hike & Yoga Thaw
APRIL 27: Yoga Down to Earth
MAY 4: Mothers in Mother Nature
JUNE 22: Summer Solstice Sunset Yoga & Sharing Circle
JULY 20: Yoga and Plant-Based Picnic in the Park
AUGUST 24: Yoga, Nature Hike & Forest Bathing
SEPTEMBER 28: Doga Charity Event
*All proceeds will go to Adopt-A-Dog/Save-A-Life
OCTOBER 12: Full Moon Yoga and Intention Setting Ceremony
NOVEMBER 23: Yoga & Mala Bead Make-And-Take Workshop
DECEMBER 14: Snowga & Winter Woods Hike
*Details will be announced prior to each event.
Mark your calendars and give yourself just 2-3 hours every month to share the experience. I know Terra Cotta CA can feel a bit out of the way for some (especially those without a car). I know you need more than just a yoga class. Each event in this series will be a themed experience including hikes, workshops, sharing circles, special guests, refreshments and a take-home piece (with the exception of the charity event in September). Park admissions to Terra Cotta CA are included and parking is free. We will be indoors at the Watershed Learning Centre or in an outdoor pavilion depending on the month.
I hope to see you there!
With so much love and gratitude,