First-ever Yoga in the Park

StoryImage( ‘/Images/Story//Auto-img-11828953708251.jpg’, ‘Image courtesy of‘, ‘The first “Yoga in the Park,” June 7, drew about 60 participants at Sinnissippi Park sponsored by Pranayama Yoga Studio, 517 E. State St.‘);

As a regular student of Pranayama Yoga Studio, I was more than eager to support their first “Yoga in the Park” event. A forecast of strong thunderstorms kept some away; however, 40-50 people were in place on their mats at the 5:30 p.m. start, and more than 60 were in the last count. As Sinnissippi Park’s Area 3 is not exactly a flat, studio-like spot, placing our mat was a challenge. This proved to be a bonus later in balance poses when we could ground our feet to mother earth, placing her humps under our arches and grasping roots with our toes.

Music was to be provided by the local artist David Stocker, a provider of musical educational services to Illinois schools through music camps. But, as it turned out, we were also the music, being asked to grab an assortment of percussion instruments. we began pounding, tapping and hammering away at our instrument of choice, reminding me of former First Night celebrations around the Fire and Ice display. Even though this part went a little long for my taste, it helped to put aside the mental baggage from that day’s pre-yoga activities.

The event was free, but donations went to Rockford Urban Ministries, so Director Stanley Campbell then explained his work and gave thanks to all attendees. Next came a short chanting session led by my former yoga teacher, David Shandelmeier. David’s white hair and beard make him look like a real guru. His mild, experienced voice lead us through a repetition of HA- RE- AUM, and though I am not proud of my singing voice, I sang along nonetheless and enjoyed trying to match David’s changing pitch and vocalizations.

We then got down to some yoga asanas (physical postures) led by teachers Claudette Pirrello, Una Ryan, Joan Hurd, Jennie Williford and Tami Bogard of Pranayama Yoga studio. Also joining them to teach was life coach Toni Wasson from Durand. The program was well planned with each teacher ending their particular asanas as the next seamlessly stepped in to move us further into more.

Although the wind kept us cool, it also made it difficult to hear some of the teachers’ instructions, so watching a neighbor helped to keep you in step. To me, there were more new faces than familiar ones in the group, proving that the yoga community of the Rockford area is more vibrant than I realized.

After the last asana, David Shandelmeier took over again and guided us through Savasana (final relaxation), a common end practice in all yoga classes. Lying on our backs, we were talked through the process of relaxing the muscles of our bodies and enveloped by the sweet sound of an Indian flute. And although some found relaxation challenging as big black ants walked all over our supine bodies, I guess that is something you have to embrace when doing Yoga in the Park!

from the June 27-July 4, issue

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