This past Sunday I attended an outdoor yoga class taught by Rise Yoga owner Kelsey Sperl at Sweet Birch Farm, 64 Sweet Birch Drive, off High Hill Road in Meriden.
Sperl said that Rise, 220 North Colony Road in Wallingford, has been offering more outdoor classes due to the preferences of her members.
The early morning sun beamed over the 21-acre farm’s dew-coated greenery adding to the tranquil atmosphere. Sperl played soft indie music through a small speaker placed at the edge of her mat.
She kept the volume just low enough for the natural sounds of the landscape to complement the tunes.
1. Practicing outdoors
Outdoor yoga offers many unique advantages to traditional studio yoga, especially as social distancing has become a priority in efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Members spaced their blankets and mats apart from one another at the base of the farm’s sprawling hills. Sperl said the outdoor class’ maximum capacity is about 15 people.
Sperl added that the early morning is an ideal practice time in the summer, as the temperature rises throughout the day.
Practicing yoga outdoors brings about a keen awareness of one’s surroundings and allows for a deeper appreciation of the stray ant that scurries across your mat or the humming of a dragonfly passing overhead.
2. What to pack
Sperl advised yogis to come prepared dressed in layers, wearing sunscreen, equipped with bug spray, and plenty of water.
Many yogis also brought blankets to create a barrier between their mats and the damp grass.
She added that you should pack a light-colored blanket for the top of your mat, “If you have a dark yoga mat it can get really hot,” said Sperl.
3. Staying grounded
Sperl said practicing outdoors is an excellent way to stay grounded.
The grass propped up our mats creating a shifting surface that required us to pay special attention to our footing as we progressed through the yoga sequence.
As we came into tree pose, which requires you to lift one foot off the ground, resting it on the inside of your rooted leg, Sperl said, “Trees are not rocks.”
She reminded us that we did not have to be perfectly stiff or see our imbalance as a lack of proficiency in the pose.
Sperl encouraged us to observe a tree among us to center our drishti, or gaze, while enhancing our understanding of what it means to emulate a tree.
4. Farm offerings
Sweet Birch Farm had a stand at the end of the driveway where visitors could purchase organic vegetables, honey, and skincare products.
The farm provides opportunities for volunteers and those who wish to learn more about organic farming practices.
5. How to get started
Sperl said beginners are always welcome and offered modifications when needed.
“Our classes are all levels, so we always, always encourage everyone to take it at their own pace” said Sperl.
For more information about Rise Yoga visit https://www.riseyogact.com/.
For more information about Sweet Birch Farm visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Farm/Sweet-Birch-Farm-938249766197571/