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From the desk to downward dog; free yoga in Grand Park

By Hayley Fox
Published: Friday, December 07, 2012, at 09:07AM
Javier Guillen

The yoga takes place every Wednesday and Friday until Dec. 21 from 12:15 to 1 p.m.

As the Grand Park continues experiment with and expand its programming, its newest venture is free lunchtime yoga aimed at helping reduce stress during hectic holiday times.

Every Wednesday and Friday until December 21, yoga teacher Christel Joy Johnson teaches the 45 minute sessions of "gentler" yoga in the performance space between Hill and Grand. Johnson said that while she expected only 10 people at their first class, she was "floored and so happy" to get about 50; the second class was no different.

"There's definitely a need and a want," Johnson said.

Many of the yogis who participated were people taking a break from the courthouse, or passersby who happened to see what was going on and wander down. Johnson said the class is mostly stretching and relaxation (downward dog pose may not actually be included), and although she has a few loaner yoga mats, people are encouraged to bring their own if they have them.

Johnson said she tries to accommodate people all levels of yoga -- and received a lot of feedback after class thanking her for motivation to get up from their desks and move during lunch break.

Julia Diamond, director of programming at the Music Center, helped put this class together and said that physical, fitness-based activities were always part of the grand plan for the Grand Park. She said they aimed to create programs that would "activate the lunch hour" for Downtown residents and employees.

Diamond said they chose to start the program in the winter on purpose, because this is when people are extremely busy, have family in town and food everywhere.

"In this time of frenzy and stress for people, how can the park be of service?" said Diamond.

In addition to the stress relief, Diamond said that with the abundance of office jobs in Downtown where many people are stuck at their desk most of the day, yoga's a great way to fit in a little movement.

Although they haven't set the schedule yet, Diamond said they will most likely continue this lunchtime yoga program beginning in January 2013.

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