Thursday, November 20, 2008

Sun Salutations at Runyon Canyon: Runyon's Free Outdoor Yoga in the Park

With a full-time job looming in my near future, I'm spending the last of my fancy-free freelancer weeks crossing off fun activities off my to-do list which have somehow remained undone despite my 10 month office vacation. Ever since I saw a grassy field full of down-doggers near the Fuller entrance while hiking at Runyon Canyon, I've always wanted to try a session of the outdoor yoga class.

The daily 10:30am classes aren't really advertised (my googling popped up a feature on and a Runyon Canyon Yoga myspace page but not too much else) so I didn't know if the class was even going to be on for sure when I showed up yesterday. I needn't have worried; when I arrived, about 50 other outdoor yogi's were already spread out across the grassy knoll with their yoga mats.

Who are all these people who can take a 10:30am mid-week class? Judging from the attire, it was an equal mix of wannabe actresses (bathing suits and skimpy boy shorts), college students (hollister &/or abercrombie sweats), yoga-lovers (shirtless guys in hemp-looking yoga shorts) and other random freelancer types (wearing a variation of my boring yoga uniform of workout pants from Target and a tank top.)

The green area is expansive so there's plenty of room but the entire field is on a slight incline so the yoga exercises are performed on a bit of a slope. I found the least steep patch of space and unrolled my mat.

Already appreciative over the fact that I'd be breathing fresh air during my vinyasas and looking up at a palm tree fringed blue sky during my up-dogs, I didn't have--or need--high expectations on the actual yoga class. Especially because, did I mention it's free? However, Nicole, our certified instructor for the day was really good; for beginners considering the class, she demonstrated each pose and routine and explains correct body placement and breathing rhythms in great detail so it's easy to follow along. For regulars/intermediates: the class was still challenging with optional advanced poses, and besides, crescent pose and warrior 3 is definitely harder when you're doing it on a 5% incline.

With distractions such as the picturesque outdoor scenery--and a few pesky bugs (not too bad but I'd imagine quite annoying in the summer)--this ain't you're typical new-agey, chi-balancing yoga class, but it was a fun way to add the sunny outdoors into the mix with yoga; the hour class ends with a savasannah where you're lying down with your feet on the grass and your face in the sun--how SoCal-style can you get?

The class was only an hour long, but it was good exercise. I saw a few ambitious types lace up their shoes for a post-yoga hike up the hill but I wasn't quite ready for a double-dose of Runyon yet and headed back to my car instead.

Runyon Canyon Yoga
Daily at 10:30am
Free! (well, they welcome donations, but at the end of the class I saw maybe 3 people out of the 50 drop a couple of dollars in the bag)
Fuller Entrance of Runyon Canyon
Parking: A total bitch. Allow an extra 10-15 minutes beforehand to find a spot.

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