Free yoga back at the beach in Oak Bay

Residents turn out to practise safely at Willows Beach Park on Tuesday nights

Free yoga is back at Willows Beach Park until Aug. 31. (Black Press Media file photo)

Free yoga is back at Willows Beach Park until Aug. 31. (Black Press Media file photo)

People are bending in the breeze at Willows Beach Park again as free yoga returns.

Now in its ninth year, free yoga in the Oak Bay park was on hiatus due to COVID-19 gathering restrictions.

With roughly 200 people showing this summer, about half the amount of participants prior to the coronavirus pandemic, the response has been great, said Jules Payne of Anja Yoga.

In a longstanding partnership with Oak Bay Parks, Recreation and Culture, Anja instructors lead July sessions, while Recreation Oak Bay leaders tackle August.

“There’s so much room at Willows, so it’s super safe in terms of physically distanced yoga practice,” Payne said.

She credits the creation of the free yoga sessions to a graduate of the Anja program, Pete Rose, who to this day works on the partnership.

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Accessibility is key to the success of the program, and Payne says over the years all ages and even multiple generations have participated. “No one needs to be an expert to come and practise.”

With mindfulness paramount to positivity and proven to improve mood and mental wellness, Payne is happy to see people out and enjoying.

“Practising in community is so important, particularly as we’ve been so isolated the last year and a half. Practising outdoors, people feel safe and they can relax,” she said.

Free yoga runs now through Aug. 31 on Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. at Willows Beach Park. Participants should bring a mat.

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Health and wellnessoak bayOutdoors and Recreation