Yoga in the park: Find calm relaxation and mindfulness at Hartman Reserve Nature Center | Local News

CEDAR FALLS – The mind-body connection is vital in practicing yoga, and what better environment for encouraging a sense of calm relaxation than being surrounded by forest. Hartman Reserve Nature Center is making the most of spring coming alive in the woods with a series of yoga classes and events this spring.

Yoga Aya Dancing Instructor Dani Eastman


On Sunday, the vernal equinox will be celebrated with a program of yoga and forest bathing. Beginning at 9 am, certified yoga instructor Steffany Kroeger will lead a program of gentle movement, breath work and meditation on the first day of spring. Connie Svoboda, certified forest therapy guide, will then lead a forest bathing session at 9:15 am

At 5:15 pm, Kroeger will lead a yoga nidra session for deep relaxation, which concludes with a planting ritual. She’ll also teach an hour-long program, “Laughter Yoga,” in preparation for April Fool’s Day on March 27. Body laughing is designed to boost the immune system and provide other benefits.

“Our yoga, Aya yoga dancing, forest bathing and sound bathing events and classes have all been very popular,” said Svoboda, Hartman’s development coordinator. “For people who haven’t been out here before, it’s a nice way to invite them out here and experience nature in a different way.”

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Beginning Wednesday, Kroeger will be teaching the 10-week “Yoga in the Park: Wellness Wednesday Morning Yoga” from 8 to 9:15 am in the Nature Center’s community room.

“There is so much beauty around us and a lovely walk through the woods from the parking lot to the Nature Center, and people can explore Hartman before or after class. The room has a glass wall of windows where we can look out into the 240-acre preserve and watch the seasons change and spring come alive, ”Kroeger enthused.

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Her first yoga class at Hartman Reserve last fall was well attended. “I primarily attract older people, both beginners and people who have been practicing yoga for years, but are living in an older body at this point. Mine is a gentle approach with lots of modification. ”

Kroeger has been teaching yoga for 15 years, although she began practicing yoga nearly 25 years ago. She developed her approach to teaching yoga after living for three years in chronic pain.

“This is not high-impact aerobics. Yoga is a holistic way to help ground you and be more connected in mind and body, and with the increase in depression because of COVID, there is a need for overall mental health right now, ”said Kroeger, who is also a mental health counselor. .

Beginners are welcome, she said. “I always encourage people to try. People may believe they aren’t going to be able to do it, but there are always modifications. Just showing up for yourself and making time to be with yourself for an hour, that commitment is beneficial. ”

Dani Eastman said Kroeger’s classes are “amazing. She’s very welcoming, educational, and empowering, providing many options to choose from. She really encourages us to honor what feels good in our own body. It’s a lovely, nurturing practice. And to have it surrounded by the beauty and peacefulness of Hartman is just a perfect fit, ”she explained.

For people who want a joyful body-in-motion experience, Eastman leads the “Yoga in the Park: Aya Dancing” class on the second Sunday of each month. Her next hour-long session will be at 3:30 pm April 10.

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Aya yoga dancing is a ‘joyful body-in-motion’ experience for participants.


Aya dancing has been described as a healing, expressive cardio-dance meditation practice. “Aya dancing is really about experiencing the joy of being in motion, being present in your body and moving in feel-good ways. It’s about being joyfully alive, mindful and free for an hour, ”said Eastman, who has been teaching movement for 23 years and Aya for 10 years.

“She makes it so easy, and you feel comfortable right away. There’s no worry if you’re bumbling around a little and bump into someone. We all just laugh and have fun. There’s the energy you have with people. It’s joyful, fun, we have a good time. It’s been life-changing for me, ”said Melanie Drake, one of Eastman’s students.

No experience is required. “You have the freedom to move at any intensity level, and there’s a blend of really simple choreography and bursts of free-form dance expression – a dance party,” Eastman said, laughing. “You can feel the music and let your body flail about, smile and laugh and giggle and be alive.”

For a complete listing of upcoming yoga classes and events, fees and to register, go to Space is limited.


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