Charleston to celebrate International Yoga Day with community session

Alyssa Cravens, Staff Reporter

A free community yoga session will take place in celebration of International Yoga Day at the pavilion of Kiwanis Park on Friday.

The Eastern Academy of Lifelong Learning has partnered with local yoga instructor, Karen Reed, for the second year in a row for the free yoga session.

Reed said the holiday is an attempt to bring people together in the community and promote peace and healing through the ancient practice of yoga.

First proposed to the United Nations in 2014, International Yoga Day was signed into recognition by 177 countries and will be celebrated for the fifth year Friday, on the summer solstice, Reed said.

Around the world, people observe the day by participating in group yoga and meditation; many large cities offer yoga in the park throughout the day, and around 50,000 people are expected to participate in the festivities in India alone, she said.

Marita Metzke, director of the Academy of Lifelong Learning, said the association plans, schedules and provides opportunities for adults to participate in self-directed learning, where people can choose those topics and courses which appeal to them.

The Academy has provided community yoga events in the past, and the prime opportunity that International Day of Yoga presents inspired the Academy to offer it again, Metzke said.

Reed said this year’s yoga session will be accompanied by two local musicians—Stacy Doty and Jay Ferguson; they will be playing Native American style flute and drum music.

The music is important to the practice of yoga, as it provides the beat which guides the flow of movements and synchronizes to the heartbeat of participants, she said.

It is especially significant this year because the 2019 theme for International Yoga Day is the heart, Reed said.

The theme of the heart is up for interpretation amongst yoga celebrators, but Reed enjoys the idea of the universal connection in which both the beat of a heart and beat of the music can share, she said.

Reed has been practicing yoga for 20 years and teaching for the past five; in her practice, she said she tries to teach that yoga is both a mind and body experience and a meditative process reliant on remaining in the present moment.

Metzke said yoga is a powerful type of moving meditation, and she is passionate to promote it as a means to mental and physical wellbeing among adults and members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning.

Reed said the yoga session is a perfect opportunity for the community to connect.

“I think it’s important to have a time of community, and a time where we can lighten our hearts a little bit, put aside our differences or beliefs and just come together,” Reed said.

International Yoga Day will take place Friday at Kiwanis Park, with the yoga session beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Metzke said this is a free event open to the public—people do not need to be members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning in order to participate.

No registration is required, and the event will take place outdoors under the pavilion, rain or shine.

Reed said people are welcome to bring a mat, blanket and water; attendees are also encouraged to wear comfortable clothing they can move in.

The practice will be gentle and accessible to all ages; people of all athletic abilities who wish to participate, as well as those who have never practiced yoga before, are welcome and encouraged to attend.

For further information, contact the Academy of Lifelong Learning at 581-5114 or at [email protected].

Alyssa Cravens can be reached at 581- 2812 or at [email protected].