On Wednesday nights, one can find several hundred yogis of all ages moving their bodies through a series of graceful poses in Appleton’s City Park.
They’re participating in Yoga in the Park, a program of the City of Appleton in conjunction with Empower Yoga, a yoga studio located downtown Appleton.
Suzy Weyenberg, co-owner of Empower Yoga began the program and leads the class. She was inspired by the free outdoor yoga classes offered in Green Bay.
Weyenberg says the response in Appleton has been “amazing.”
“We have had around 300-500 people coming weekly,” she says.
Elissa Carlson, 18, goes to Yoga in the Park. She’s been practicing for four years and says there’s a different atmosphere than in a studio.
“It’s a day and night difference practicing yoga in the studio versus practicing yoga in City Park. There’s nothing quite like feeling the wind on your skin, hearing the children play in the distance and smelling fresh air all while you’re doing yoga,” says Carlson.
“When I leave, I feel refreshed and it instantly puts me in a good mood. I always leave with a smile on my face.”
Weyenberg also extols the benefits of yoga practice.
“Yoga has many proven health benefits from lowering blood pressure to reducing anxiety and depression. It improves your circulation boosting immune function and mental focus. There are studies that have found yoga to help weight loss and even slow the aging process,” she says.
If you’re nervous about practicing for the first time, Weyenberg reminds us that “we all had a first class.”
“It is natural to be apprehensive, but I encourage people to give it a try. It truly is the science of wellness; some may even say the science of youthfulness. Take it at your own pace rest whenever you would like. There are no mirrors at most yoga studios, especially in the park, so you may feel more comfortable than expected,” says Weyenberg.
The free program is offered every Wednesday through Sept. 2 at 6 p.m. in City Park in Appleton.