May 12 – Yoga on the lawn
When: Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m
Where: 5410 Pine St., Flowery Branch
How much: Free
Learn more: facebook.com/FloweryBranchGovernment
Aspiring yogis in South Hall — or those who may be curious about the practice but have intimidation barred their way to a formal studio — can bring their mat to the lawn of Flowery Branch City Hall.
Led by yoga instructor Lynn Underwood of Winding Roots Yoga, Yoga on the Lawn is a weekly opportunity for aspiring yogis to engage in the practice without judgment, complicated poses, or financial fees.
“To be able to try something for free and maybe come more than once, you can be like, ‘Oh wow, I can do this, that works,'” Underwood said. “So much of this is really just about exposing people to yoga, introducing them to the love of yoga and the fun of yoga, and hopefully they’ll get some physical benefits from it too. Whatever you’re learning about yourself on your mat, you’re taking off your mat—whether it’s just learning to breathe, learning to completely relax for 10 seconds, seeing if you’re pushing your limits, or just plain learn to laugh at yourself.
At 55, Underwood said, she’s only been doing yoga for about six years. She became an instructor amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is certified in restorative yoga, yin and chair yoga, and breathwork, and will soon be certified in standup paddleboard yoga.
“I started later in life,” Underwood said. “My kids laugh at me and say, ‘You know, 10 years ago you made fun of people who did yoga.’ And now it’s like my love. I’m a teacher by trade, so when I immerse myself in something, I immerse myself.”
The 40- to 60-minute classes on City Hall’s lawn, tailored for beginners, are slow-paced and use a fair bit of stretching before introducing various poses, Underwood said.
For participants whose strength and mobility are not conducive to the movements, chairs are available, which Underwood says are perfectly fine.
“Yoga is an exercise, not a ‘perfect,'” Underwood said. “It’s not the Olympics, it’s not a sport, so you do it. Your joints and your muscles are all different. There’s nothing shameful or you-can’t-do-this-pose (about it), it’s just a way for you to make it your own practice. Everything is tailored to, ‘Let me teach you how to do this. That’s the goal and these are the steps to get there, and any of those steps are fine. You can stop at any of these steps or go a little further.'”
According to Flowery Branch events coordinator Renee Carden, the inaugural class on May 3 brought 48 participants onto the lawn – a mix of men, women and children, and it was a dream come true for Carden.
“One of my goals is that there’s always something happening in the city,” Carden said. “Bike clubs or yoga – whatever it is, I just want people downtown to make memories and love where they live. I enjoy seeing people smile and enjoy life. That’s always what’s in the back of my mind: helping create that sense of community.”
Cultivating a sense of community has been Carden’s primary goal since assuming her position in September, and she has found a kindred spirit in Underwood.
“Whatever we do, it’s about getting together on the turf, being together and having fun,” Underwood said. “If you can laugh with someone next to you, you have an instant connection to them. You may not know him at all, but you have that connection. It’s all about community.”
Yoga on the lawn begins at 6:30pm every Tuesday and is scheduled to continue through the fall. Participants are encouraged to bring a mat and bottle of water; For those who don’t have a mat, a beach towel will do.
Shoes are optional, Carden said, but donning a positive, doable attitude is highly recommended.
“Come with a great attitude, ‘I’ll just try,'” Carden said. “There’s no judgment on the pitch. There are some who say, ‘I don’t know how to do that.’ Well, neither do I. Just come and enjoy the night.”
Following a maxim of the late Dinah Wayne, Carden’s vision is to see the community nurtured by Yoga on the Lawn—and the Flowery Branch community in general—thrive where it’s planted.
“I want us all to thrive and grow with our city,” Carden said. “That is our hope – that we will have a community that people want to be in and want to be a part of. (A place) where there is something for everyone. Yoga isn’t for everyone, and running isn’t for everyone. The live music at the block party isn’t for everyone, but maybe the yoga class is something for you. That is my hope to have something for everyone in our city.”
For more information about Yoga on the Lawn and other community events, follow Flowery Branch City Government on Facebook.