by Kezia Bacon, Correspondent
It is morning on the river. The sun has risen enough to bring its warmth to the day. Trees sway gently in the breeze. Fluffy clouds dot the blue sky. An occasional bird flies by. Listening closely, we can hear water lapping at the shore. This is the setting for Yoga at the River’s Edge, a Saturday morning outdoor program that resumes June 9th for its 22nd season.
In 1997, as a newly-certified yoga teacher and board member of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, I wanted to create an event that would unite two of my favorite things: yoga and our local rivers. That summer, I led a series of six Gentle Yoga classes at various scenic spots in Marshfield, Norwell, Scituate, and Pembroke. I chose places that first and foremost offered a beautiful view of the North or South River (or a tributary), but that could also accommodate a large group of people and their yoga mats.
Yoga as a common form of exercise was just emerging in the 1990s. Unlike today, most gyms didn’t offer it. Dedicated yoga studios were few and far between. Yoga was the kind of thing you might just as easily find in a rented church hall or community center. It hadn’t attained its present popularity. It certainly wasn’t considered an outdoor activity.
But it was summer . . . and the North and South Rivers are so peacefully inviting in summer! Especially when the marshes have turned green, and the trees along the riverbanks are in full leaf-out. What a great way to begin the day – rolling out a yoga mat in a scenic spot, spending an hour relaxing, and stretching, and breathing deeply. Would people actually attend these classes? Would they mind putting their yoga mats on the grass or the forest floor? Would they be scared off by the threat of bugs? What did we have to lose? We decided to give it a try.
We met at the Indian Head River Reservoir, on the Hanover-Pembroke line, where a large expanse of lawn, bordered on one side by woods, overlooks the Indian Head River and its fish ladder. We met at Couch Beach in North Marshfield, in a cathedral of tall pines, on an upland that offers a panoramic view of the North River and its marshes. We met at the Norris Reservation in Norwell, at a little clearing in the woods, a stone’s throw from Second Herring Brook.
We met on the lawn of the Marshfield branch of the YWCA, a secluded spot that overlooks Little’s Creek and the mouth of the North River. We met at the Driftway Conservation Park in Scituate, both on a grassy rise, and on a wooden dock beside the Herring River. And we met in the Rexhame Dunes in Marshfield, in the sand at the edge of the South River. Luck was on our side. Not one of these classes was rained out.
Something about Yoga at the River’s Edge appealed to people. Right from the beginning, we attracted a respectable number of students – not too many, not too few. Attendees commented on how gorgeous the locations were, how they might not have ever visited them if not for this series. They also remarked on how good it felt to do yoga outdoors, in a natural setting. The bugs, for the most part, held off. And so, year after year, we continued to offer these classes.
In the two decades since Yoga at the River’s Edge began, I’ve welcomed seven additional men and women – all certified yoga instructors — to the River’s Edge team. We each have our favorite places to teach, and we take turns doing so throughout the season, which now extends throughout the entire summer – mid-June to mid-September. We all feel fortunate to be able to lead these classes, gathering with fellow yoga practitioners at some beautiful spots along our local waterways. Plus, it feels good to give back – to support the North and South Rivers Watershed Association with the proceeds the donation-based program generates.
On behalf of the Yoga at the River’s Edge team, I hope you will consider joining us this summer. The season begins June 9th at one of my favorite places on the North River – Couch Beach in North Marshfield (access via Couch Cemetery, 629 Union Street). Join our mailing list by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Or like “Yoga at the River’s Edge” on Facebook.
Kezia Bacon’s articles appear courtesy of the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, a local non-profit organization devoted to protecting our waters. For membership information and a copy of their latest newsletter, contact NSRWA at (781) 659-8168 or visit www.nsrwa.org. To browse 22+ years of nature columns, visit http://keziabaconbernstein.blogspot.com