What’s old is new again when it comes to yoga, a more than 5,000-year-old practice of body posturing and simple meditation that’s still evolving, expanding, and picking up followers — in Toledo, perhaps, more than ever.
“The yoga community continues to expand daily in Toledo,” said Leslie Chapman, owner of Toledo Yoga in West Toledo. “There’s just more and more awareness of the benefits of it, the science behind it, that’s hitting mainstream news and social media outlets.”
“We just celebrated our fourth anniversary here, and our members continue to grow and grow and grow,” she continued, referencing her studio. “Every level, every age, every economic bracket. We see moms coming in with babies all the way up to seniors who are practicing at all levels. It continues to expand. It’s becoming part of people’s lives, not just as a practice, not just as a form of exercise.
Margaret Penn, who owns Yogaja Yoga in Cricket West Shopping Center, speaks similarly.
“Yoga has just become part of what many people do,” she said. “It’s not just sort of these outliers. I think there’s a lot of guys doing it, there’s a lot of athletes doing it, and everybody in between. It works for young people, it works for aging people, it works for people at the top of their physical game, and it works for people who have physical impairments.”
“There’s something that can speak to everybody as it pertains to yoga.”
What: ONE Yoga Festival
When: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 9. A Sound-Off Yoga and Rooftop Kickoff Party is 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Sept. 8.
Where: Promenade Park, 400 Water St.
Admission: $20 in advance online or at Lululemon, 3410 Secor Rd., or $30 at the door. Pre-party, aerial, and stand-up paddleboard require additional tickets.
That popularity is reflected in the ONE Yoga Festival, a first-time event in Promenade Park on Sept. 9 that’s tapping into recent momentum in a by-no-means-recent trend. Sponsored by ProMedica and organized in coordination with 17 local yoga studios, the festival is expected to draw up to a 1,000 yogis and newbies with a wide variety of classes, workshops, and demonstrations between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. It also serves as an introduction and fund-raiser for the ONE Yoga Outreach Program, a newly forming collaboration between area yoga studios that’s intended to make instructors and equipment more accessible to the community.
Tickets are $20 in advance online or at Lululemon, 3410 Secor Rd.; they’re $30 at the door. Some classes require additional tickets. For more information, go to oneyogafestival.com.
Yoga is identified as a top fitness trend for 2018 by the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, which surveys industry professionals each year. It moves up slightly this year to No. 7, although it’s been fairly steady among the top trends since 2008, when it first appeared in the survey that began only a dozen years ago.
Authors acknowledged the consistency of yoga in their write-up of the survey, concluding that “the sustained popularity of yoga seems to be that it reinvents and refreshes itself every year making it an attractive form of exercise.”
Trends that have taken off on social media in recent years speak to some of these reinventions: consider beer yoga, in which it’s practiced with a brew, or goat yoga, in which it’s practiced in the company of friendly farm animals. Local owners and instructors said that if these quirks are the elements that attract a person to yoga, that’s great.
“To each their own,” said Maribeth Phibbs, an instructor at Tonic in Maumee. “The true practice is about getting in touch with your sense of yourself and doing things that are good for your body, your mind, and your spirit. So if a goat makes you laugh and have fun, I say that’s good for your body, mind and spirit.”
But Ms. Phibbs and others also point out that there’s plenty more than these gimmick-y variations when it comes to yoga. That’s reflected in the offerings at several local studios and, on Sept. 9, at the the ONE Yoga Festival.
A yogi can start the day with All Level Power at 9:30 a.m., transition into high-energy Buti Yoga at 11:45 a.m., and then ease into the more sedate Slow Flow at 1:45 p.m.; Yin, accompanied by the Toledo Symphony Quartet, caps the day at 3:15 p.m.
Aerial classes led by Bird’s Eye View Circus and stand-up paddleboard classes led by Sally Lyons are offered in multiple sessions throughout the day. Each requires an additional ticket, and availability is limited.
And that’s not to mention the slew of offerings inside the adjacent ProMedica Steam Plant. That encompasses smaller-scale yoga classes — chair yoga, adaptive yoga, acu yoga, partner yoga, and more — as well as wellness workshops, healthful eating demonstrations and other not-specifically-yoga extras that round out the festival.
In a “silent disco” Hula Hooping area, for example, attendees can don headphones and gyrate to the beat of their own tunes. Or they can pop over to a grassy area of the park to try out springy footwear known as Kangoo Jumps.
The inspiration for the ONE Yoga Festival lies in a smaller scale and more spur-of-the-moment festival organized by Ms. Penn and Yogaja Yoga in Wildwood Preserve Metropark in 2017. Ms. Penn said she was surprised to see more than 450 people turn out; it suggested, to her, an interest in a festival like the collaborative one that’s come together this year.
To bring on ProMedica as a sponsor was key, she and others said. Randy Oostra, the health-care company’s president and CEO, said in a statement that the yoga festival aligns well with what the health-care company aims to do in the community.
“ProMedica is looking forward to collaborating with several local yoga and fitness studios to bring the inaugural ONE Yoga Festival to Promenade Park,” he said. “This fitness and healthy living event aligns perfectly with our mission to improve health and well-being in the communities we serve. Plus, it offers yet another opportunity for people to experience the riverfront revitalization in downtown Toledo.”
Organizers hope to sustain the momentum of the yoga festival, anticipating a reprisal in 2019 and, prior to that, the launch of the ONE Yoga Outreach Program. The idea is that the outreach program will make available both the equipment and instructors that social service agencies and other organizations are already requesting through individual studios. In centralizing these resources, it’s hoped that the program will extend the reach of yoga in the community.
“We field a lot of phone calls at our studio, as well as all the other studios do as well,” said Ms. Chapman, whose studio, for example, offers a class in conjunction with the Victory Center. “There’s always a need.”
“Our hope,” Ms. Penn said, “is is that we will be able to bring yoga to underserved members of our community.”
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