Getting in touch with the mind and spirit

Yoga in the Park continues to draw attendance

CONTRIBUTED PHOTO The seasonal Yoga in the Park, sponsored by the 13th Street District and Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA, is aimed at yoga lovers of all ages and abilities. Sessions are held select Saturday mornings from 8-9 a.m., with the next session slated for July 8. Sessions are held next to the “Echo” public art sculpture, and are free of charge.

Birds chirping, the sun shining and the cool morning air all combine to create a relaxing atmosphere for attendees of the 13th Street District and Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA’s free Yoga in the Park series, held outdoors in the 13th Street District select Saturdays from 8-9 a.m.

“It came about after the first ‘I Give a Damn About Marshalltown’ meeting was held, and an interest was expressed in offering public yoga classes,” said Yoga in the Park instructor Heidi Draisey, who serves as the Y’s health and wellness coordinator and is a YogaFit certified teacher. “Yoga in the parks was booming in other cities, and I was needing to offer a certain amount of hours of free public yoga [for certification] so it worked out well when this started three years ago, and it continues to grow.”

The yoga sessions are held outside in front of the “Echo” sculpture in the 13th Street Plaza. The location is a win-win situation, as it allows for those who practice yoga to do so in a wide open space. It also draws folks into the 13th Street District to shop local.

“Yoga has really become more mainstream and not just a “Hippie thing,'” Draisey added.

She noted how practicing yoga has been shown to be a useful way for people to cope with mental and physical illnesses and stresses.

The yoga sessions are designed for those in the beginner and intermediate levels of proficiency, although anyone and everyone is welcome to participate. They are taught by a team of rotating Marshalltown Y Certified YogaFit and Good Fitness instructors, consisting of Draisey, Denise Case, Ben Cooper, Monica Blanchard and Ellen Krogmann.

The next sessions will be held July 8 and 22 and Aug. 12 and 26. Draisey always leads the first session (which was held June 3) and the final one.

Of note is the chance for participants to win raffle prizes, sponsored by 13th Street businesses.

“Anytime somebody comes to the sessions, they get entered into a raffle, and the winners will be announced during the last session, and must be present to win,” Draisey said.

People new to yoga or those who are trepidation about trying it are especially encouraged to participate in these free sessions.

“If you are not very flexible or have bad balance this is a good way to start,” Draisey said. “You don’t have to be able to do the complicated poses you have seen; those take a lot of practice.”

The sessions are geared towards those ages 14 and up. Youth ages 10-13 may come accompanied by an adult, whereas younger kids are discouraged from attending.

“We used to offer the sessions into the fall, but we found that in September it started to get too cold in the mornings to be comfortable, and then people are busy with fall activities like football season,” Draisey said.

Attendees are encouraged to bring yoga mats (a limited supply with be on hand), strap or block and a water bottle. In case of inclement weather, call the YMCA-YWCA at: 641-752-8658 after 7:15 a.m. the day of the event to see if it has been canceled.

For more information, contact Draisey at: 641-752-8658, ext. 222 or