Daley Park Yoga puts 'om' in Tempe

Daley Park Yoga founder Astara Robinson was quick to think of a way to form community and practice yoga in Tempe. After Mill Avenue yoga studio Love Life closed three years ago, Robinson struck out on her own to keep teaching in Tempe.

"I got approached by a few other teachers and they were like ‘Can I teach in your outdoor yoga studio?’ and I was like, ‘My outdoor yoga studio? What are you talking about? Yes you can teach here.'"

There are many different kinds of classes offered, with each teacher specializing in different parts of yoga and covering areas like balance, flow and meditation, Robinson said. The meditation parts of her classes are easily accessible to anyone who wants to give it a try.

"Helping (students) find certain words that they can repeat over and over again to anchor their mind, and then at the end there’s a short meditation practice," she said. "Even if they’re newer to meditation they’re not overwhelmed."

If you want to attend a class, show up at one of these times (after checking the community's oft-updated Facebook page) and look for a red bin that signals the presence of a teacher.

ThIs WeEk'S PARK YOGA ScHeDuLe!!::MONDAYs at 6-7:15pm:: Rhythm and Flow with Kelli::WEDNESDAYs at 5-5:45pm:: QiGong...

Posted by Daley Park Yoga on Monday, February 8, 2016

The outdoor nature of the community mirrors the free-spirited donation policy for every class. Although the class is free, some people donate $4 or $5 and others sometimes tuck $20 into the receptacle that each teacher provides.

"The karma in it, it’s more than I could ever ask for," Robinson said. "We have some people that show up and they’re like ‘I don’t have anything’ and I'm like ‘Don't even tell me you don’t have anything, that’s OK.’"

She said that an important part of building a strong community is allowing people time to socialize outside of the classes held in the park.

"Yoga people are awesome, but they don’t get to talk to each other in class," Robinson said. "I wanted something where we could go hiking or salsa dancing or we went to a garden, Singh Farms, so it’s just little random things that whatever people in our community are interested in, I’ll just organize it."

Other times, Robinson said Daley Park Yoga will organize classes called "give backs" and donate to United Food Bank or the Sojourner Center in Phoenix, with each nonprofit day not accepting donations and drawing about 20 to 25 people each time. The group is looking for other local nonprofits to dedicate a day to, as well.

Since the group's formation, classes have grown to at least one each day. Robinson said classes run February through May, and then again in the fall, with a break during the colder months. Classes are held at usually at 6 p.m. on weekdays, as well as 7 a.m. during the work week. Weekend classes begin usually at 10:30 a.m., but are moved earlier in the day as the desert mornings begin to heat up.

Kelli Watkins, who teaches on Mondays in Daley Park at 6 p.m., has been with Daley Park Yoga since the first season. She said she loves the community aspect of the classes.

"What inspires me to keep teaching are the people that I get to meet every day and the people I get to meet through what can be very personal experiences," she said. "I enjoy really being able to get to know my community a little bit better and form roots that way."

Watkins said she does yoga to become a happier person. She also praised the very low bar of entry to becoming a part of this unique yoga experience.

"When we’re happier people, we do better in life," she said. "So to be able to offer something to the public in the way that we do in a very unique way that we do — which is having yoga outside in the park — it allows for the inclusivity of everyone to come and join. We’re not limiting to anyone."

Sarah Robinson, who’s been attending Daley Park Yoga since last spring, has visited both Robinson and Watkins’ classes during the spring and fall season. Robinson has also attended a give back, and enjoys the community-centric nature of the yoga practice.

“I think that it’s the dedication of the teachers and they’ve also developed a really good practice themselves and when they share that themselves it’s great energy from them,” Sarah Robinson said. “They’re super positive and they’re very community-oriented, which is really nice, but their classes are also challenging for people who aren’t beginners, but also easy to follow.”

Sarah Robinson also said she was impressed with the types of practice that the teachers put on each week.

“I’ve never come away from the class feeling injured or anything I just always feel good and challenged,” she said.

Related Links:

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Tell the reporter your meditation words at pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow @peternorthfelt on Twitter.

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