'Practice, not perfect': These free, beginner-level yoga classes aim to foster community in South Hall – Yahoo News

May 12—Yoga on the Lawn
When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays
Where: 5410 Pine St., Flowery Branch
How much: Free
More info: facebook.com/FloweryBranchGovernment
Emerging yogis in South Hall — or those who may be curious about the practice but intimidation has barred the path to a formal studio — can take 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 emerging yogis to expose themselves to the practice sans any judgment, complicated poses or monetary fees.
"To be able to come and try something for free, and maybe to come more than once, you can go, 'Oh wow, I can do this, this works,'" Underwood said. "So much of it is really just exposing people to yoga, exposing them to the love of yoga, the fun of yoga, and hopefully they'll get some body benefits out of it as well. Whatever you learn on your mat about yourself, you take off your mat — whether it's just learning to breathe, whether it's learning to totally relax for 10 seconds, seeing if you push yourself to your limit or just learning to laugh at yourself."
At 55, Underwood said she's only been doing yoga for about six years. She became an instructor amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and is certified in restorative, yin and chair yoga as well as breathwork, and will soon become 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 used to make fun of people who did yoga.' And now it's like my love. I'm a teacher by trade, so when I dive into something, I dive into it."
Tailored for beginners, the 40- to 60-minute classes on the City Hall lawn are slow-paced and employ a good bit of stretching before introducing various poses, Underwood said.
For participants whose strength and mobility aren't conducive to the movements, chairs are available and, according to Underwood, perfectly OK to use.
"Yoga is a practice, not a 'perfect,' Underwood said. "It's not in the Olympics, it's not a sport, so you do you. Your joints and your muscles are all made differently. 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. This is the goal and these are the steps to get there, and any one of these steps is fine. You can stop at any one of these steps, or you can take it a little bit further.'"
According to Flowery Branch's events coordinator Renee Carden, the inaugural class on May 3 brought 48 participants to the lawn — a mix of men, women and children and, for Carden, a dream come true.
"One of my goals is to have things happening all the time in town," Carden said. "Bike clubs or yoga — whatever it is, I just want people downtown making memories and loving where they live. I get a kick out of seeing people smile and enjoy life. That's always what is in the back of mind: helping create that sense of community."
Cultivating a sense of community has been Carden's main objective since assuming her position in September, and she's found a kindred spirit in Underwood.
"Whatever we're doing, it's about coming together on the lawn, being together, having fun," Underwood said. "When you can laugh with somebody next to you, you have an instant connection with them. You may not know them at all, but you have this connection. It's just about community."
Yoga on the Lawn begins at 6:30 p.m.every Tuesday and is slated to continue until fall. Participants are encouraged to bring a mat and a bottle of water; for those who don't have a mat, a beach towel will suffice.
Shoes are optional, Carden said, but donning a positive, can-do attitude is strongly encouraged.
"Come with a great attitude of, 'I'm just going to try it,'" Carden said. "There is no judgment on the lawn. There's some who go, 'I don't know how to do that.' Well, I don't either. Just come and enjoy the night."
Borrowing a maxim from late resident Dinah Wayne, Carden's vision is to see the community fostered through Yoga on the Lawn — and the community of Flowery Branch at large — bloom where they're planted.
"I want us all to bloom and grow with our city," Carden said. "That's our hope — for us to have a community that people enjoy being in, that they want to be a part of. (A place) where there's something for everyone. Yoga's not for everyone, running is not for everyone. The live music at the block party's not going to be for everybody, but maybe the yoga class is for you. That's my hope, to have something for everybody in our city."
For more information on Yoga on the Lawn and other community events, follow Flowery Branch City Government on Facebook.
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