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Free Outdoor Yoga Draws Enormous Crowd in Inwood Hill Park

By Carla Zanoni | July 29, 2010 10:10am

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

INWOOD — Practicing sun salutations in front of the setting sun, a crowd of nearly 125 people enjoyed another evening of free yoga in Inwood Hill Park, provided by Bread and Yoga, the neighborhood’s only yoga studio.

Instructor Joanna Nobbe led the crowd of beginners and experts alike in their practice Tuesday night, inviting the group to incorporate urban sounds surrounding the park while taking in the natural beauty of the trees, grass and salt marsh nearby.

“Press your right foot back to where those children are playing...baseball?” Nobbe instructed the class.

“Open your heart to the train over there, toward Riverdale,” she later said, which inspired a giggle through the crowd.

Bread and Yoga, located on the corner of West 207th Street and Broadway, has been open since 2009 and owner Marcella Xavier said she began offering the free classes in the park in order to bring together the community and introduce the practice to new students in the area.

“Holding the class in the park exposes yoga to neighborhood people who normally wouldn’t try,” Xavier said. “And making it free breaks barriers for people.”

The Bread and Yoga free yoga classes take place every Tuesday evening in the park from 6:45 to 8:15 p.m. and will run until the last week of August, when the class will celebrate the end of the season with a potluck dinner intended for students to get to know one another.

Classes take place rain or shine, on the lawn or the studio, with Twitter or Facebook updates alerting students as to where the class will be held.

A limited amount of yoga mats are available for use, so students are asked to bring their own.

First-time yogi Anyela Perez grew up on Dyckman Street, between Sickles and Nagle and heard about the class from a friend.

“It seemed like a relaxing way of spending my time,” said the recent high school graduate, adding that she has been looking for a new way to relax, especially as she looks forward to her first year of college in the fall. “I know I need to find a way to meditate and just breathe.”