On a sunny Sunday morning in June, I found myself sitting on a yoga mat in UBC’s Botanical Gardens. After rushing to the gardens because of an unknown half-marathon starting on campus, I immediately felt a sensation of calm fall over me as the noise of cars stopped, being replaced by the sound of a stream as I began to walk through the blooming gardens.
Once at the lawn and sitting on my yoga mat, I was surrounded by other university students, community members and a few kids as a yoga instructor began taking us through a relaxing and restorative hour.
The class was put on in celebration of International Yoga Day, offering both mat and chair yoga as well as local wellness vendors.
The event was organized by Karissa Schreyer, a recent UBC alum with a degree in English literature, and Sayde Shuster, a second year psychology student at UBC.
“I think the idea came from creating more accessible wellness spaces for people [at] UBC and just in the Greater Vancouver area,” said Shuster, as she discussed the origin of the event. “Connecting people to the outdoors is something that the garden wants to do more.”
“[We want to] educate in how outdoors can heal us,” Shuster added.
During the hour of restorative yoga, birds could be heard chirping in the trees. Many of the yoga students moved out from under the protective tents to bask in the sun while they continued to stretch. It was peaceful in the garden as everyone participated in self-care while being grounded in nature.
After the class was finished, I talked with other participants who agreed that the class and instructor were great. We all loved doing yoga outside and engaging with nature.
After a quick drink at a refreshment stand set up for the class, everyone packed up their mats and started the scenic walk back to the entrance where vendors awaited.
Unique to this event, there were five small business vendors from across BC selling handmade wellness products like ceramics, traditional tea and other homemade self-care products. It was a great end to a relaxing morning.
When talking about what she hopes participants will get out of the day's events, Schreyer emphasised that she wanted them to have a good day.
“[I hope] that they feel like [their day] was made better by the yoga class and to feel in touch with themselves and their bodies through yoga. And to appreciate the connection between themselves and nature while visiting the garden,” Schreyer said.