Facing the Queen Mary amid a couple of trees and the ocean breeze, dozens of yogis gather on the bluff for an hour of guided yoga offered for free by Trilogy Yoga, a donation based studio.
The free classes have been offered since 2007 by yoga facilitator Dharma Shakti on the corner of Junipero and Ocean Blvd. Yogis can be seen doing poses such as down dog, cat, and happy baby to name a few.
Shakti, co-owner of Trilogy Yoga, decided to offer free yoga after she found that several of her friends could not afford to go to a studio on a regular basis. A friend of hers suggested the bluff by Bixby Park.
“It was not super planned or orchestrated it just kind of evolved into its own living being that it is now,” said Shakti, on a video posted on her blog. Shakti offers free yoga as a way of giving back to the community.
Since she began to offer free yoga Shakti has noticed several other studios do the same as well. The classes are open to all levels and are offered on a daily basis, Shakti teaches Saturdays and Sundays.
Park Superintendent Don Easterby stopped by the yoga class recently to discuss moving the group to a different location on the bluff. He stated that all the foot traffic is causing the grass to die.
“Once it’s all dead it’s almost impossible to get it to come back,” said Easterby referring to the grass on the bluff.
Easterby said that you can’t have that magnitude of people in the same spot over and over again because the ground becomes impacted and the turf doesn’t have a chance to come back.
The only reason why he requested to have the classes moved is because he saw that the turf was beginning to get impacted. He said that if the grass grew back it would be more comfortable for everyone to sit on.
“I think more and more people should get involved,” said Easterby.
Once the grass grows back Easterby said that the group could move back and they would have more cushion, not just dirt. He suggested moving the yoga classes by the motel, which is located nearby and also has shade.
“I don’t want to discourage it, I don’t want to be the one that stops it…I think it’s great that you guys have all that interest and you got a following, I think it’s fantastic,” said Easterby.
The yoga classes are being conducted on the bluff without a permit, something that parks and recreation is not enforcing because Trilogy Yoga is providing a service to the community. Theoretically if the police showed up the group could be asked to leave.
Getting a permit is something Easterby suggested that Trilogy Yoga look into if they wanted to continue there and have the class get bigger.
“I think it’s keeping me alive,” said Barbara Brooks a yogi who has been attending classes a lot more since recently losing her husband, who was diagnosed as terminally ill.
Brooks said that attending classes has helped her psychologically get through the loss and has even gained some muscle mass. She said that if the classes were no longer offered on the bluff she would go find them elsewhere.
Yogi Ray Muñoz has been attending the free outdoor yoga since last year after a CSULB professor convinced him to join her. He agreed although reluctantly because he had tried yoga in his 20s and did not like it.
“I came and for whatever reason, just being outside in the elements- it really clicked with me,” said Muñoz.
200 pounds overweight, Muñoz started to attend classes religiously. He said he became competitive after seeing his seven-month pregnant yoga instructor touch her toes. Although he felt self-conscious about his weight he slowly started noticing the difference in his body.
“I just felt really good, almost to the point where I really feel like I’m in the best shape that I’ve been in, even out of my teens and out of my 20s,” said Muñoz.
Bixby Park was famous for large state picnics in the 1920s and even has a gardening club. A weekly farmer’s market takes place every Tuesday and during the summer season several social gatherings are held such as concerts and plays.
“I absolutely love yoga and one of these days I might come out and join you guys,” said Easterby.