Get Bent Into Shape at Hillsmere Beach
Free outdoor yoga class part of Lululemon Athletica’s Salutation Nation program.
What’s it like to do a sun salutation directly beneath a bright morning sky?
For most people, it’s a new and spacious experience since most American yoga practitioners generally work on their mats shut inside of gyms, studios or homes.
Shortly before 8 a.m. Saturday, about two dozen people arrived at Hillsmere Shores community beach, and they unrolled their yoga mats on the grass beside the water’s edge.
They removed their shoes and sipped from water bottles. They were there to take part in Salutation Nation, a Lululemon Athletica program in which thousands of people all over the United States simultaneously gathered in fields, beaches, or parks to practice asana.
Oh, and the hour-long yoga class was free and open to the public.
Surrounded by the nonstop song of crickets and the occasional sharp chirps of overhead osprey, the Hillsmere class settled in to begin with a gentle child’s pose.
The class moved into standing postures that were flowed through in a rapid pace, and instructor Robin Fencel invited students to stretch and “reach for the water. See if you can grab a seagull.”
Ming Chen, who was visiting Annapolis from the New Jersey shore, was one of only four men in the group.
“I try to practice three to four times or more a week,” he said. “In Jersey there are a lot of beach classes. Some people hate it, some people love it. I like it. It’s natural, there’s fresh air, and plenty of sunshine. Some people call it an escape.”
From placing the hands in prayer position to chanting "om" in unison, from assuming the downward dog pose to maintaining a conscious awareness of the breath throughout all the poses, each member of the group adapted practice to his or her ability.
Yet the class felt unified.
“We have the luxury of being outside, with lots of inspiration like all these trees,” Fencel said.
She guided students into tree pose.
“Root your foot down to the ground," she said. "Let your branches [arms] climb where they want to. Choose a tree of inspiration from the ones around us.”
The class was inspirational, but it was physically challenging, as well.
“This is power yoga,” Fencel said. “So we like push ups.”
As students completed push ups and other moves, Fencel walked around making adjustments to people’s forms. Toward the end, the students completed work while lying on their mats, including abdominal exercises.
Though it wasn’t hot, and a cool breeze came in over the water, everyone was glistening from the effort when the class drew to a close.
Fencel teaches at several locations, including Sid McNairy’s Lifeline Power Yoga in Towson. The style of yoga she taught at Hillsmere beach on Saturday is called “power Vinyasa,” and she credits McNairy for teaching it to her.
She said she has plans to teach in Annapolis through Lululemon Athletica again in the future. To stay informed about upcoming Annapolis yoga events, visit Lululemon Athletica’s facebook page.