Spotted: Free Yoga in Arnada Park

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

Published:

 

Trucks rumbled by, dogs chased tennis balls around and kids made noise — and about a dozen barefoot Arnadans closed their eyes and focused on calm and grace, spirit and the big stretch.

Since mid-August, Emily Oliva has been offering a free Monday night yoga class in Arnada Neighborhood Park. For folks who live in the blocks below Fourth Plain Boulevard it’s a pleasant stroll through the older, leafy neighborhood to the park, where the sky opens up and there’s a carpet of grass.

Folks used to doing yoga in an exercise room with mirrors and oozing music found fresh air and the darkening sky, plus downtown’s surround-sound, made Downward Facing Dog and Hanging Forward Fold that much more enjoyable. Evening chill and hungry mosquitoes were a less welcome reality check, so longer sleeves are probably in order from here forward.

Oliva will continue her free one-hour yoga class at 7 p.m. in Arnada Neighborhood Park, at East 25th and G streets, on Sept. 13, 20 and 27. To join in, all you need to do is show up with your mat.

The athletic Oliva, 32, said she recently decided to leave a corporate desk job and follow her bliss: sharing her love of yoga with others.

She’s launched her own website, http://emilyolivayoga.blogspot.com. She’s teaching as many classes as she can manage in pursuit of a teaching certificate with Rushing Water Yoga in Camas. She teaches weekly classes for Living Yoga, a Portland nonprofit that brings the mental and physical benefits of yoga to prisoners, people in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, disadvantaged youth and women in domestic violence shelters.

“In the past few years I noticed more than just physical benefits from yoga,” Oliva said. “Yoga provides a calm, quiet, centered mind and body.”