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Sun salutations return with free yoga in Oak Bay park

Hundreds expected for Tuesday evening sessions at Willows Beach

Hundreds of yogi of varying skills are expected to return to Willows Park Tuesday nights.

What started as a handful of people doing yoga on the beach a decade ago has become a popular weekly activity in Oak Bay and returns July 5 for its first full season since 2019.

While the official event marks 10 years this summer, Pete Rose started the trend ahead of that. A trained yoga teacher, he was looking to give back to community and had a concept of classes at Willows as a fundraiser for a community organization.

Money complicated matters, so he nixed that.

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Rose remembers leading his first class with new puppy Duncan’s leash tied to his ankle.

“It got popular and we went from that original seven on the beach, to in the summer occasionally up to 300,” Rose said.

That meant needing some equipment for speakers and microphones for instructors. While both Rose and Duncan are a little more grey these days, they’re still keen on the park visits. Rose sets up speakers for the event each Tuesday, as Ajna Yoga instructors lead classes through July then Recreation Oak Bay teachers take over in August.

With the wind in the trees, adjacent beach, playground and picnic areas, it remains popular.

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Families come and hang out, from those with young babies to parents with teens that sit and read while the adults do yoga, Rose said. “I’ve seen tourists come along and see this and all of a sudden just start doing it because you don’t need a mat or anything, you can just do it in the grass.”

Without participants, it wouldn’t be a success, he said. The price is right and the camaraderie is a lure.

“It’s an opportunity for people to get together whether they speak to each other or smile at each other or chat after.”

Yoga in the park returns to Willows on Tuesdays, July 5 to Aug. 30 from 6 to 7 p.m.

Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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