By ALLISON MATYUS
You don’t have to be flexible or relaxed in order to practice yoga; Chaturanga Holistic Fitness, 1525 E. 55th St., is proving that the practice of yoga goes far beyond the limits of the yoga mat in their new Mindful Meetups series.
“Connecting with yourself in any way is a form of yoga,” said Marylee Bussard, the studio owner.
As an alternative way to connect with the inner self, Bussard began Mindful Meetups at Chaturanga at the end of September that will last throughout the fall. The kick-off event on Sept. 30 was a collaboration with Hyde Park’s The Revival, 1160 E. 55th St., to take a look at the art of improv and how to apply it to other areas of life.
“Improv is about being in the present moment and stretching your boundaries by putting yourself out there,” Bussard said. “There is something about it that is very spiritual in the sense of just bringing that ‘yes’ attitude to life.”
Bussard said the idea for Mindful Meetups came from cultivating a better sense of community into the studio.
“We don’t always have the opportunity between classes to talk and get to know one another,” she said. “We decided to offer something that would give the mindful community in Hyde Park the opportunity to grow and come together.”
Other workshops in the series include “We Are Creative Creatures: Find Your Creative Style,” “Neuromovement: Awareness in Motion,” “Gong Meditation” and “Non-violent Communication Practice Group.”
For the Non-Violent Practice Group workshops, Bussard teamed up with Hema Pokharna, who has ran a non-violent communication practice group at Regents Park, 5050 S. Lake Shore Dr., every Monday night at 7:30 p.m. for over 20 years in Hyde Park. She said that learning the skills that Pokharna teaches are essential in promoting peace within communities.
“You think of violence in terms of shootings and altercations, but violence stems from an internal state,” she said. “If you can learn to be skillful and learn with an open heart, you can extend that caring and positive regard to those in your life.”
Bussard said not everyone has to be a seasoned yogi in order to participate in these mindful workshops.
“Our client base is really diverse in every way, so it is my hope to get new people coming in and enjoying the community,” she said. “It’s about having the opportunity to show up as your authentic self and be among others who are too.”
The Mindful Meetups are Fridays at 7:45 p.m. and Sundays at 5:45 p.m. All of the meetups are donation based. For a full schedule of upcoming meetups, visit http://chaturangafitness.com/pages/mindful-meetups-master-classes.