ST. JOSEPH -- Yoga fans of all experience levels now have a weekly opportunity to practice with others in the great outdoors.

Instructors from Shanti Yoga Center, located in St. Cloud, will lead yoga classes each Tuesday night starting at 6:00 p.m. at Millstream Park in St. Joseph.

Shanti Yoga Center founder Jessie Sandoval says classes will follow “Stay Safe Minnesota” guidelines, with participants 6 feet apart. Sandoval expects something between 10 and 25 students per class. She says proper spacing and air quality are critical concerns for her yoga practice — both outdoors and inside Shanti's facility, which is currently shifting back to limited-capacity indoor classes four times a day.

"If you're outside, you have fresh air all the time," she said. "You're not in a situation where you're breathing in the same air. (Shanti Yoga Center) has a system where we are able to exchange the air, and we also have doors that open directly from our studio spaces directly to the outdoors. Those are some ways, from a safety perspective, that we're thinking of the health and well-being of our students as they transition back."

Sandoval says this series of outdoor classes is designed for students of all skill levels, from beginner to expert, covering a variety of yoga postures and breathing techniques, as well as relaxation and mindfulness topics.

"When you offer something like this, something outdoors, and you're saying 'all are welcome,' it really doesn't bode well to say, 'but only beginners, or only advanced," she said. "Whether it's myself or one of the other instructors guiding the class, it will be guided in a way that provides options."

All participants are asked to bring their own yoga mats. The classes are donation-based, with $5.00 as a suggested minimum. Fees, says Sandoval, will go toward scholarships for students who might not otherwise have access to yoga classes in a studio.

Sandoval says she's keen on reminding her students how critical movement activities like yoga are to overall well-being - particularly during difficult or stressful times.

"Yes, it is a challenging time for so many reasons," she said. "It's okay to have feelings of sadness or frustration. It's also okay to seek ways to comfort ourselves and support our overall well-being. Actively choosing to move, breathe and meditate will help us be better equipped for survival and will build our resilience in difficult circumstances. Yoga is just one of the many tools out there for connection and well-being."

For more information, visit Shanti Yoga Center’s Facebook page.

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