Harmony–to be at peace with nature–is one reason people visit Minnesota state parks.
Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, unique among Minnesota parks having neither a body of water for recreation nor a registered historic site, has nearly 3,000 acres of beauty, all of its own.
Now, it is the first in park in the system to introduce a yoga program.
Park event organizer Kathy Dummer explains, “I had heard of yoga and downhill skiing and yoga and surfing, and wanted to find a way to introduce this pairing to our park. We want to utilize the setting. May in Minnesota is a bit iffy, but Nature is constant. Last year blossoming was ahead of schedule, this year, it was on time.” Kathy was the driving force behind Nerstrand-Big Woods’ newest program “Yoga and Wildflowers.”
Spring was the inaugural venture.
“Ten people came at the beginning. Actually, even if only one interested visitor attended we would run the program,” Dummer reassures. “Five more joined up a bit later.”
The program began with 15-20 minutes of yoga of stretches to limber participants up for the trail. “The idea was to help build up flexibility, loosen up hips, shoulders and back in preparation for the hike. We also became familiar with the mountain pose Tadusena, which helps with alignment.”
Tadusena, is a standing posture, with feet together and hands at the sides of the body, which yoga practitioners believe promotes confidence and happiness, in addition to improving posture and creating space within the body.
“Once limbered and stretched, we began to walk the trail. There were bumps, dips and minor chasms, all of which required balance to traverse. This was where it was helpful to remember the stances practiced before embarking,” Dummer said.
The trail took between a half hour to forty-five minutes to complete. All along the way, wildflowers were showing their glory.
“Check your level of awareness, be in harmony with the nature you encounter,” Dummer, also a certified yoga instructor, would urge. Using yogic awareness, participants were asked to think of how they would move, bending to look at a flower, being in harmony and checking one’s level of awareness.
Along the trail could be found the White Trout Lily, Rouge Anemone, wild ginger, marsh marigolds, Cut-leaf, Tooth-wart and the ever-present Trillions.
Reaching the falls was the high point of the hike.
“We were surrounded by the awesome sound of the falls, and took time just to listen. Then we came to Tadusena, enjoying the sound of birds and nature surrounding us, moving into the warrior position to keep grounded, giving courage.
The program is simple, easy enough for anyone to participate, for all ages and genders. Dummer was enthusiastic about future plans, adding “We are testing the water, so to speak, with this program. We are thinking now of combining yoga and kayaking and perhaps running a yoga/winter retreat.”