Red tape halts free outdoor yoga at Dude Chilling Park

Founder of Dude Chilling Yoga Collective sees the practice as a comfort, not a luxury for the rich

jock and jill

There is little reason for yoga practitioners to say “namaste” after free, twice-daily outdoor classes ended over the weekend in Mount Pleasant.

The Dude Chilling Yoga Collective had run the popular sessions twice a day since 2014 at Guelph Park, also known colloquially as Dude Chilling Park, on East Eighth Avenue. Cost for classes was "pay what you can."

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Solomon Montijo started the sessions three years ago, according to the group's Facebook page. At the time, he wrote that he became a teacher to "share this precious gift" of yoga with anyone interested. "I grew up under the poverty line and know first-hand what it's like to have so many comforts of life be beyond my reach. I firmly believe that yoga should be one of those comforts."

The collective, which is associated with the Karma Teachers Centre, announced May 20 that they’d operated in a “legal grey area with the city” but had recently “been informed that we are not going to be allowed to offer classes as we have been at the park.”

Online reaction was swift and sad, as the yoga classes were an example of the low-key, community-minded groups that host recreational activities in the park for sheer enjoyment and socializing. It's not yet clear how other groups will be affected.

The Collective said they are looking for possible solutions.

The park board did not immediately respond to the Courier on Tuesday morning.

“At this time we do not have the means to organize and pay for the required permits that the city is imposing on us,” wrote the Collective.

The final classes were held on the morning of May 21.

More to come.

Twitter: @MHStewart

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