Fall is here and that means earlier sunsets, which for us at the Civic Center Conservancy means the winding down of evening outdoor fitness with our Civic Center MOVES program. This year, MOVES looked a little different, as we were unable to produce our regular lineup of classes in Civic Center Park due to COVID-19. Once outdoor workouts were approved earlier this summer, though, we were so grateful to be able to partner with The River Yoga in bringing four nights a week of yoga back to the park. The folks at The River wanted to offer outdoor space for some of their classes. We wanted to open Civic Center Park back up to the Denver community. This was a match meant to be - Community Yoga was born.
With just two classes left*, Community Yoga will go down in the Conservancy history books as how we first dipped our toes in the water towards bringing programs back to the park during the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with our rock star partners at The River, we are thrilled that it has been a such a success. Part of our mission is to activate the park - people are what make it come alive and positive activity is what makes it thrive. So, it's been such a joyous source of satisfaction and inspiration for us, to see the power of yoga and community coupled with the love people have for Civic Center Park, resulting in harmonious flow as the sun set on the beautiful Great Lawn.
Feeling so very inspired, we decided to mark this important moment in park history by chatting with Danielle Barbeau-Cook, owner of and teacher at The River Yoga, about what it was like bringing classes back outside, the importance of doing so in Civic Center Park and all things yoga from the view of this successful, inspirational woman.
You've been partnering with the Civic Center Conservancy since 2014 through our Civic Center MOVES fitness program. What has that experience been like?
This year has been a struggle for all of us - talk about why bringing yoga back to the park with the Conservancy was so important in the midst of that struggle.
Why is practicing yoga in Civic Center Park such a special experience?
How is yoga a helpful, powerful tool in navigating our lives, particularly given the stressed state of the world right now?
Tell us the story of how yoga came into your life.
“I’ve been practicing yoga for over 20 years. What struck a chord with me, was it was space where I could mentally land. I was a college freshman at the time, I felt like I had all this pressure on me to figure out who I was and what I wanted to do and be…when I found my way onto a yoga mat, it felt like everything slowed down a little bit and gave me clarity in my mind. And as a young woman, it helped me to feel comfortable in my own body.”
And how did you go from being a committed student to yoga teacher?
“While working in higher education as an advisor for college students, I found myself not feeling as though I was following my true calling in life. So, I took a yoga instruction class, not with any intention to make it a career out of it, but for self-improvement, betterment and learning. Fast forward two years later. I decided to leave education, and found my way to The River Yoga. It’s been eight years since then! What really resonated with me in becoming a studio owner and teacher, was to provide a space for people to find connection – in their own heads and hearts, but also in their community. And at The River, with our mission, there’s a real effort to be a “Third Place” – somewhere that’s not your home or work, but a place where you can come and hang out, ideas are shared, culture is transmitted and everyone knows your name.”
To experience the comforting power of the "Third Place" at The River Yoga, head over to their website and check out their numerous class offerings. *You can even still catch a Community Yoga class in Civic Center Park before it ends on Oct. 15th by registering here. Plus, keep an eye out on the Civic Center MOVES Facebook page, as we'll be hosting pop-up yoga in the park throughout the winter with The River when the weather is nice! Finally, congratulations to Danielle and her team on the soon-to-open new studio in Sunnyside - another Third Place for our Denver Community from some very talented, caring folks. So much inspiration worth celebrating!
The Civic Center Conservancy is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that partners with the City and County of Denver to restore, enhance and activate Denver’s historic Civic Center Park - elevating and sustaining this historic urban oasis as a vibrant and iconic cultural and community hub. Learn more at www.civiccenterpark.org/civiccenterconservancy.