One in a series of articles about recreation options south of Boston.
MARSHFIELD — Stretched out from my fingertips to toes, drawing the woody balm of the soggy forest where I am lying deep into my lungs, I look up at the green pine needles dancing above on a bright, boundless blue.
And I wonder why I’ve never done yoga before.
Slowly picking myself up off my purple mat rolled out on soft sod under the trees by the North River, I pluck a pine cone out of my hair and muse. I am at ease. I am blissful. I am ready for the rest of my day.
Yoga at the River’s Edge, a summer yoga series organized by the North and South Rivers Watershed Association, is one of a number of opportunities south of Boston to roll out that yoga mat in the great outdoors. Local yoga studios and instructors are also offering sunrise and sunset classes by the water in other south suburbs, including Plymouth, Kingston, Weymouth, Scituate, and Hull.
“It’s different from a yoga studio because you have fresh air and trees and a beautiful vastness — not ceilings and walls and water stains,” said Kezia Bacon, a certified yoga instructor and the founder of the Yoga at the River’s Edge program.
The series, now in its 17th year, offers hatha yoga — combining gentle stretching with traditional postures, breathing, and meditation — at various sites along the North and South rivers.
“I get a lot of questions about bugs and ground conditions — some people aren’t so into it, but I think the majority of people come because it’s different, because it’s outside,” Bacon said.
And the setting makes a difference. “It helps people to relax,” she said.
While today we relished the warm, dry, early summer morning, there’s no telling the weather conditions. If it’s hot or muggy, buggy or without a breeze, finding that tranquility isn’t as easy, but Bacon says it’s part of the experience.
“When there are challenges, whether you’re in a yoga studio or outside, you can apply those to your practice,” she said. “So, yes, it’s harder to get to that serene place, but that’s part of yoga — teaching yourself to find that peace amidst the chaos that is our everyday lives.”
Bacon teaches a gentle Kripalu-style class — instructors have different styles — which encourages people to focus inward and on their breath, designed “to make it accessible so that anyone can come in and enjoy it.”
“I want to help people to start their day well and tune in with themselves and become more in touch with what’s going on inside, hopefully relax, and feel more peaceful — maybe get some insight on their lives,” she said.
“Yoga tends to draw us inside, so it can be really helpful that way.”
She encourages newbies (like me) to “allow yourself to maybe not understand everything, and over time it gets easier.”
The experience was ethereal, the rising sun enveloping me in an easy warmth as I moved through a series of simple poses, matching my inhalations and exhalations with the gentle wind breathing across the river and through the trees.
Ann Thomas, a Scituate resident who has been coming to the summer yoga sessions since they began — and practicing yoga even longer, since she was 6 — makes the Saturday morning classes a priority.
“I just find it’s an awesome tool in terms of my rejuvenation, my relaxation, and just taking care of myself,” she said.
Thomas, a science teacher in Cohasset, recently led a group of students on a trip to Costa Rica, where they explored tropical rainforests.
“What I’m really struck by is when you walk around the woods here, it can be just as interesting and just as many interactions with nature can occur,” she said. “You don’t have to go to Costa Rica. You can have it here.”
She encourages people to try out the yoga classes.
“This is the perfect way to introduce someone to yoga. It’s low-stress, non-competitive, and it’s a different group of people.”
Deb Ladas, a Marshfield resident who tried the class for the first time, said it was “incredibly peaceful” and vowed to come back for the other sessions.
“I was really hyper when I came,” she said. “I definitely feel a lot more grounded.”
Thomas, the yoga veteran, said she couldn’t imagine doing it any other way in the summertime.
“We have such distinct seasons; it’s finally a chance that we get to be out of doors,” she said. “This is just such a unique take, because it’s the sound of the birds and the sound of the water and the smells. It’s a very multi-sensory experience that you can’t really achieve indoors.”Anne M. Steele can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @AnneMarieSteele.