Free yoga a crowd-pleaser

STRIKE A POSE: Hataitai's Leila Monrad was one of hundreds of Wellingtonians to enjoy a free yoga class.
KENT BLECHYNDEN/FAIRFAX NZ

STRIKE A POSE: Hataitai's Leila Monrad was one of hundreds of Wellingtonians to enjoy a free yoga class.

Wellington vibrated with the sound of "om" as hundreds of people stretched and twisted for the city's first Free Yoga Day.

While rain ruled out two planned outdoor classes yesterday, 37 free sessions were staged in studios from Miramar to Eastbourne.

Organiser Amber Sturtz had attended a free Labour Day yoga festival in her hometown of Austin, Texas, in 2011 and was keen to bring the concept to New Zealand.

"Labour Day is all about a day of rest for workers, so it's kind of nice to have something to rest your mind and body," she said.

"People can just stop thinking about what's for dinner, the kids, work emails. Our minds are constantly going, but here's a relaxation time to calm down."

Sturtz enlisted her yoga-loving friend Claire Baker to organise the festival, and spent Sunday handing out flyers at the Waitangi vegetable market.

The marketing effort paid off, with a vacant shop in Wellington's CBD packed with 30 yogis for one of the day's first classes at 10am.

Hataitai woman Leila Morad said that the class was the perfect way to start the day.

"It was really, really relaxing. I usually do a more athletic style of yoga, and this was really nice."

Making the classes free allowed people to sample different yoga styles and teachers without the barrier of cost, co-organiser Baker said.

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Some sessions yesterday catered specifically for children, pregnant women and couples.

The response from yoga studios and the public alike had been overwhelming, Baker said. "We definitely want to do this again."

 - The Dominion Post

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