Living Yoga Studio
By Nate Wolff, Assistant Farm Manager & Yoga Instructor
I must admit, I had conflicting sentiments when I heard the back of the greenhouse was to be transformed into the Living Yoga Studio. This was an area that up to this year was used largely as storage for miscellaneous equipment and encroaching weeds. Not only was the ground uneven, but it was highly compacted and was prone to washing out during our hard midwest rains- conditions that made me cringe as a farmer and a yogi. However, the project had significant importance and allure to us as practitioners of permaculture, a systems-thinking approach which challenges us to value the marginalized areas of our lives as untapped resources. So we began to think how we could reconsider these potential problems as assets toward an appropriate solution.
When contemplating what would be the best flooring for our yoga studio, a living floor of plants was not what first came to mind. When looking about the world around us for examples of outdoor flooring we mostly saw layers of plastic membranes, concrete, drainage tiles, decking, and turf. But these materials posed problematic within our unique context on the farm. It was only when our eyes landed on a patch of weeds growing up through the landscape fabric that it dawned on us that the most prolific flooring of all lay all around us in parks and pastures. Could we grow flooring out of different plants that could withstand some trampling? There were many risks involved, but it seemed to solve for our difficult parameters and held promise to create a new way that was more in line with our permaculture values. Armed with this new idea, we looked toward the realm of possibility, and struck out to grow possibly the first of its kind, a Living Yoga Studio.
Our partner on this mission, Yoga Buzz, garnered substantial financial support for the project and thus we began to dream of practicing sun-salutations and meditation on soft, mossy mint patches instead of the concrete-like tundra that was more in line with reality at the time. Luckily, we have a spirited farm crew and amazing volunteers that began work over the summer to clear out the old equipment, break up the ground, and add amendments to create a habitable environment for our future ground cover.
Over the weeks to follow, the groundcover plants we seeded, germinated, and grew were white clover, chamomile, wild strawberries, and thyme. And along with them came wild groundcover plants as well; wild geranium, mallow, chickweed, and deadnettle. The space now lays transformed into a green pasture begging for challenging chaturangas and serene shavasana.
Now that our permaculture-inspired Living Yoga Studio is nearly established, be on the lookout for free yoga classes on the farm in spring 2018, in partnership with Yoga Buzz. EarthDance is thrilled to offer this repurposed space where all people are invited to practice yoga off the beaten path. We look forward to seeing you in the field and on the mat.