Ottawa’s Parliament Hill is more than just home to politicians and political scandals. Every week, during the summer months, something spiritual happens on the lawn of this magnificent Canadian political building, in the cultural heart of Ottawa.
Yoga on Parliament Hill.
Athletic apparel retailer, Lululemon, sponsors this free weekly event that takes place from noon to 1PM on Wednesdays. Thousands of Ottawa residents, and tourists alike, line up their yoga mats on the lawn, take off their shoes, and lift their arms to the open skies. Local yoga instructors step up to lead the crowd in a one hour yoga session that appeals to both the novice yoga practitioner AND expert yoga practitioner.
DOING THE DOWNWARD DOG
I have practiced a little yoga in my time…a little. I would classify myself as a novice yoga practitioner. I have pondered giving Yoga on the Hill a go for the past couple of years, but never ventured downtown to take part…until today. My friend, Vanessa, from Turnipseed Travel, who suggested we try a session of outdoor yoga, was my motivating factor for finally convincing me to take the plunge and do the Downward Dog on Parliament Hill.
And do it I did.
This past Wednesday, Vanessa and I dusted off our yoga mats and joined over 2,000 (my estimate) of Ottawa’s finest yoga practitioners.
That’s Vanessa ^ graciously posing for me (in front) about 10 minutes before our yoga session got under way.
This is me. Notice the big smile on my face. This was taken before our yoga session started. That smile disappeared 1/2 hour after Yoga on Parliament Hill started, and I realized how out of shape I really am!
Our yoga instructor lead us through a series of yoga positions, including the aforementioned Downward Dog, the Plank, and the Cobra. All of these are considered basic yoga positions.
Surprisingly, one of the most difficult things for me was keeping my arms up in the air as often as we were supposed to. Try doing that numerous times in one half hour. You’ll also be surprised at how tiring this is.
Our yoga instructor was terrific. The sounds system is well-done on Parliament Hill so it was very easy to hear everything our yoga instructor said, even though he was up at the front, and we were all the way at the back of the lawn.
Why were we at the back, you ask? Well, even though we got there early, the back is where you go when you don’t have a clue what you are doing, and you don’t want 2,000 others staring at you as your Downward Dog turns into a Toppled Turtle, like mine did.
Plus, being at the back of the crowd allows you to take some great shots of the event.
Until Yoga on Parliament Hill, I never imagined aspiring to get a photograph of human feet in front of the Parliament Building.
But is was mesmerizing, so I took another.
There were feet everywhere!
And bums. So many bums. All I could think of was…pity the poor tourist walking by, and faced with the site of 2,000 bums.
Finally, we got to my most favourite part of Yoga on Parliament Hill. I mastered these poses with finesse!
I’m not sure what this pose is called ^, but I call it the Sun Worshiper.
My overall favourite yoga position ^ the Exhausted Earthworm (as named by me). I mastered this one in mere seconds, which means I had time to take some photos, much to the chagrin of the yoga instructor who (I think) called me out in public for “texting” on my cell phone. Vanessa jokingly called me the “bad” kid in the class and asked me to move away from her because she didn’t want to be seen with me. We giggled at that, as I laid back down on my yoga mat and into my Exhausted Earthworm pose.
The yoga practitioners in attendance around us were all friendly people, many of whom were VERY good at yoga. I had a quick chat with this lovely lady at end of the hour, and she allowed me to take her photo.
Her “splits” skills were amazing. I was actually feeling somewhat flexible by the end of our session…until I turned around and saw her. She was fabulous!
Our only concern we had during our time at Yoga on Parliament Hill was the fact that, while we could hear the instructor really well, sitting at the back, it was difficult to see him. For the novice yoga practitioner, we would recommend sitting close to the front so you can follow the instructor’s moves. Do as we did, and follow the crowd, and you may find yourself in the wrong positions if you happen to be watching a novice practitioner in front of you.
We had a great time at Yoga on Parliament Hill, and I would highly recommend checking it out. Whether you are a resident, or tourist, if you love yoga, Yoga on Parliament Hill is something you must experience. Just the site of 2,000+ people practicing yoga at the same time is in itself a tourist attraction. I noticed many tourist stopping to watch all of us.
And don’t worry. You won’t be asked to perform a Two Legged Inverted Staff Pose.
That’s a good thing. Trust me on that. Google it.