Yoga Happening-Step away from Routine

[singlepic id=19 w=320 h=240 float=left]The founder of Toronto’s new Yoga Happening insists his project is not a secret society for yoga. He just won’t tell you where or when the sessions take place. Or who teaches them. Or his own name.

His hope is the dearth of information will be a form of know-nothing nirvana for yoga enthusiasts who are feeling contorted by their own overly structured routines.

“Yoga” is a Sanskrit word meaning “to unite,” but, as Toronto’s many yogis and yoginis can attest, the city’s population of practitioners is anything but united. As it grew in popularity, yoga in North America also became more specialized. Now a newcomer has to choose between styles like “vinyasa,” “ashtanga,” “kundalini” and “hatha.” Studios can have passionate adherents whose attitude isn’t very … flexible.

Yoga Happening’s nameless yogi would like this to change. He wants to focus on the why and the how of yoga; forget the where, what and who.

To boost beatification, Yoga Happening will provide only 24 hours notice of where and when their next roving session will take place, and will wait until participants arrive – with rolled mats and open minds – before disclosing who is teaching or what sort of yoga is on hand.

Apparently, the promise of spontaneity is popular.

“We put up a website, Facebook site and Twitter feed, and within a week we had more than 200 Facebook members and more than 100 on our e-mail list,” says the founder.

The first session will be some time this week, with whispers suggesting it will be held on the grass of Winston Churchill Park at St. Clair and Spadina. Sessions will be pay-what-you-can, with a suggested ponying-up of $10.

With a plan to give 50 per cent of income to instructors, Yoga Happening could attract top-notch instructors (JP Tamblyn from Octopus Garden has already signed on), but the founder insists instruction will be of secondary importance to cultivating attitudes that are anything but downward-dog dogmatic.

David Good, an events supervisor at the Drake Hotel, heard about Yoga Happening and signed up to help spread the word on the Internet. As a yoga enthusiast, he’s seen how people can get too wrapped up in following favourite instructors.

“I’ve been to yoga sessions where students roll up their mats and go home before it starts because the instructor they were expecting didn’t show up,” says Mr. Good.

Non-attachment is the goal, and the founder isn’t talking about hamstring muscles and tendons.

“Our spontaneous schedule encourages students to be in the moment,” he says. “When you don’t have expectations it is impossible to be stressed about what will happen in the future.”

When the weather is good, sessions will be mainly in parks and outdoor public spaces, but the founder also hopes to congregate on the Sky Yard patio of the Drake Hotel, and in places like the Art Gallery of Ontario, Don Valley Brickworks and Wychwood Barns. He speculates there might be other sessions that aren’t arranged with unwitting hosts, pointing to so-called art happenings and flash mobs that were part of his inspiration.

“We’ll see how it goes,” he says. “I think it would be fun to get arrested for doing yoga.”