Program Promoting Health Benefits of Yoga Heads to the Park

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Yoga can be intimidating for people who have never tried it, but a popular summer program is promoting the activity's health benefits.

Anne Pham enjoys practicing yoga. She said, "I originally practiced yoga to increase my flexibility, and I was recovering from a running injury."

She now is a certified yoga instructor, teaching at Power Life Yoga in Des Moines. This is her second year to volunteer as an instructor at Yoga in the Park.

"You've got the sun shining and you've got the green grass. It's something magical when you can practice outside," she said.

Yoga in the Park is a free event that takes place on the southeast lawn of Gray's Lake Park from 9 a.m. - 10 a.m. every Saturday morning from June 2nd through September 29th.

Jen Fletcher with Des Moines Parks and Recreation said, "There's no registration necessary. Just bring your mat and your water bottle, an open mind, and get ready to experience a nice little hour by the lake."

Des Moines Parks and Recreation and UnityPoint Health - Des Moines host Yoga in the Park. This is the ninth year for the popular program, at which between 150 to 300 people pack the lawn to improve their health.

Pham said, "Yoga is known to improve your flexibility, but also to increase your muscle tone and muscle strength."

It can also help with breathing and decrease anxiety.

"And it absolutely helps with development of kids, as well, especially as you get into the emotional times, to be able to learn how to breathe, to recognize this is what's going on around me, and it's okay," said Pham.

Pham said practicing yoga has helped her health.

“When I added yoga to my exercise routine, I found that I could run faster, run longer, and it really increased my health overall."

Fletcher said people should ride their bike or walk along the trail to Gray’s Lake, since parking is limited on the southeast corner. A list of volunteer instructors can be found at dmparks.org.