The courtyard of Ward Village’s IBM Building is filled with color. About eighty people stretch out on their pink, yellow, and purple yoga mats, warming up for their weekly Courtyard Yoga class.
The crowd is a mixed plate. Women in their 20’s sit next to men in their 50’s. Blondes, brunettes, and silver-haired yogis blend together in the big, open courtyard space as birds chirp and a cool breeze blows.
Lia Catanzaro, the instructor of the class since it started three years ago, steps up front. She calmly instructs the class over a headset microphone. In unison, hands stretch out to the sky. Eighty people, synchronized and focused. A bus rumbles down Ala Moana Boulevard, but it’s clear nobody hears it.
It’s quite a sight. And whether you’re a yoga expert or a yoga novice, this free, Thursday class at the Ward Village IBM Building is worth your time. We talked to Lia Catanzaro about what makes this weekly, community gathering so special.
What’s unique about Courtyard Yoga in Ward Village?
It's the only one of its kind! Ward Village is supporting the neighborhood and community of people around it with a chance to practice and enjoy yoga and mindfulness every week. Every first Thursday is “Yoga & Wine,” every second Thursday we go across the street to Kolowalu park (Courtyard Cinema takes over the courtyard at this time), and then the third and fourth Thursdays we’re back in the courtyard.
What are the health benefits of yoga?
There are so many benefits – physically and mentally – that come with practicing yoga. Most people get into yoga because of the physical "workout" of getting lean and flexible. But yoga was originally created to be a mental practice, first and foremost. Personally, the most beneficial part of the practice is the mindful mindset that I receive through meditation. My background is in psychology, so I immediately clicked with yoga due to the mental aspect of it.
If I’ve never done yoga before, why should I try it?
Yoga is for EVERYBODY. You don’t need to look a certain way, or be flexible, or athletic, or have had previous experience. All you have to do is show up and breathe. This class is for all levels and I always encourage people to listen to their own bodies and take breaks whenever they need to. That right there is being mindful.
If I’ve done yoga before, why should I come to Courtyard Yoga?
For someone who already practices yoga, come practice with a great community in a beautiful space. There are many experienced yogis who come to class to slow down and enjoy an outdoor practice.
How can yoga make us more mindful in this digital age?
We all need an hour (or more really!) to unplug and recharge physically and mentally. It's impossible to practice mindfulness when you have numerous feeds and tabs open to keep up with – messages, emails, images... all at your fingertips. The more you can unplug, the easier it is to mindfully handle being "plugged in."
What do you love about teaching Courtyard Yoga?
I love the community it’s created. I love watching people grow and build strength. And I love the moments when I get to hear about how yoga has changed or influenced other things in people’s lives, or improved how they feel physically and mentally.
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