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What an amazing experience! Three days of yoga, music, art and much more.
Yogis of every skill level brought out their mats to take part in the inaugural Yogathon on the lawn at Florida Atlantic University‘s Davie campus.
Participants were invited to try different styles of yoga throughout the day under a tent, and vendors were on hand selling products promoting the health and nutrition theme.
The idea came from Paty Renda, an instructor who teaches classes at FAU.
“I figured we have the space and we already had yoga in the school, [so] I thought it was a good idea to expand it and reach out to the community,” she said.
Alina Flor taught AcroYoga, which combines acrobatics and yoga.
“We were happy to bring the experience here,” she said. “It’s a chance to get a taste of yoga. This is a laid-back and relaxed atmosphere. It’s a different dynamic than a studio and [great] being outside.”
Renda said yoga is becoming increasingly popular because it challenges the body and mind since there is a mental challenge that goes along with the movements, and there are life lessons taught in an ultimate search for peace.
Diego Torres-Malaga, coordinator of campus life, hopes to make the Yogathon an annual event.
“We are looking to grow this,” he said. “Some people here have done the classes all day. We’ve seen all types here, which is great because we really wanted to engage our community, students, faculty and staff. We wanted to bring everyone together to enjoy a day of yoga, health and fitness.”
Dayane Josaphat discovered yoga while attending FAU and still takes classes there even though she graduated two years ago. Josaphat took the Budokon session, a form of yoga that infuses elements of martial arts.
“This event is great,” she said. “I’m a social worker, so my job can be very stressful, so it’s good to know I can come here and de-stress. I love the vibe and the energy.”
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Beneath the big tent on Diversity Way, the wide lawn that stretches before Florida Atlantic University‘s Student Union and Liberal Arts buildings, nine true yoga fans laid out their mats in the morning on the Davie campus and began the revati yoga routine.
“We’re waking up the spine,” said instructor Paty Renda, who guided the group through stretches, twists and bends, all the while exhorting them to breathe.
“Focus on your breath; it’s at the root of everything we do. When you’re ready, breathe in and come back to center.”
As the hour-long class wore on, the devoted just kept coming, silently unfurling their mats and fluently joining in, until 28 yoga buffs — young and old, those just beginning and those practiced — moved in unison from downward facing dog to the humble warrior pose. They all spoke the same language.
Florida Atlantic University’s Yogathon brought neophyte and advanced devotees together for the first annual day-long event. The classes showcased several styles of yoga: hatha, ashtangha, vinyasa, budokon and acro.
“I’m kind of a beginner, and it’s actually pretty challenging,” said Camilo Micolta, who has been practicing every day for four months.
“I used to run three miles a day, I play soccer and I cycle. And this is more challenging to do on a daily basis, because you’re lifting your body weight while changing positions constantly. It’s not as easy as it looks.”
Renda, who has taught yoga on the FAU campus for 10 years, agrees the discipline is a challenge, but that’s the point, she said.
“It’s about the process and the practice; it’s about respecting your body where it is right now, then taking it step by step and learning from each step,” she said.
“Everyone can do it because if you listen to your body and move according to what your body can do today, you will grow from there.”
Campus Life Coordinator Diego Torres-Malaga organized the event and said about 100 residents and students took part. “We hope to do this on an annual basis and watch it grow. Everyone seems excited about it.”
FAU’s David Blank, associate director for campus life, said students petitioned last year for a physical activity.
“And we responded,” said Blank, adding that the university offers free yoga classes to students twice a week on the Davie campus.
“It really helps with stress management.”
Residents, such as Susan Hall of Davie, appreciate the classes as much as the students do.
“It’s so excellent that FAU is doing this,” said Hall, 58, who came for the budokon.
“I’ve done yoga every day of my life since I was 12; my children were born with me doing yoga breathing, and they’ve seen me do vinyasa every morning of their lives. In fact, they learned their first cobra poses stretching, strengthening their arms in their cribs to see what Mommy was doing below on the floor.”
Vendors selling raw juices, yoga pants and aromatherapy oils were also on hand, as well as a truck with healthy foods to serve the couple hundred hungry yoga enthusiasts who came to stretch, pose and breathe throughout the day.
Christopher Rosario, who runs The Raw Juice Co. in Tamarac with his family, was busy doling out kale, apple and cucumber concoctions; his mother, Rossy, said there is a connection between consuming raw juices and practicing yoga.
“Being healthy is a passion,” Rossy Rosario said.
“I’ll be taking a break from selling to join a class. Hatha and vinyasa are my favorites.”