Throw a Yoga Party for Friends
Are you looking for a new theme for a party? Why not try a yoga party? Yoga has never been more popular and even those who are not physically fit can participate.
Katherine Howard of Rochester, N.Y., was delighted with the surprise yoga shower her pals threw her. Howard's first pregnancy caused her quite a bit of back problems and her friends knew she wanted to see if yoga would help her avoid those same problems with her second pregnancy. "They thought it would be a great idea to all chip in and buy me a pregnancy yoga class as a group gift and see if the instructor could hold the first class at the baby shower," says Howard. "We had a blast! Some of the women had never done any yoga before, so it was a new and exciting experience. She led us in gentle, easy yoga positions, but it ended up being like a game of drunk Twister. We kept on bumping into each other and trying to help each other hold positions ... and falling onto each other and laughing so hard, even the instructor broke up!"
Howard's yoga shower was a complete success and others are finding that yoga parties are a novel idea for get-togethers.
Yoga Parties for Everyone!
Jill Cheretis is a certified yoga instructor from northern Virginia. She is experienced in giving yoga parties and loves to do them for a variety of reasons. "Yoga parties are great get-togethers," says Cheretis. "No matter who it is, a gathering of neighbor women on a rainy Monday morning or a Saturday night with dates, yoga parties allow you to relax, release stress and just smile at yourself in a fun, comfortable setting."
Cheretis believes that one of the reasons yoga is gaining in popularity is there has been a shift in our collective awareness of physical fitness. People are starting to realize that true fitness engages both mind and body. "True happiness is not a gift, but something that needs to be cultivated," says Cheritis. "After a yoga party, everyone is in a great mood, and we usually enjoy healthy snacks and green tea. It's a wonderful get-together and there is no pressure to buy anything or social pressure to make conversations with people you do not know."
Creating a Serene Atmosphere
Evan Cooper, yoga instructor and the author of the book, UM, Like...OM: A Girl Goddess's Guide to Yoga, (Little Brown, 2005) says it's fun to use an eastern philosophy theme for decor and food.
"There are so many ways to be creative when this expansive and all-inclusive theme is used," she says. "For example, I would create a very Zen-like or peaceful atmosphere with beautiful flowers, an array of candles and soothing music. I'm not saying you have to put your guests to sleep – actually quite the opposite. The goal is to awaken your guests into a feeling of being at peace, being calm and truly alive."
Cooper has taught at parties where the host has served an organic and vegetarian meal in the vein of traditional yogis with party decor such as little Buddhas decorating the tables. At one party she instructed, the hostess hired an astrologer to read her guests' signs.
"Another great idea is to give every guest a personal journal as a party favor," says Cooper. "They can then write about their first experience in yoga and/or have friends sign it as a meaningful keepsake."
When asked to teach at a party, Cooper often refers her clients to restaurants and bakeries that cater delicious organic foods and pastries, though she does suggest that you wait to serve the refreshments until after the class. She also asks them what types of music generally inspire them and then creates a CD mix of preferred music, plus traditional Indian music to play during the yoga class. The CD is then left for the host as a gift to remember the occasion. Even if your instructor doesn't offer to do this, you certainly can.
Choosing an Instructor
Cooper suggests meeting with your instructor before you hire him or her. Ask yourself if this is someone you think is going to be fun and light-hearted or is this the type of instructor who is going to lead a boot-camp-type class? "You have to know what you want in a teacher, as we all have our own styles of teaching," says Cooper.
The best way to do this is to call or visit a local yoga studio and ask if any of their teachers teach outside of the studio. Once you meet with the teacher, see if he or she has any suggestions and ask what you need to provide as far as mats or other equipment. It's also a good idea to have plenty of bottled water on hand for your guests.
Cooper believes that a yoga party can be more then just an entertaining event. "Beyond being fun and unique, a yoga party adds an entirely new dimension to a party," says Cooper. "Those who have practiced yoga before can do something they love, while those who are brand new [to yoga] have the opportunity to experience this increasingly popular ancient practice. With the recent boom in popularity, many people are curious to try yoga but are intimidated for one reason or another. Having a yoga class at a celebratory event helps de-mystify something more and more people are benefiting from in today's stressed out, overworked society: mind/body exercise!"