The free yoga classes in Dude Chilling Park, which were shut down by the Vancouver Park Board in May, are back after organizers and officials struck an agreement.
The free or pay-what-you-can 75-minute yoga sessions at Dude Chilling Park usually ran twice a day, at 10 am and 6 pm, every day, though summer.
However, the Dude Chilling Park Yoga Collective was shut down by the board and told they could not continue without a private recreation permit.
At the time, founder Solomon Montijo said he could not afford the permit and did not agree with “the commodification of an ancient spiritual tradition.”
Happily, on Friday, Director of Recreation Donnie Rosa told Daily Hive the Park Board has agreed to work with Montijo to keep the yoga going.
“We want to get yoga back in the park,” said Rosa. “It’s a really great thing to have in the park, so our job is to work with them to figure out how we keep it going.”
Rosa said the collective’s insurance and rental agreement are now organized, and they are working together to help the group become financially self-sustaining.
In the future, Rosa added, there was also the option of the collective becoming part of the park board’s own programming.
In a Facebook post, Montijo said he was excited the City was “cutting us a lot of slack.”
“They are waiving all the permit fees (which would have been upwards of 3000 for the season!)” he wrote.
“And the reps I’ve talked to sound very enthusiastic about turning this into a very legitimate thing!”
Rosa could not confirm the board had waived the collective’s fees, saying they had “different contracts with all kinds of groups.”
“What we have done is sat with them and said, “How do we achieve the end goal together?” said Rosa.
“While they’re not, at this point, paying full rate, that’s our goal, that we get them to that point.”
And Rosa aimed to reassure those that may not like the idea of the yoga group having a formal agreement with the board.
“I’m not interested in making it some sort of bureaucratic, red-tape kind of program. That’s not the intent here. The intent is that we still have great yoga in the park.
“But we have some bare minimums that we have to meet…I know not everybody likes that, but it is what it is, for you to use a City park.”
The park board’s closure of the yoga sessions back in May sparked the usual comments about Vancouver being a “no fun city.”
But Rosa, who only moved here from Ontario eight months ago, said she doesn’t get it.
“I have more fun in this city than I ever had in Ontario,” she said. “Yeah there’s gonna be some paperwork involved, but that doesn’t mean it’s no fun.”
“Sometimes you have to do these things, but the goal isn’t no fun!”
A former hockey player, Rosa says she’s relatively new to yoga, but is impressed by Vancouver’s “intense” commitment to the practice.
“I laugh at myself when I do yoga, but I try my best,” said Rosa, who added that her partner, an ex-yoga instructor, will be dragging her to Dude Chilling Park for a session soon.
In the end, said Rosa, it’s about communication.
“Once we sit down and work things out, we want the same end result,” she said.
“I want the community to be active, and healthy, and engaged. So does the group at Dude Chilling, so let’s get there together.”
Montijo told Daily Hive the free yoga sessions in Dude Chilling Park will be starting up again immediately.
“Summer doesn’t feel like summer without Dude Chilling yoga!!” he wrote on Facebook. “We pray that you continue to stay tuned and come to our beautiful outdoor practices.”