Yoga Under the Elms offers area residents a chance to stretch and connect 

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — On a hot and sticky afternoon, 75-year-old Ann Mulligan is sweating her way through a series of child poses, downward-facing dogs and standing half-forward bends. 

She has been practicing yoga for 20 years, but this is her first time doing it outside.  

“It was hot and there were a couple of ants, but otherwise it was a lot of fun,” she said. 

Tuesday was the first day of Yoga Under the Elms, offered through Ohio University’s WellWorks program, which drew about 30 people to the College Green. 

Instructor Kristen Keen led her class through the one-hour session.  

“I just kind of built up a series of poses that were moving the body in all different ways,” Keen said. “Things that will get movement into the spine, the hips, the shoulders.” 

For the next five Tuesdays, community members can meet and practice yoga in line with WellWorks’ vision “to create a wellness community that shares their journey by building connections.” 

Two men practice Yoga Under the Elms on the College Green. [Betty Kankam-Boadu | WOUB]
Two men practice Yoga Under the Elms on the College Green. [Betty Kankam-Boadu | WOUB]
This connection is Chao Yang-Lee’s favorite part about doing yoga.  

“I like the fact that we are doing this together as a group,” he said. “There is a lot of positive energy.” 

Stretching the body in the full glare of the public can be uncomfortable for some people, but Keen says that’s something participants will work on. 

“One thing we practice in yoga is the technique of drishti or your gaze,” she said. “That technique of drishti is meant to keep your practice within your own body so you’re not looking around judging yourself based on someone else’s practice or whoever is watching you from the outside.”    

For those who want to try yoga for the first time but are unsure, Mulligan said it gets better over time. 

“If you move and stretch your body every single day, it becomes natural,” she said. “You gotta use it or lose it.”