About 37 million Americans practice yoga, and some people in Atlanta are starting to do it in unexpected places. They do it on paddle boards out on Stone Mountain Lake, at area malls and at a park just off the BeltLine. WABE stopped by one yoga class to learn why hundreds of people there have left the gym behind.
Yoga As Community
The class is at a field near the Old Fourth Ward Skate Park. There, hundreds of people cram together yoga mats and move together like synchronized swimmers.
Some people say they prefer to do yoga here at a park because of the outdoors, but most say it's about community.
"You see everyone around you, kind of, you know some people wobble. Some people shake, but everyone's trying their best to get through the practice and do what they can do," says William Coulter.
"You get your friends to go. You want to hang out with your friends, and it makes yoga more fun, and it also kind of like traps you into going because sometimes I'm like, 'I don't want to go' and everyone's like, 'Show up; come on,'" is the explanation from Lacey Rabidue.
"It does feel like a good sense of culture," says Allison Miles, "It feels like Atlanta."
King of Pops Yoga's Origins
This yoga class started because people wanted to spend time together. The instructor, Charlie Baxter Graham, used to sell popsicles for King of Pops, and a few of her coworkers decided to pay her for a yoga class.
One of them was the company's co-founder, Steven Carse.
"It's nice spending time outside of work with the people you work with where you're – where you're not thinking so hard about popsicles," Carse explains. "It seemed silly not to invite everyone else since they were kind of starting to come anyway."
That's how this became King of Pops Yoga in the Park.
When she's done teaching, Graham says it's different to go to the park for, say, a concert than to go for a yoga class.
"The difference between being in a venue with a lot of people and being in your body and in your practice is the difference between being within a community and being the community," she says. "It's an action word."
- Except during the winter, King of Pops Yoga in the Park meets on Tuesday nights near the Old Fourth Ward Skatepark. The time and location change slightly throughout the season. More information is available at kingofpops.com.
- A search for stand up paddle board (SUP) yoga classes on Stone Mountain Lake will show multiple groups that host those classes.
- A number of malls and stores hold periodic free yoga classes, and Atlantic Station hosts them every Wednesday during warm-weather months.