Contributed by Tina Joslin
If you have lived in the Okanagan for a while, and you have any interest in Yoga then you have likely attended, or heard of Oranj Fitness’s annual “Largest Outdoor Yoga Class”. If not…. Well, do yourself a favour, watch the linked video and read on, because we would love to share this experience with you.
A little bit of history.
If you haven’t been in Kelowna for a long time then you may not know the history behind the event, or Oranj. Oranj Fitness, then Oranj Dance Fitness opened its doors in 2008, with a big dream, 125 classes, and about 16 guests haha. I worked at the studio from the beginning teaching dance classes and it was a very humble beginning. At any given day I could have zero or 6 people in my class, but it made me, all the instructors, employees and owner work and push so hard to give an amazing experience to the people who did come, so they would come back. The studio is still standing, I am now the owner; and while there are a plethora of other beautiful boutique studios now in Kelowna, we are the longest standing space, with the longest standing annual event.
“The Okanagan’s Largest Outdoor Yoga Class”
This was the event’s title when we started the class, outdoor yoga classes were not occurring in the valley and we wanted to shake things up and create a fun, “don’t take yourself too seriously” yoga class that ANYONE could attend. Since then, we have opened up 7 studios, so we have dropped the “The Okanagan” from our title and run the class in all of our locations across British Columbia and Alberta at the same time annually.
The first class was very different from what we offer now. The vision was that we could have a DJ + a bunch of yoga teachers on the rooftop of oranj, and we could close down Lawrence Ave for a few hours and flow on the street, literally stopping traffic with our downward dogs. That didn’t fly with the landlords or the city…. Obviously…. So we took over the parking lot across the road, still had a dj and a bunch of yogis flowing under the sun and it was rad. We had a blast.
We now have a long standing reservation in Stuart Park, with a beautiful view of the Lake, and a space that can hold our class of 400-600 yogis, maybe more this year?
We run the class from 9am – 10:15am, with live music or a dj. This year we have the wonderful Britghtside Dj’s accompanying us for the 3rd year in a row. We always start the class with a light-hearted, fun little dance warm up…. Do not be scared if you read my last post. Femme Fatale is not leading this warm up! It’s more of a step clap, high-five your neighbour, with maybe a little running man type dance… It’s not hard, it’s silly and always a blast. Then we have 4 glorious yoga instructors lead us through a 75 minute all levels practice. Now we don’t offer hot yoga at the studio, but we are in the Okanagan, so it may or may not be a little warm. We have always had amazing weather, so by the end of class it tends to be around 20-25 degrees. We have never had rain (fingers crossed) so wear your sunscreen and maybe a hat and sunglasses, there is a small sliver of shade, but you got to get there early to snag that spot. We end class, like all yoga classes with a blissful savasana, and we usually have a little gift for you at the end of the class. We finish with hugs and high fives and have everyone on their way to continue their Sunday Funday before 11am. This year the team and I are heading to Crosby Organics Farm for a peachy party after class.
The experience is probably enough for the average person, hanging with good company, listening to sweet tunes, under the sun, in your stretchy pants, but we got more.
The class is run as a fundraiser for our charity “Mats for Metta”. After 5 years of hosting the event as a fundraiser to our local food bank, we started this charity. Mats for Metta works to make Yoga more accessible to our local community by providing mats, props, and sometimes instructors to organizations or schools that otherwise may not have access to yoga. In the past we have donated to The Boys and Girls Club, CMHA, The Bridge, The Foundry, JoAnnas House, ARC programs for youth and many local schools to name a few. This year we are looking for organizations to donate to if you know of anyone.
At the end of the class we call up a representative to the stage and donate our mats right there, so you can see who the mats are going to.
All the details are on the Facebook page! This practice to open to everyone if you love yoga, have never done yoga, you do yoga in your living room, you do yoga at the beach, or you have taken one yoga class because your friend dragged you. You are welcome to join us, this day is for the entire Okanagan community, not just Oranj. All ages are welcome to practice with us 7 – 97 roughly…. And if you have little ones that are younger than that then we will be providing childcare at the event, free of charge. July 21 is the date. The fictitious doors open at 8:30, and class starts at 9am. You will have the amazing Keith, Laura, Tessa + Lindsey leading the class with Brett as our dance leader and Holly as our Emcee! It’s a real family affair. Bring a cash donation of whatever you can and bring water, a yoga mat, and some friends or family. You do not need to pre-register, just show up, try not to be late and flow with us!
We also have a small little market popped up before and after the class. We have samples from local wellness vendors, and it is a nice way to meet and connect with your community. If you have any questions, or want to be involved in any way please reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.