‘Yoga in the garden’ at CBG
by Hannah Newlon-Trujillo | Special to the Courier
Like many good things in life, Sara Sawyer’s “yoga in the garden” class was born out of necessity.
She began teaching at California Botanic Garden during the pandemic, in June 2021, when COVID-19 guidelines prohibited groups from gathering in indoor spaces. The Garden provided a safe place to foster a community during a time that was isolating for so many.
Now two years later, Sawyer sees the classes as a chance for her students to be, “more involved and connected with nature.” Among chirping birds, the attendees meditate in the fresh air and stretch under a canopy; occasionally a rabbit will hop by their mats.
“It’s a hidden gem in Claremont,” Sawyer said.
Sawyer brings a vast range of experience as a dancer, gymnast, and competitive cheerleader to her yoga classes, which she began teaching in 2019. She’s since guided more than 1,000 classes, many outside.
Before each class, Sawyer asks her students which parts of their bodies need extra attention, then incorporates exercises tailored to their needs. She also hands out cards with “Not Today” on one side, and “Yes, Please!” on the other, so that students can choose to practice with or without Sawyer’s hands-on adjustments.
“It’s a very relaxing experience and we really just want to make sure when people come and enjoy the experience, they really do what’s right for them,” Sawyer said.
The hourlong meditation and yoga session is designed to accommodate all skill and experience levels, she said. Her students are diverse, from as far away as Palm Desert and Orange County, with vastly varying careers, and from all ages.
The secluded California Botanic Garden location offers a wholly unique venue, and after two years, Sawyer has observed the benefits of outdoor yoga.
“In yoga in the garden, the benefits are instead of focusing internally, you are allowing yourself to appreciate and externally expand,” Sawyer said.
The relationships with her students go beyond yoga. The teacher and her students discuss their jobs and family life. After class, Sawyer debriefs with her students, as if they are lifelong friends.
After a recent morning class, students strolled the gardens’ native plants and wildlife. “It’s nice to start the day off,” Sawyer said.
Yoga in the garden classes are $18, $12 for CBG members. Attendees should bring a yoga mat, water, and a towel. For more information visit calbg.org.