Since 1894, Labor Day has been witnessed as a federal holiday to pay tribute to the working class, and many Oxford community members celebrated the day of relaxation with yoga in the Grove.
As the sun began to beam through the oak trees in the Grove this morning, yogis and beginners alike gathered on the flat surface beneath the stage with an array of various colored yoga mats.
RebelWell, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation and Southern Star Yoga Center collaborated again for the fourth annual Labor Day Yoga in the Grove.
Today is a celebration of the work force, Stevi Self, co-owner of Southern Star Yoga, said to the crowd. He urged them to collectively enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to be at Yoga in the Grove and have “a moment of tranquility.”
Participants sat cross-legged on their mats, ready to unite the mind, body and spirit amid the soft music, chirping of the cicadas and sounds of children playing.
“Let yourself be absorbed by this beautiful place in the company of friends and community members,” Self said. “With your eyes closed, start to take in the sensation of the ground beneath your body, the sounds of nature – feel the natural movement of your breath.”
Participants placed their hands underneath their shoulders and knees underneath their hips in a tabletop position, exhaled, rounded their spines upwards like a cat stretching its back, inhaled, then let their bellies sink toward the ground with their chests and tailbones up.
Dana Sartin, a second-year graduate student, was there with her boyfriend, Jeffrey Agre, who is visiting from Memphis.
Sartin said that whenever Agre visits, he looks up activities for them to do in Oxford and found out about the free yoga class online.
Southern Star instructors, ready to assist if needed, walked around the bodies focused on standing balanced in tree pose, the sole of the right foot placed on the inner calf or thigh of the left leg, arms and heads reaching up toward the sky.
“It’s always good to see so many different people come together – different ages and different colors and different backgrounds,” Elizabeth Speed, who works at Good Food for Oxford Schools and attended Labor Day Yoga for the third time, said. “It’s always just fun.”
As the hour wound down, participants transitioned onto their backs for the final relaxation pose. Everyone lay with palms open to the sky, muscles loose and eyes closed, soaking up the results of the day’s stretches.
The class came to a close, and community members rolled up their mats, took swigs of water and chatted about the yoga practice and their plans for the rest of the day.
Freshman accounting major Jillian Bockhorst said she saw an Instagram post about the event and was excited to come out and try yoga for the first time.
“It was a lot harder than I thought it was going to be,” Bockhorst said.
Annie Haymans, who works at LaRousse Salon and Spa, brought her three children, George-Stouton, 9, Worth, 7, and Katherine-Ann, 5, to Yoga in the Grove.
Haymans said her elder two children participated more than her youngest, Katherine-Ann, who smiled and giggled in agreement.