Practising yoga on Tuesdays at Parkdale-Cromdale Community League is a bit magical. Lanterns and fairy lights strung overhead create warm, cozy lighting and a relaxing atmosphere. 

The classes are free with a league membership, go from 7 to 8 pm, and have been running since the beginning of May.

Jesse Gros-Louis leads the yoga classes every week. Gros-Louis works at Commonwealth Community Recreation Centre pool, where he met Sebastian Barrera who is involved in CreArt at the league. 

Barrera asked if there was anything Gros-Louis would be interested in contributing to the community, in addition to his community-led work at the pool, and yoga was an area where Gros-Louis had experience and interest. 

His yoga classes are primarily hatha, a type of yoga which involves breathing, poses, and meditation. 

“I feel as far as being very open and wanting to have as many people start yoga as possible, [hatha] is the best place to start with the basics and not [get] too much all at once,” says Gros-Louis. 

Participants can try yoga at their own pace and comfort level. | Mya Colwell

Creating a welcoming environment for everyone is why he doesn’t use much flow yoga, which can be more daunting, especially to beginners. 

“If you start with flow yoga you’re just like… ‘I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t keep up,’” says Gros-Louis. 

It is also important to work on flexibility before jumping into something more complex, like flow yoga. Once you tackle the basics of flexibility and gain more knowledge of poses, Gros-Louis says it’s easier to move into more complex types of yoga. 

The class was slow paced and easy to follow, even for a yoga novice like myself. Gros-Louis patiently took participants through poses and provided options to make a pose less strenuous or more difficult, depending on comfort level. 

There was absolutely no pressure, and it was a welcoming environment to learn and keep active. 

“The best part about teaching is just [that] I’m part of the community. Everyone is a part of the community. I like [people] supporting each other,” adds Gros-Louis. “It’s fantastic.”

Gros-Louis asks that participants bring their own yoga mat to class. 

For more information about the weekly yoga classes, visit parkdalecromdale.org/events-1.