Free Waterfront Yoga with Michelle Timek

I love yoga. I really, really love yoga. Like many yogis (most? all?), I've struggled over the years with the motivation to get into a studio or simply step onto my mat on a regular basis. But I've mostly overcome that struggle post-baby, because when the too-rare-for-my-liking chance presents itself to practice, I take it. I know how I feel the second I lay down my mat, and better yet how I feel when the practice is over: as good as humanly possible.

After leaving my career the first time (i.e. HouseMom take one, before I began the freelancing mayhem that currently makes me loca todos las dias), I considered beginning yoga teacher training so I could just park it in a yoga studio all day. But I can't do that anyway at this point in my life, so I practice when and where I can.

Like many things in Jersey City that were new-and-sounded-awesome-but-I-never-tried-them when we moved here last summer, such was the case with Michelle Timek's free yoga on the waterfront. She holds a monthly class on the second Saturday of the month (the same schedule as the Pacific Flea, so you can just link up those two things in your mind and vow not to miss either) at Exchange Place to the right of the Hyatt out on the pier (officially called J. Owen Grundy Park, if you want to be official about things). Even cooler? This is her fifth year doing so. What an incredible gift to the yogis of Jersey City. Thank you, Michelle!

The words "free yoga on the waterfront" sounded equally awesome to me in May of this year when Michelle kicked off the 2015 season, but I was out of town (for that long stretch where I missed many of the firsts of the season = boo), so I still couldn't try it.

But luckily, her team captured the first class of this season in 22 seconds (click play on the video below) and even luckier, her June session was on my birthday eve. Thank you again, Michelle, that was too kind of you, really! [youtube]

The above video is fairly reminiscent of what happened today. Except in person it's way cooler. I set myself up right in front because I always like a view. And how's this for a view?

It suited me just fine. More than fine. Splendidly, in fact.

But I also wanted to be at the front so I could take this photo, because in my mind, it was the shot of the century. Exaggeration. Kind of. Blame it on the art directors who have surrounded me day in and day out for the past ten years for inspiring the idea. Not the execution. We should neither blame nor credit anyone else for that one.

But less about my weird yoga photo ideas, and more about Michelle and free yoga on the waterfront, yes?

Michelle is incredibly warm, fun and sweet. She mistook me for a friend before class and came over to say hello, but I was glad she did so that I had the opportunity to introduce myself and thank her for this offering she gives to the city. She gave me a welcoming hug and encouraged me to have fun and capture the experience in photos (no encouragement needed, but permission is nice!) and also told me about her super adorable yoga pants. With so many people on the pier joining in this practice, I felt very welcomed by her individual hello.

One thing I noticed very quickly in this class was its familiarity to the Strala style (if you're not familiar, check it here) of exploring some movement within an asana and doing what feels good to you and your body. I follow Tara Stiles, but I've never taken a class at one of her studios. Michelle's class felt similar to what I imagine a Strala-based class to be (and that's a good thing).

Despite being a breezy flow, the class was tough. At least, it was as tough as you wanted to make it. I came flying out of the gate, probably because I was excited about this entire situation, and ended in a few child's poses in lieu of downward dogs at the end. I was beat. But happy, with that as "good as humanly possible" feeling settling in.

A team of volunteers help Michelle run the occasion (100 people in a free yoga 'class' is no small feat of organization), all of whom were so friendly and welcoming. Each attendee was given a water bottle from the city and a little raffle ticket because at the end of each free yoga on the waterfront class, Michelle raffles off a host of prizes from local wellness businesses (amazing prizes, I might add, all of which I was chanting, "please let me win this!" under my breath, but the #ineverwinraffles curse lives on, not even on birthday eve).

Prizes or no prizes, we were all winners in this situation. After the bike ride last weekend, this was a great weekend follow up that again hit home the unity in this city.

Me in a happy, happy place.

Me in a happy, happy place.

After class ended, I asked Michelle for a photo. We decided to do dancer pose, which went like this (hint: not well for me):

If you can't make it to free waterfront yoga this summer (I'm not buying that you can't, but that's up to you), check her out around town 70 Greene Street or 10 Regent Street. Michelle has a variety of pre- and postnatal classes, which I wrote about a couple months ago (remember?). Michelle's full schedule of classes is available here.

Check Michelle out on the interwebs: