A changed life in Nevada City; Outdoor yoga classes start May 15 in Pioneer Park
When she was 17, Mariah Simpson discovered herself.
At the time, she was “getting into trouble” back at home, so her parents sent her to a two-week intensive program in Hawaii where she learned life skills such as organic gardening, meditation and yoga.
“It changed my life,” said Simpson.
Now at 24, she is teaching hatha yoga three days a week at Inner Path Yoga and Meditation Center in Nevada City.
Beginning May 15, she’ll bring her yoga classes outdoors on the lawn at Pioneer Park.
“People really like the outdoor yoga. I think when you are outside and present in the body you can hear birds chirping and the breeze blowing. There’s something really peaceful about that and it enhances the whole experience,” she said.
Simpson learned early on the power of yoga to strengthen and heal the body. A back injury before her first trip to Hawaii, led her to a chiropractor that advised her to try yoga as therapy.
“It strengthens all the muscles, the core and the back so the bones can do what they need to do. It also improves posture and lays down calcium properly so bones stay strong as we age,” Simpson said.
Beyond that, yoga helped Simpson with issues like depression, anxiety and low self-esteem.
Simpson’s classes are designed for the beginner with limited flexibility and no past yoga experience. She says the classes are relaxing with no competition or pressure. Simpson encourages her students to trust their own bodies, something that doesn’t always come naturally.
“The way I teach my class, you do what feels comfortable and safe. Accepting where you are and where your body is, is huge. It takes a lot of patience. Not worrying about what other people think is one of the biggest challenges in life. So is trusting your own judgment and what the body can do,” she said.
Beginning hatha yoga includes lots of pausing between postures to allow people to tune into the feelings and openness that the poses create in the body, Simpson explained. Students have remarked they feel both calm and energized after a class.
In 2014, Simpson became a certified “level 1” yoga teacher after a month-long class at The Expanding Light of Ananda, a spiritual retreat center on the San Juan Ridge where she devoted 200 hours of intense study.
In some ways it was a homecoming for Simpson, who was born at Ananda and spent her formative first five years at the cooperative community.
“It definitely formed an early part of my early development, beliefs and outlook on life,” she said.
After becoming certified, she went on to develop a series of “Treks for the Spirit” outdoor yoga classes for Bear Yuba Land Trust last summer. In October of 2015, she began teaching morning classes as an independent contractor twice a week at Inner Path in downtown Nevada City. In February, she launched her website and business name, Yuba River Yoga.
Teaching yoga to others is a way Simpson gives back to her community.
“When I was in Hawaii, I did a lot of soul searching and I realized I wanted to do something to help people because yoga had helped me,” she said.
Mariah Simpson teaches classes from 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. Wednesdays and 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. Saturdays at Inner Path, 200 Commercial St., across the street from Three Forks Bakery and Brewing Co. parking lot.
Her outdoor yoga classes begin at 11 a.m. May 15, near the amphitheater in Nevada City’s Pioneer Park.
Wear stretchy clothes and bring: water, sunglasses, sunscreen, yoga mat or blanket and anything else needed to feel comfortable. The cost is $10.
Learn more, visit the website.
Contact freelance writer Laura Petersen at email@example.com or 530-913-3067.
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