Rasha al Raisi – In 2014, The Andalusian Yoga Institute started its annual event of: Yoga en la Plaza, where practitioners gather in an open space for yoga public. The event is done to raise awareness about yoga that is becoming a recognised national sport here.
I had the pleasure to be invited to attend the 3rd event of Yoga en la Plaza, that took place on October 20 in Plaza Picasso. Malaga takes pride in being the city of Picasso’s birth, though he only spent the first eight years of his life here. The plaza has his birth house, a museum of his work and of course the famous bronze sculpture of him sitting on a chair looking at the plaza (where tourists pose next to him, with hands full of shopping bags).
It was my first experience to do yoga in open air with almost one hundred other practitioners, wearing sunglasses as it was five in the afternoon. I arrived and helped the others to spread and tape the big mats on the floor in front of the main stage, before taking a place at the end of the plaza under a tree (an Arab woman’s natural preference).
The atmosphere around me was a happy relaxed one, with families coming to practice together, individuals with their dogs trotting behind them and group of friends greeting each other and looking for close spots.
In the corner, I watched a group of children of different ages gathered with their hippie looking instructor. Passers-by stopped to watch or sat on the chairs surrounding us, mostly tourists and old people. The event started after five thirty with a bit of stretching activities, followed by a variation of the sun salute.
Being at the back, it was hard for me to hear half of the instructions clearly, as the speakers weren’t clear and the noise of the cafes behind us was distracting. I was following whatever the people in front of me were doing (and of course fell on my side when doing one of the difficult poses. Typical!). I was enjoying the harmonious atmosphere, thinking that it couldn’t get any better, when I heard the first loud snigger coming from the back. I decided to ignore it. When we bent for the dog pose I heard a rude comment and my eyes opened wide in astonishment, yet I thought to myself: maybe it’s my limited knowledge of Spanish. But when the man next to me started laughing, I knew that I understood right! I turned my head expecting to see a teenager, instead I saw a man with a long grey hair clapping the back of his laughing mate. Classy.
Then came the time for my least favourite yoga practice, meditation. I’m one of many who can’t meditate as my brain never stops ticking. While everyone else lay on the ground and closed their eyes in the dead man pose as the instructor blabbered about breathing techniques, my eyes flung open automatically. I fixed my gaze on the tree branches and the high blue sky above me and waited for the meditation to end.
And then out of a sudden, I heard a celestial voice accompanied by music, singing in a language that I didn’t understand. I raised myself a bit to see a woman on the stage singing. She then invited others to repeat after her the mantra: Loka samastha sukhino bhavantu.(Happiness for all beings). I smiled and watched others sing happily around me. A perfect ending for an hour of pure peace and solidarity.
Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and the author of:
The World According to Bahja. firstname.lastname@example.org