Instructor Casey Hubbell leas the outdoor portion of a Yoga Wild parent-child class at Tacoma Nature Center. Credit: Nikki McCoy
“Hello friends,” the instructor says in a sing-song voice. “Welcome to Nature Yoga.”
My son and I are at a Yoga Wild class held at Tacoma Nature Center, one of many locations where Yoga Wild classes are offered around town. Designed to be family-friendly, the Nature Yoga program caters to kids ages 18 months to 12 years, along with their grown-up.
It’s Saturday morning and floor-to-ceiling windows in our yoga room create a backdrop of daylight and greenery. A circle of yoga mats fill the room. Adults and tweens sit cross-legged, a few toddlers sit in laps — a few others are already moving their bodies — and all of us are listening to instructor Casey Hubbell as we talk about what the “Om” means.
One kid shoots a hand into the air. “It’s being calm and helping others,” he offers. We all agree that “Om” is similar to “peace” and we practice the chant while also learning a few breathing techniques.
I glance over at my 10-year-old son and see that he’s absorbing Hubbell’s tips. She's explaining a good way to try to breathe when we are having big feelings. She's even got a breathing technique for cooling down after playing hard at recess. (Note: It’s been a week since class and we’ve already used these methods! It really does take a village.)
After this intro, it's time to fulfill a pillar of Yoga Wild's mission: Get outside.
“Part of our mission is to get Tacomans, old and young, out in their community, exploring parks, meeting organizations [that are] doing good and discovering beautiful spaces. Our venues are sprinkled throughout Tacoma and offer a great opportunity to see your city, meet your neighbors and practice self-care,” explains Hubbell, who co-founded Yoga Wild in 2018 with fellow mom Kelsey Alshememry.
On the grounds of Tacoma Nature Center, Hubbell leads us on a walk, narrating from the book “We're Going on a Bear Hunt.” Meeting each kid at their developmental level, she enhances the story by bringing movement and mindfulness to the adventures of slopping through mud and shivering through a snowstorm. She points out plants and trees in the 70-acre watershed park, and also clears up any confusion between a pine cone and a fir cone.
Back inside, we continue our workout. We flow through some sun salutations while the instructor offers adaptations for every age and ability. Most of the toddlers are fully engaged after getting their wiggles out on the nature walk; my son and I share a smile and groan as we power through some push-ups.
After wind-down, the kids help clean up, wiping and rolling their yoga mats for storage. The adults gather and chat about what a great class it was, and Hubbell tells us about the other family-friendly Yoga Wild classes.
One is a monthly session called Storytime Yoga: A Family Drop-In that takes place at The Curious Bear Toy & Book Shop in Fircrest. This event is geared toward kids ages 3–6 along with their grown-ups, though siblings of other ages are also welcome. The cost of the Storytime Yoga class illustrates another important aspect of Yoga Wild's mission: Everyone is welcome and cost shouldn't be a barrier.
Yoga Wild founders Hubbell and Alshememry met at the local YMCA and bonded over both their love of exercise and their frustration over the lack of accessible, affordable movement programming. The "mompreneurs" started Yoga Wild and made a commitment to offering affordable, sliding-scale community rates. For drop-in classes, including Storytime Yoga, community members pay along a self-selecting sliding scale: $10, $5 or $0 ("good vibes").
Yoga Wild's family-friendly programs include Nature Yoga, Storytime Yoga and a monthly Parents' Night Out for ages 2–10 (with older siblings welcome). I recommend checking out Yoga Wild's grown-up yoga classes, which take place at the Yoga Wild studio and at various interesting locations, such as at Dune Peninsula and the Tacoma Night Market. There are also class series with different themes, such as yoga for English-language learners.
These options serve the Yoga Wild mission of making yoga more accessible and inclusive for all, especially those of us raising kids. Hubbell and Alshememry understand that people give and support local businesses in different ways, by bringing a friend to class or posting a picture or writing a review. Their sliding-scale pricing offers students a way to pay that serves them best.
If you go…
Nature Yoga: Nature Yoga, offered with Metro Parks Tacoma, takes places Saturdays, Oct. 5, Nov. 2 and Dec. 7, 9:30–10: 45 a.m., at Tacoma Nature Center. The class is designed for ages 18 months and older, along with their grown-up. Cost is $15; register online.
Storytime Yoga: A Family Drop-In: Story time takes places Tuesdays, Sept. 25, Oct. 30, Nov. 20 and Dec. 18, 11–11:45 a.m., at The Curious Bear Toy & Book Shop in Fircrest. The class is designed for ages 3–6 with their grown-up, though siblings are welcome. Cost is on a sliding scale, $0–$10; register online.
To learn about and sign up for more classes and programs, visit beyogawild.com.