There are several parks in the Bournemouth area which offer free yoga sessions on Sunday mornings during the summer months. I have tried yoga once before, but not successfully; my daughter and I attended a rather cliquey class, where the instructor stood at the front calling out the moves and when we didn’t know what to do, those around sniggered and gave us disparaging glances, so we did a runner. Unfortunately, we forgot we had left our shoes in the gym and had to run back in, claim our shoes and do a second runner.
Park Yoga is a charity which provides free community yoga at 33 venues across the UK, including four in the Bournemouth area. Sessions are advertised as being suitable for beginners of all ages and abilities, so I decided to give it another go.
Sessions take place from 9.30 am until 10.30 am on Sundays throughout the summer. The dates for 2023 run from 7 May until 17 September.
Sessions are free but participants are asked to make a donation if they are able.
Bournemouth – Central Gardens
Bournemouth – Central Gardens classes take place in the centre of Bournemouth in the Central Gardens, opposite the Town Hall. There is plenty of roadside parking along Bourne Avenue and Braidley Road. Charges are in operation after 10 am, when it costs £2.10 for an hour (although you should be able to get away with 40 minutes, which costs £1.40). Part way up Braidley Road, parking becomes free, but spaces can be hard to find. Buses number 1/1a/1b/M2/M2/5/5a all stop in Bournemouth Square, a 5 minute walk away.
Bournemouth – Slades Park
Bournemouth – Slades Park takes place next to the Pavilion in Slades Park. The park is 3 miles north of central Bournemouth and has a free car park. Bus 5a stops at Howeth Road, a 5 minute walk away.
Christchurch classes take place on the Quomps on Christchurch Quay. Christchurch is 6 miles east of Bournemouth. There is a car park at Christchurch Priory. Parking costs £2 for 2 hours. Alternatively, park at Bank Close for £1 for 2 hours, and walk 10 minutes. Buses 1/1a/1b stop at fountain Way, also a 10 minute walk.
Poole classes take place in Poole Park, next to the jungle play area. Poole Park is 5 miles west of Bournemouth along the A338/A35. There are free car parks within the park. Buses M1 and M2 stop at Longfleet Road Garage, a 5 minute walk away.
Bend it Like Boscombe
There are also park yoga sessions on Sunday Mornings in Shelley Park in Boscombe. These are a separate entity run by The Parks Foundation; a charity devoted to enhancing Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole’s parks and green spaces for everyone to enjoy.
Classes take place in Shelley Park adjacent to the tennis courts. There is a free car park. Buses 1/1a/1b/M2 stop at Portman Road, a 6 minute walk away.
The Boscombe classes are at the later time of 10 am until 11 am and run throughout the summer, starting in May.
Classes are free, but a donation to the charity is encouraged.
These are the closest classes to my house. So, despite being the least bendy person in the world, I decided to give it a try. On a rather chilly Sunday morning, I set off for Shelley Park, which is in the grounds of the Shelley Manor. The Manor was built by Percy Florence Shelley, son of Mary Shelley the author of Frankenstein. Worried about his mother’s ailing health, Percy thought living by sea would be good for her, so had a house built in Boscombe. Unfortunately, Mary died before the house was completed. The grounds are now a public park.
For a cold, windy day, attendance was much higher than I’d expected. This time, the instructor was much more explainey (not a word, I know) and demonstrated the moves with explanations. I really enjoyed the session, both the exercises and working out in the open air. Just what I needed to break me in gently to the bendy world of yoga. An event I shall pencil in my diary for future Sundays.
The Parks Foundation also organises free Tai Chi classes at Shelley Park on Thursdays at 10 am through the summer.
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