I never thought that something as simple as yoga would be banned from public parks.
Let me first say that I love Vancouver. I love the blend of city and nature, and the amount of green space in this city that makes it all possible. As Vancouverites, we are encouraged to get outside, be active, and enjoy nature. It’s all part of Vancouver’s vision for active living and getting outside.
So when the Vancouver Park Board announced that the free yoga classes held at Dude Chilling Park for the past few years would be cancelled and even risk getting fined if caught continuing, I was perplexed.
Some people enjoy parks by reading books, lazing in the grass, or walking around the perimeter. Others roll out yoga mats and perfect their warrior one pose. But despite the difference in these activities, one thing remains the same: last time I checked, all of these activities were harmless and — dare I say — fun.
But let’s say we put aside the fun for a hot second. Even so, I was brought up with the belief that as long as you aren’t physically or emotionally harming anyone, or any property, you can do whatever you like in a public space.
So yes, if you happen to be in warrior one and you have a flaming bow and arrow ready to fire into a crowd of people, I would go over there and fine you myself. Thankfully, most yogis are more focused on their breathing rather than their shooting accuracy.
Fun or not, parks are public spaces. As in, they are spaces for the public to enjoy in whatever way they see fit. To have the Vancouver Park Board police how people enjoy the city’s parks is simply ridiculous.
The Dude Chilling Yoga Collective, which runs these outdoor yoga classes, offers them for free. They encourage, but do not enforce, donations, and they never turn anyone away for lack of funds. As such, the class attracts many different types of neighbours of all different walks of life.
Should the collective one day charge fellow yogis an entrance fee to take part in the class and begin to turn serious profits from it, then I think that this could warrant the need for a permit or a license as it becomes a business. Otherwise, there really isn’t a difference between those in the collective versus a group of yoga enthusiasts who just happen to do their thing in the park. These people come to enjoy and use the park, just like anyone else, the way that parks should be enjoyed.
Eventually, the city might start targeting large groups of people playing touch football in an open field or a few people doing tai-chi. If the city continually tries to police how people enjoy the outdoors, I think that it’s safe to say that people might start disappearing from the parks all together.
So park-goers, beware: this might be the death of playing outside, and probably why Vancouver is called the ‘no-fun city.’