EDINBURG — H-E-B Park, the outdoor venue where soccer fans are usually cheering after a goal has been scored, was turned upside down Saturday morning as calmness, serenity and Zen took its place for the second annual Namaste at the Park.
Approximately 200 people laid out their exercise mats on the soccer field under the partially sunny skies for a 75-minute yoga session by instructors Christina Martinez and Nyssa Fox from Casa OM Yoga.
Martinez, founder of Casa OM Yoga studio, began the event a year ago in memory of her mother, who died of Alzheimer’s. Proceeds go to the local Alzheimer’s foundation.
“I dreamt it. I just wanted a space where everybody could get together and would have space. The studios here are small and on Saturdays when we’re full, we have people walk away, so I wanted a space for everybody to come and get their yoga in and nobody would leave,” Martinez said. “Then, I thought, my mother passed away with Alzheimer’s and what I could I do to honor my mother and the Alzheimer’s foundation.”
Martinez, who entered the world of yoga four years ago after looking at a photo of a lady in a yoga pose and thought how could someone hold a pose without being considered muscular.
“I began doing research and at the same time, my son was a collegiate ball player and had pains and I was stretching him at home, not knowing that I was doing yoga,” Martinez said. “I would tell him, ‘just breathe like this’ and as I was researching, it says stretching with breath and that’s exactly what I was implementing at home during his practices. The more I learned, I realized I was doing yoga without it being called yoga.”
Martinez, who is also an instructor, shares her space with partner and co-founder, Nyssa Fox. Together they run the McAllen studio, which is located on Hackberry Avenue and Main Street and serves people of all ages.
“Yoga is connecting with the breath and begins to calm anxiety, thoughts begin to settle and get familiar with what’s going on and get present and focused,” she said. “It’s just a time that you can be present with your breath and feel what’s going on and feel your surroundings and a connection of mind, body and soul.”
She tells students “leave everything at the door, and let your thoughts settle and let your body move and let your heart settle and let your thoughts calm and quiet.”
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, “studies suggest that practicing yoga (as well as other forms of regular exercise) might have other health benefits such as reducing heart rate and blood pressure, and may also help relieve anxiety and depression.”
She also gave some daily tips to follow.
“Always take deeps breaths, focus on one thing at a time instead of thinking about the to-do list and kids and grocery shopping,” Martinez said. “Think of what needs to happen right now and do your best and live in the now, show up and try your hardest with one task at a time and do it with intention and be present.”
Catia Hernandez Holm from Weslaco was one of the students in attendance, stretching her muscles during the morning exercise.
“I had done yoga before, but their (Christina and Nyssa) energy is so awesome that I just want to do yoga with them. They are so loving and encouraging and just want the best for you and make you get out of your house and drive to see them,” Holm said. “They just provide a great community space for people to grow and are incredibly spiritual.”
When the yoga session wrapped up, rain entered the skies above with many attendees calling the moment a holy shower from up above.