There is an event for everyone with Madrid for Refugees, which is how I found myself lying in Retiro Park this past week alongside ten or so other international yogis.
It was starting to cool off, with the sun in that twilight spot that casts soft light on the trees. The sounds of birds and joggers faded into the background as our guide, Eleanor from Yoga Loto, introduced herself and led us in a few guided breaths, allowing the busyness of the day to float away. By the end of our 90-minute class, we were relaxed from head to toe and feeling good about doing a bit on a regular Tuesday to help support a good cause.
Because besides the obvious benefits of yoga—things like connecting with your breath, improving your posture, and taking a moment to focus on your mental and physical strength—these sessions directly benefit Madrid for Refugees. Classes are donations based, with all proceeds donated to MFR and Proactiva Open Arms.
If you want to give classes a try, here’s what to expect: After meeting at the Ángel Caído statue in Retiro Park, you’ll take a quick walk to an enclosed grassy area. Once everyone settles in class begins with a short meditation and breathing exercise, allowing you to clear your mind and begin to turn your focus inward. Next, you’ll be led through a flow of sun salutations to warm up your body and make your muscles burn. Hatha postures—which stretch you while working on balance and strength—round out the standing portion of the session. The hour and a half long class will finish with deep yin stretches and a guided relaxation that moves from the tips of your toes to the crown of your head.
Who can attend? Don’t be intimidated if you’re a yoga newbie, classes are accessible to all levels. Eleanor talks the class through each posture, beginning with the most simple forms and then offering more intense variations based on what your level of ability.
What should you bring? A yoga mat is all you really need, though many choose to use a towel (the grass is already soft). There’s no set cost to attend, but be sure to bring a cash donation. Previous classes have raised between 80-200€ per meeting!
When can you attend? Yoga classes have finished for the summer, but don’t worry! Eleanor expects to continue providing two classes per month, resuming when she returns to Madrid in September. Once the weather is too chilly to practice in Retiro Park, meetings will be moved to an indoor studio. In the meantime, be sure to like MFR on Facebook or check the Events page to receive notifications when classes resume!