Yoga enthusiasts were able to practice in Aubrey Park on Saturday when Mello Yoga became the first Poway business to rent park space under the City of Poway’s new initiative.
Called the “Sharing Our Space” or SOS initiative, the City Council approved the use of park space for fitness-based businesses and houses of worship on July 15 during a special meeting.
Lisa Mello, owner of Mello Yoga, said she called Mayor Steve Vaus after hearing gyms would be shut down again in San Diego County under COVID-19 restrictions.
“I live in Poway,” Mello said. “I’m a local mom and business owner. We have the most beautiful parks and I thought, ‘I have to figure out how to teach yoga in the park.’”
Mello said Vaus agreed it was a great idea and brought the initiative before the council two days later. Mello said she was the “first on board” after the initiative was approved.
Her yoga class will be held three times a week in Aubrey Park, at 9 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. Mello also teaches two yoga classes a week outdoors at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. All of Mello Yoga’s other classes have been virtual while the business has been closed to the public.
Those wishing to participate in outdoor classes need to preregister, pay class fees and sign a waiver. This also allows easy touchless check-in, which reduces contact, Mello said.
Mello said she had 15 participants on Saturday for her first Poway outdoor class.
“That’s amazing, because (the class) had two days of notice,” she said.
Holding an outdoor yoga class does not require too many adaptations, Mello said. The instructor brings music and a microphone, and participants are required to space their yoga mats six feet apart. Masks are worn until participants are on their yoga mat and are required anytime they leave their mat. Instructor Torry Chamberlayne also asked participants to not exhale near others.
“We recreate what we do inside in the beautiful outdoors,” Mello said.
Ingrid Niesman, a regular patron, said she joined the outdoor class because she does not enjoy doing virtual classes alone.
“I did virtual (yoga) classes with my friend in her backyard, but I’m really glad to come back to the yoga community,” Niesman said. “It’s great we can do this outdoors and it’s great we live in California.”
Another longtime patron, Tara Colville, said she was relieved to be able to practice yoga in a safe environment.
“I was worried about being in an enclosed space,” Colville said. “This feels safe and it is incredibly beautiful.”
Colville said she also was glad to be able to connect with the community at a safe distance.
Liv Pike and her 11-year-old daughter, Taylinn, regularly do yoga together. Pike said she was “just thrilled” to be able to practice yoga.
“It’s beautiful outside and I’m thankful to the city for allowing this,” Pike said.
Rene Carmichael, the city’s community outreach coordinator, said Gymboree has also been approved for the SOS initiative. It will hold its first class on Aug. 6 in Silverset Park and classes will be held on Thursday and Saturday mornings.
Two other fitness-based business applications are being processed and additional fitness businesses and houses of worship have inquired into the process, she said.