Gentle Stretching in Nature

This past Wednesday Dayle and I participated in the first of two Gentle Stretching in Nature classes hosted by Sierra Club. Earlier predictions were for showers but the morning dawned partly sunny, perfect temperature for a light jacket. We brought along sunscreen and non-DEET, environmentally friendly bug repellant that was appreciated by the participants to keep the mosquitoes at bay.

Located in the north central part of the City, Conservation Drive Park is one of many beautiful parks in Brampton. On the east side there are two regularly used baseball diamonds for organized sports activities. To the west, the path winds along the edge of the Etobicoke Creek valley where forest and meadowland comingle creating wonderful habitat for wildlife.

Our instructor, Susan, got us started with a few heal and toe ankle and calf stretches on one foot. It’s more difficult than it looks.

Then we did some deeper hip stretches which is also wonderful for relieving stress in the lower back. I could have stayed in that posture all day!

We heard the songs of several different birds as we walked along the trail towards our next stretching stop, Dayle has a really neat free app on her phone called MERLIN. This app helped us identify the bird species we were listening to by recording the sounds through the phone! You can also take a picture of the bird and MERLIN will most likely be able to tell you what kind it is. A lot easier than carrying binoculars and a field guide!

This is called “Warrior Pose” in Yoga. One does feel rather strong and invincible standing in this pose for a minute or two while surveying the lush valley below.

This stretch is called, “Drawing the bow”. It’s a great exercise for neck, shoulder and chest muscles.
Notice we are standing beside one of the protectors covering the nest of a snapping turtle. She just laid her eggs the day before. These boxes are installed and monitored by the Heart Lake Turtle Troopers another BEA organizational member.

Next Susan showed us the “Tree Pose”, arms in the air standing on one foot, sometimes with our eyes closed. This exercise improves our balance by helping us reconnect our minds with the small nerve endings in our bones. That way we know where we are in space without using visual cues. Leo was so happy to learn this he seems to be creating his own sunshine!

It was great to learn how to lift heavy objects safely…

And wonderful to stretch out calves, using the bridge as a prop, and watching the fish swimming in the stream beneath out feet.

Everyone in the small class enjoyed the event. If you missed this one, next week presents another opportunity. Register here for the June 22nd class that will be offered behind Loafer’s Lake Recreation Centre.

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