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Group yoga event to welcome the summer solstice

Brian Korthals/Daily Globe Certified yoga instructors Melissa Remme (left) and Margaret Vosburgh will lead a celebration of the summer solstice practicing yoga at Sailboard Beach on Lake Okabena in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- It may have started as a mid-spring night's dream, but if you spot a few dozen people in the down-dog position on Sailboard Beach at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, you'll know the idea has become a mid-summer reality.

Melissa Remme and Margaret Hurlbut Vosburgh, two local certified yoga instructors, both noticed an ad in Yoga Journal for an annual "Mind Over Madness" group yoga event that has taken place in New York's Times Square for the past nine years.

"More than 5,000 people from over 31 different countries congregate there," Remme said. "If you can find peace practicing yoga in Times Square -- a busy, crazy, frenetic place -- surely you can find it on Sailboard Beach.

"We'll have some distractions, too, with cars going by, maybe people on the path, but the lake will be a soothing backdrop."

Remme, who teaches yoga weekly at the Nobles County Art Center, and Vosburgh, who leads a senior chair yoga class through The Center and a hatha yoga class through District 518 Community Education, invite all interested people to join them for this outdoor yoga experience, which they stress will be accessible for a variety of ages and abilities.

"There's no fee to participate, and we welcome anyone of any age and any ability, from people who are well versed in yoga techniques to those who have never tried it before or are curious about it," Remme said.

"We wanted to create a greater awareness of yoga, celebrate the arrival of summer and get more people interested and involved," she continued. "It will probably be an hour-long class that will be very basic, very gentle, nothing advanced or strenuous."

"It will definitely be user-friendly yoga," Vosburgh said.

Participants should bring a mat if they have one -- several extras will be available for use -- or a beach towel.

"I thought that if they could shut down Times Square and do yoga, we could do it here," Vosburgh said. "Our goal is to make yoga more accessible for people, so all you have to do is come down to the beach with a mat or towel.

"It's a great way to usher in the summer. I know how difficult it can be to take an hour out of a day and do something just for yourself, but it's the longest day of the year," added Vosburgh.

Vosburgh is quick to tout the good things that hatha yoga's three structures -- breathing, exercise and meditation -- bring about for practicing yogis.

"The benefits I receive from yoga are amazing, and the stress release is incredible," Vosburgh said. "When we engage in an activity that is beneficial to us, that can only help those around us, and when we can learn to stay calm, that eventually helps the greater world.

"Everyone needs to be calm, to use our bodies and take care of ourselves. 'Yoga' should not be an intimidating word; it can be for everybody."

Remme agrees.

"Really, anyone is capable of doing yoga; there is no age limit," assured Remme. "I would encourage anyone to give it a try and see if it's for them, to learn about body awareness, breathing, relaxation and the overall benefits for mind, body and spirit from yoga."

Culligan Water Conditioning Company of Worthington will provide water and Schafer's Health Center will offer an energy bar for Tuesday's yoga participants. Remme and Vosburgh, who will team-teach the summer solstice yoga class, are grateful for the businesses' sponsorship and support and are hopeful the event will prove popular.

"I would be thrilled if even 20 to 25 people show up, but I expect our number will be greater than that," said Remme.

If the weather proves too inclement for outdoor yoga, signs will be posted at Sailboard Beach to alert folks to an alternate time or location.

But Vosburgh is "hoping for sunshine and fair weather," and Remme is optimistic the weather will cooperate for the year's longest day and this unique yoga opportunity.

"I did a little research on the summer solstice, and it's surprising how many cultures have associated the solstice with a renewal of body, spirit and mind," noted Remme. "We'll celebrate the joyfulness sunshine brings to our lives, and try to appreciate how much better our attitudes can be when the sun is shining."