At Red Rocks, striking poses

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Yoga on the Rocks draws thousands

By Corinne Westeman

Looking out over Red Rocks Amphitheatre early Saturday morning, the rows were filled with a dazzling rainbow of bright colors — pinks, blues, greens, yellows, purples and reds. The colors were as diverse as the participants who wore them — men and women; children and seniors; novices and experts; families and groups of friends.

Almost 2,500 yogis — those who practice yoga — took part in Saturday’s Yoga on the Rocks, the sixth of this season’s eight sessions. The popularity of outdoor yoga on a large scale and in a unique setting resulted in every session being sold out within a few weeks of when tickets went on sale last spring.

Saturday’s session started about 7 a.m. as instructor Heather Peterson of Core Power Yoga greeted the participants with a hearty, “Good morning, Red Rocks!” The crowd responded with cheers.

“I’ve waited my whole life to say that,” Peterson added.

For the next hour, Peterson led the yogis through a typical session, transitioning from one set of poses to the next. As they started with “inhale cow, exhale cat,” collective breaths were clearly audible in the amphitheater.

Most of the participants had mats as diverse as their clothing. Some were in bright colors; others had natural designs or inspirational sayings. One mat read, “After this, we’re getting pizza.”

As the yogis began to wind down and conclude their session, Peterson played an instrument and sang a soothing melody to help the participants relax.

“Let gravity hold your body radically open,” she said. “Waves of emotion and energy get amplified here … and we must amplify the power of love and life in this world.”

For Ruby Benison of Littleton, it was her first time at Yoga on the Rocks. She said the venue was accessible and that — even with the large number of participants — it felt comfortable and not too crowded.

“There’s nothing better than this,” Benison said of practicing yoga at Red Rocks. “You feel the love. It was a wonderful event, and it felt like an all-levels class.”

As Nick Kingston of Littleton walked up the amphitheater stairs to the collection of vendors, he said he enjoyed practicing yoga in the sunlight and fresh air.

“(Yoga on the Rocks) is a great way for like-minded people to come together,” Kingston said, adding that Saturday was his second time at the event. “It feels good and more connected, because it forces you to get away from your cell phone and other stuff, and be more connected to nature.”

The various vendors near the main entrance offered samples of organic foods and drinks and other items with a backdrop of live music. Colorado Threads had a booth featuring locally made Colorado-themed yoga pants, shirts and bandanas. Alisha Hanson of Denver, who was helping at the booth, said the vendors see a great deal of foot traffic at the Yoga on the Rocks events.

“People appreciate the Colorado love, and it’s good souvenirs for out-of-state visitors,” Hanson said, adding that earlier Saturday she had met people from Georgia and North Carolina who were attending the session.

Hanson said she had participated in the yoga sessions previously when she wasn’t working the Colorado Threads booth. She described Red Rocks as “the best place to do (yoga).”

“It’s such a beautiful location, and it’s like nothing else,” she continued. “Anything you can do at Red Rocks is great.”

Walking among the participants and vendors, Erica Smith and her daughter Morgan — who was sporting an “I love yoga” shirt — were preparing to head back to their home in Morrison. Smith said she has participated in Yoga on the Rocks since its inception four years ago, and typically brings one of her daughters along.

“It’s a beautiful way of connecting with people,” Smith said of the sessions. “In some respects it’s more challenging than a regular class, but it also gives you such a sense of peacefulness and being connected. It’s on a whole other level.”

Contact reporter Corinne Westeman at 303-350-1043 or cwesteman@evergreenco.com, and follow her on Twitter @cwesteman.