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Taking it to the parks, community fitness course brings yogis of all kind together

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Story and photos by Andrea Papagianis

Whether one can barely touch their toes while watching Seinfeld reruns or shows up an entire studio class by doing scorpion handstands, classes held at Dana Point’s Lantern Bay Park can be tailored to fit all yogi needs.

From the young to the old and everyone in between, locals gather each morning to practice asanas, or yoga body positions, and take in the sights and sounds of this coastal community.

Since 2008, south Orange County native Elsa Stephen has taught outdoor yoga classes to all who’ve come. And from a small group of friends every Tuesday in the first year to the more than a hundred who gather now, Stephen has brought a fast-paced style of yoga to the community.

“These classes are geared toward beginners,” Stephen said, of the classes that attract all walks of life. “It is more fitness based than chanting and breathing,” she said, so people from every culture, religion and background can feel comfortable.

Stephen and her small staff of instructors hold classes daily no matter the weather, no matter how many people show up and no matter their level of skill. On any given day, yoga mats form a brightly colored patchwork atop the park’s lawn as dozens of yogis breath from downward facing dog through their chaturanga, a challenging push up, to soak in the sun in upward facing dog.

Speaking of which, many participants come with Fido in toe.

“It is just me and my coffee can. I am not business oriented,” Stephen said. “This all happened organically and I would love to build this brand.”

I Heart Yoga in the Park holds classes each morning 365 days a year, rain or shine, at Lantern Bay Park at 10 a.m. From now through August, Stephen offers hour-long sunset classes starting at 6:30 p.m. and has a stand-up paddleboard class scheduled for 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, August 24 at the OC Dana Point Harbor’s Baby Beach.

Daily classes are donation based with a recommended fee of $8 a class. For more information, visit

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About The Author Dana Point Times

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  • Yoga, when done early in the morning in park brings a lot of benefits to the individual. Yoga in park is a form of exercise that involves the physical, spiritual and verbal health of the individual.

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