Spending time in the great outdoors is an ideal way to slow down and re-center a busy lifestyle, and the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks are home to free programs that can help people find peace and balance while enjoying fresh air and exercise. Many programs found on the Landmarks are great for long-distance hiking or cardio-centric exercise, but there are also programs that focus on slower-paced fitness and mental clarity. A variety of programs offer yoga and Tai Chi, and welcome nature lovers to stretch amidst sycamore groves, coast live oaks and wildflowers while staying in tune with their physical and mental well-being.
Tai Chi in the Canyon is a soothing and healthy reoccurring program that’s held in OC Parks’ Black Star Wilderness Park. The ancient Chinese art of Tai Chi is renowned for its many benefits, and a great option for people looking for a mild workout. The non-stressful exercises are physical but also offer meditative qualities, and can help outdoor enthusiasts energize their internal energy and strengthen their muscles. The first hour of the class focuses on beginning students and includes gentle warm up exercises, and the class moves on to challenge more experienced participants.
The Landmarks are also home to multiple yoga programs, giving nature lovers more opportunities find peace and balance on the Landmarks. The Meditative Yoga and Meadow Walk in the City of Irvine’s Bommer Canyon is a relaxing combination of hiking and yoga. Nature lovers hike around a 1-mile loop while strolling through surrounding meadows and taking in the sights of the Irvine Open Space Preserve. The hike will lead back to its starting point where a yoga class begins under a canopy of sycamores. The class spans one-and-a-half hours, with 45 to 60 minutes dedicated to a wonderful morning of yoga.
“We see people come for one yoga program and then it becomes a regular part of their fitness routine,” Raetz said. “We love seeing the mix of returning and first-time participants at the yoga activities, and the best part is that the classes are set up so everyone can stay in their comfort zone. Novices and experienced yoga lovers alike enjoy these programs.”
Another yoga program offered on the Landmarks is YIKING: Cardio and Yoga, in Orchard Hills in the City of Irvine. Once again hiking is combined with yoga to add a new dimension to fitness routines. YIKING offers views of a scenic avocado orchard with the West Loma Ridge rising alongside, and views of the Pacific coastline. The soothing outdoor exercise continues with Flow Yoga in the Hills, another yoga program in the City of Irvine. Flow Yoga in the Hills focuses on vinyasa-style yoga that will keep attendees continuously moving and flowing through different poses.
All activities on the Landmarks are free with required pre-registration, which closes at 4 p.m. the day prior to each event. Some programs are suitable for children 12 and over, and children must be accompanied by a parent or adult guardian. For yoga, Tai Chi, and all other programs it’s important to wear appropriate clothing and footwear, and bring yoga mats, snacks and water. For more details on stewardship programs on the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks visit LetsGoOutside.org/activities.