Carl Brown’s Yoga in the Park Class Remains Strong, Flexible

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Carl Brown of Laguna Beach is a certified yoga instructor. Photo by Barbara McMurray

By Barbara McMurray, Special to the Independent

When the pandemic hit and closed city parks and beaches, Carl Brown’s outdoor yoga classes were forced to take a pause.

For more than 14 years, Brown, a certified yoga teacher and retired business executive, has taught intensive, 90-minute yoga classes every Monday, Thursday, and Saturday at 8 a.m. at Treasure Island Park.

“We’re going full tilt,” Brown said. “We got back up and running on June 13.”

The restart was a relief to his students, many of whom have attended the vinyasa-style classes for years. The classes are similar in style to Rodney Yee or Steve Ross “and approachable by any practitioner,” according to a flyer Brown offers on a nearby picnic table. Classes are described as level 1-2 but are rigorous. Students are warned that they need to know their own bodies and stay within their limits. As many as 25 students typically show up for Saturday classes, with a regular crew of 10 to 12 on weekdays. Brown teaches on holidays except for Christmas Day.

“We hold class pretty much rain or shine. Unless it’s raining pretty hard, we carry on,” he said.

Brown first offered classes in 2005 on the tennis courts at Moulton Meadows, then in Heisler Park. There were complaints about the use of a public park for his classes, so the silver-haired former National Guardsman obtained a letter from the city granting him permission since classes are donation-only. When the yogis moved their mats to the Treasure Island location, they agreed they had found nirvana, with the sound of crashing waves, the smell of salt air, blue sky and breezes.

Longtime student 87-year-old Sandy Weiss attends class three days every week. “This class saved my life. I don’t know what I’d do without it,” she remarked.

Lisa Farber, a student for 11 years, said simply, “You have to experience it.”

“You can feel your muscles lengthening,” observed Katherine Sutter, herself a certified yoga instructor. 

His first year of teaching the donation-based classes, Brown gave $10,000 to Friendship Shelter. For the last 13-plus years, every dollar has gone to Tara Abbey in Nepal to provide for classes, supplies, and expenses for 12 of the 40 young girls who live there.

Located in Swayambunath, on the outskirts of Kathmandu, the abbey is part of a nonprofit established in 1987 by Tibetan Buddhist monk Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche to aid impoverished people in Nepal, India and Tibet. It offers the only place for girls from poor families to get an education.

Improving female education will chip away at Nepal’s dismal childhood marriage rate, prevalent among less educated, poor women. Forty-one percent of Nepali women between ages 20 and 24 are married before the age of 18.

Astoundingly, Brown’s classes have generated more than $130,000 for the girls of the abbey, whom his wife, Linda, has visited three times. She and her meditation group bring gifts, spending money, and personal notes from the yogis.

Humbly stating the obvious, Brown commented, “I’m not in it for the money.”

For more information visit yogainthepark.blogspot.com.

Barbara is a writing, marketing, and public relations professional. Find her at mcmurraymarketing.com.

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