Thousands of people gathered on Sunday in Brussels’ Parc du Cinquantenaire, located between some of the city's major roads, to take part in a collective yoga class in the sixth edition of Brussels Yoga Day.
Unphased by the sounds of the busy city around them and under a changing sky, yogis of all levels and ages rolled out their mats under the park’s arcades and chanted, meditated and stretched in a two-hour class held in French, Dutch and English.
“It was amazing being outside and sharing this with so many people,” Stanka, 35, an administrative employee originally from Croatia said. “I was a bit hesitant [to come] at first —because of the French— but it was easy to follow.”
"It's nice to do yoga in the middle of the city," Valérie, a real-estate expert in Brussels, said, even if she admitted to preferring the previous editions, held in Bois de la Cambre. "At the beginning, I could hear the traffic and other noises, but in the end, this was a nice parenthesis within the city," she added.
Lisbeth and Karen came from Leuven with their children to join in the event.
"It was really magic. And when the sun came out it was a really relaxing moment," Karen said. "I think it's really important to realise that it's possible —with so many people around— to look inwards and to have a good meditation."
The young kids also participated in the class, and their favourite part was the series of sun salutations, which the instructor led the crowd through in French.
"They did their best! The meditation was a little difficult —they speak Dutch, so they could not understand all of it. But they were really motivated," she added.
The sun salutations were also the favourite part of the class for Javier, a 34-year-old Spaniard working in industrial automation in Brussels.
In his first Yoga Day in Brussels, Louvain-based Dr Mahdi Brown led the crowd through the last exercise of the class, a relaxing meditation.
"The image of the people was extraordinary — it's a feeling for that is personally very warming," he said. "I felt honoured to be a part of it and to share this moment with everyone."
Sunday’s free class marked the sixth edition of the event in Brussels, held in celebration of the International Day of Yoga on June 21, which sees many other major cities like New York, Paris and Berlin hold massive, open-air classes.
The Brussels Times