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By Chris Frost
Ventura-- It was a beautiful day at Marina Park on Labor Day, but one group, Pop Up Yoga, went the extra mile and held a benefit for victims of the NorCal fires.
The group found its peace, showed off some pretty slick moves, and spent a couple of hours making their world a better place.
The group got involved with helping the Thomas Fire victims, and when the Norcal Fires started causing havoc, they knew they had to do.
"Two and a half years ago, we did the Thomas fundraiser and raised $30,000 with other organizations in one day," Owner Jessy Raspiller said. "My hearts been going out to NorCal, and I wanted to support all those people."
The group started at the park with the intent of getting people comfortable with a yoga studio. Pop Up Yoga pops up all over Ventura.
"We started here as friends six years ago, and it has turned into a community," she said. "Our mission is to get people to try yoga, who may have been intimidated in the past. We were also picking up trash before and leaving our spaces and places better than we found them."
Pop Up Yoga requires no specific skill, Raspiller said, and its group motto is to come as you are to yoga in the wild.
"We want to celebrate the space where we live, as well as embodying the essence of yoga," she said. "We remind people to breathe, especially during these crazy times. We're getting them to move their bodies in ways that might feel uncomfortable at first, but people like Laura, the instructor, are good at finding ways to tap in and find ways that work for them."
Although she started with yoga 16 years ago, 12 years ago, she learned that it was more than the movements.
"It's the philosophy of the breaths that we integrate into this that can calm the mind," she said. "Movement breaks up the stagnation. When I started understanding how yoga's dynamic of mind, body, and breath comes together, that's when it meant a lot more to me than just moving on my mat."
With the summer of Covid-19 raging on, she feels content on her own.
"I go inward and explore all the things," she said. "If my fears come up, I go into them and try to figure out why they're showing up and remember my breath. That's what it always comes back to. It always comes back to a conscious breath, remembering I'm safe, and I'm going to be okay. Then I go into nature when I feel like I am going to lose it."
Her easiest and most challenging move is savasana.
"Savasana is your final rest when you lay down and get your mind quiet," she said. "Some days, it's relaxing, and some days your mind is flowing, and you're building up all that anxiety again."
She said people who want to try yoga need to find their breath and feel good about their bodies.
"Every aspect of my life has changed," Raspiller said. "I left my corporate life to pursue this and share with people how it feels to feel good in your body."
Leaving the corporate world happened in layers.
"You bring a little bit of the corporate world with you when you're running a business," she said. "It's taken a couple of years to let it be what it needed to be, instead of trying to make it corporate, as well."
People who want to get involved should visit venturapopupyoga.com.
"We have an app now that you have to register for all your classes," she said. "We take paper and cash donations so that we can honor the social distancing. They can pop up at any one of or 12 classes during the week."