Yesterday PNC Park opened its doors unusually early to a long line of fans sipping coffees and toting yoga mats. By 8 am, nearly 1,400 people were led down the warning track and onto the outfield. Yes, onto the PNC outfield, right where the Pirates field ground balls and catch fly balls.
It was the third time Lululemon has partnered with a major league baseball team to put together Oms in the Outfield, a yoga class held in a major league baseball park. The first time was in Fenway Park followed by Wrigley Field. Yesterday it was at PNC Park in partnership with the Pirates.
And Pittsburgh, a city that treats their sports teams like family, did Oms in the Outfield right.
Not only was yesterday the last home game of the regular season, and all those attending the class received a ticket to the game, but the morning yoga practice took place on the actual outfield.
While the Pirates staff carried on with routine game-day set up under sunny skies, co-teachers Sally Sherman and Stacey Vespaziani set up shop under the Jumbotron and a hundred of the city’s yoga teachers (all of whom were distinguishable by the gold skyline of Pittsburgh monogrammed on their black yoga pants) guided the long line of yogis around the warning track to find a spot for their mat in center field.
You could feel the excitement. And as soon as mats went down, shoes came off and phones came out for photos and posting.
When else do you get to flip upside down in the middle of a MLB ballpark or bust your favorite yoga pose on the outfield grass, (which was decidedly pillowy)?
Once the crowd settled, and everyone found their place, Sally and Stacey began class on time at 8:30.
Like most first-time events as big as this, Oms in the Outfield was not without its snafus. Minutes into the yoga class, it was evident that it was hard to hear the teachers. Unfazed, the Lululemon staff came up with a quick fix. Yoga teachers Amanda Rubio and Monica Calero hopped up onto the platform and began to demo the poses, which soon popped up for all to see on the big screen. Perfect.
Michelle Versaw, a regular yoga student as well as a Pirates fan, brought along a friend new to yoga. “This experience changed my view of yoga entirely,” said her friend, Brittany Sipe. “Just a wonderful experience as a Pittsburgh girl to be on PNC field with so many other people. Energy was felt, especially when we did Airplane pose all together.”
Shortly after everyone linked arms for a community-wide balance—the airplane pose—the rain hit. It was brief and met with various reactions. Some folks hid for cover under their yoga mats, sheltering their kids and phones and bags, while most yoga-ed on looking up to face the raindrops. Yoga is, after all, a very personal practice.
Although Sally and Stacey cut the class a bit short, and the Pirates staff hustled to tarp the infield, it didn’t stop hundreds from lying down on soggy mats on wet grass, to close their eyes to totally let go in Corpse pose.
How often do you let yourself really feel the rain?
The majority stayed a few minutes longer to soak it all in while Mumford and Sons’s “Awake My Soul” boomed over the PA system.
“That was cool as can be,” said one wet and jubilant woman.
“Practicing in the ballpark was a rare and wonderful experience for all of us in Pittsburgh’s yoga community” said yoga teacher Terra Ferberder. “It was pretty great to see our city as passionate about yoga as it is about sports.”
Not only was yesterday a great day for Pittsburgh yoga, but it was a great day for Pittsburgh baseball. Nearly five hours later the sun was shining again, and the same crowd, some still wearing their black and gold yoga pants, was back at PNC cheering on the Buccos at the (sold-out) last home game of the season.
Quite a few fans, like Michelle, admitted to dedicating her Oms in the Outfield practice to a much-needed Pirates win. “It got real at PNC this morning,” she said. “Wild energy!”
After an experience like this, it’s easy to see that yoga can be powerful stuff. If you look closely at the replay of Cutch’s game-winning catch in center field, you can see the imprints of the yoga mats.