East Meets West: Going Wild (Literally) with Mat Collective and Park Bus

“I really need to get into nature more,” I said.

“Well,” my dear friend Claire retorted, “funny you should say that I was just going to invite you to an outdoor yoga class I’m teaching and hiking excursion”.

Whoa Steens, way to manifest!

A group of about two dozen, spanning in age from 20s to late 40s /maybe 50s, and hailing from locales such as Japan, Egypt, Germany, England, and exotic Toronto, came together all with the same goal; to revel in nature. We piled into a yellow school bus and embarked on just over hour drive to Golden Ears Provincial Park courtesy of the dynamic duo of Mat Collective and Park Bus.

Mat Collective is a non- profit organization that has got a big heart. With roots planted in caring for Mother Earth, recycling and saving yoga mats from the landfill- yes! Their next progression- inclusion. Yoga is so deeply beneficial but not always accessible, so what did Mat Collective do? OFFER FREE YOGA CLASSES OUTSIDE!! Hands up if you’ve just clued in that you participated in a Mat Collective class your first summer in Vancouver and are now just putting two and two together but love that the universe is smirking at how silly you are. Just me? Moving on.

Park Bus is another not for profit organization that connects city slickers to nature. In the confines of the Concrete Jungle, nature can seem inaccessible and daunting, Park Bus eradicates these barriers. Submerged in a group setting lead by a guide that’s been to the metaphorical rodeo before, you can go out of your comfort zone while still residing in your safety zone- yeehaw!

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I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, practicing outside, touching the ground with your body, the wind blowing the hair in your face, the rock under your butt cheek, the sun sizzling the back of your neck, all provide a visceral experience that you just can’t have in the studio. Mother Nature in all over her abundant immediacy is asking you to accept or adapt to what she’s offering you. You don’t get a say “umm, pardon me, can the wind please not blow so hard?” No way,  Jose. And that’s part of the joy- in being able to acknowledged and witness the present, She grants us wisdom and appreciation for the main rhythms of life (Though I could’ve done without the rhythms being blast by our beach neighbors via playing Tu-Pac during Shavasana, not that I don’t appreciate being welcomed to the wild wild west, however).

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Canada; you are Gorgeous! With Claire leading us through the class, we allowed the beauty to seep into us- thank you, Claire. Thank you for integrating nature and inviting us to be exactly where we were.

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Limbered and fed, and with wet hair after splashing in Alouette Lake,  we took to the woods. Full disclosure, this wasn’t a hike where you needed to huff and puff and haul yourself up ever-increasing inclines, and that was fine by me. I was dwarfed by trees well over 100 feet and ignored the helpful advice of TLC and chased some waterfalls. It was calm and lush and real and authentic. It was exactly what I needed. Butterflies and dragonflies were abundant (and signify transformation, FYI)

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Myself and Claire, and about half of the group decided to forgo the second half of the hike, it was a toasty day and this water baby wanted some more splash time. And if you’ve ever swam in freshwater, you know there’s no comparison to the softness and freshness, the crisp quality of the water, and not just from the cold temperature. Though Lord love a duck- that freshwater was cold! Verging on agonizingly so. I kept trying to convince myself that I’d acclimate to the temperature. No dice. Inch by inch I eased myself in, overthinking how cold it was, allowing myself to swing on the noose of possibilities or I could just, just; splash! How’s the for an analogy? Or as the great lil green guru would say “Do or do not; there is no try”. There really is something to be said about going into nature to find clarity eh?

We warmed and dried ourselves on the rocks and in the moss, appreciating something so wondrous so readily accessible.

It was a fairly quiet ride back- the fatigue of childhood seemed to have overtaken us. Sun drunk, fresh mountain air still in our lungs, gritty sand from lakes still wedged between our toes. I was happy. We were happy.

I’m grateful that I’m listening more, in university, I was billed as “The Loudest One In the Room”, and let me tell you, those days are long gone. I don’t need to postulate for the attention I like observing and learning and appreciating. Because truly, there’s so much to appreciate.

 *Much thanks to Mat Collective and Park Bus for allowing me to be part of their excursion- I’m so grateful! Curious about having your own experience with nature? Curious about getting involved with either organization or just want some more information? Check, check check’em out!