Jul. 30—Yoga beginners and enthusiasts alike gathered at the Mentor Civic Center Amphitheater on July 30 for the second annual Mystic Mentor Outdoor Yoga and Wellness Festival.
The festival was a partnership between the city of Mentor and Mystic Yoga Tribe, a yoga studio located at 8635 Tyler Blvd., Mentor.
"The goal is really just to bring the community together, to bring yoga studios across Cleveland together, working together and collaborating, and hopefully create some more practitioners," said Casey Gruden, owner of Mystic Yoga Tribe.
She noted that the festival has grown in its second year, offering four yoga classes instead of two, with teachers coming from across the Cleveland area.
"We're kind of trying to expand across Cleveland so that we can hopefully gain more visitors from different areas, but also give other teachers the opportunity to teach," Gruden said.
In the first session, at 11 a.m., Mystic Yoga Tribe instructor Abby Picciano led attendees through a variety of stretches and meditative exercises.
Both Samantha Thomas and Michelle Biondi attended the festival for the first time.
Thomas, a yoga beginner, said that she came "just to experience a class and relax outside with yoga."
Biondi, who has been taking yoga classes for more than eight years at the Heisley Racquet Club, said that she was "just curious to see what...Mystic Yoga is like."
She said of yoga, "It's good for my mind and my body."
In addition to the yoga instructors and students, vendors came to present traditional and alternative wellness services, artistic displays, crafts, refreshments and more.
Dr. Renee Pennington, the CEO of Beachwood-based Willow Holistic Wellness, said that she came to the festival for the first time because of "the holistic portion of it."
Describing Willow, she said, "what we do is traditional psychiatric care using medications and things like that, but we also practice from a much more holistic standpoint, so we incorporate complementary and alternative care treatments and things like that into our work, too."
Pennington is a psychiatric nurse practitioner for Willow, and she said that she also offers nutritional, spiritual and reiki services.
Meanwhile, Janie Walland, an art instructor, displayed artwork from students aged 8-14. She came to last year's festival as an attendee. Looking for an opportunity to show student artwork in a public setting, she turned to Mystic Mentor because she believed "this would be the best community to uplift these kids. They're so supportive."
Walland said that Gruden supported her decision to bring the art to the festival, describing Gruden as "a very inspiring person."
She added, "It's really awesome to teach them how to work together as a team in a community and be a part of the community instead of just thinking that you're an artist and you're just here...doing your art, and nobody's ever going to see it."
Gruden noted that Mystic Yoga Tribe, which has been in business for five years, offers classes for students at different experience levels, from beginning students to experienced students.
"Yoga has a number of physical and mental health benefits including increased strength and flexibility as well as reduced stress and improved energy and mental clarity," she said. "Yoga reminds us to be present so that we can enjoy a fuller, more meaningful life, free from suffering."