ROGA Celebrates Pride and Inclusivity
The Western edge of Route 66. A popular site for Instagram stories. A place to ride a Ferris wheel or a roller coaster over the Pacific Ocean. The edge of the California Coastline. A great place to walk your dog. A fisherman’s dock. One of the most iconic destinations not only in LA but maybe in the world, with 9-12 million people visiting annually. And one of the most epic locations for a pop-up yoga studio. The very end of the Santa Monica Pier is a place where people can gather with friends on a Saturday morning during the ROGA (Run + Yoga = ROGA) season.
ROGA on the Santa Monica Pier
The 2019 season (the ninth year of ROGA) will continue through August 3, each Saturday morning offering participants time to play with their own edges on the mat. Around the 8am run start time or the 9am yoga class, the Santa Monica Pier is still waking up. It is before the bustle is in full swing, a perfect environment in which to practice. As Generic Events Producer Michelle Lindner says, “The ability to practice yoga right over the Pacific Ocean is incredible. There’s nothing like it.”
Yoga on the end of the Santa Monica Pier fulfills one of the criteria for unique event selection identified by Negin Singh, Executive Director of the Santa Monica Pier Corporation. Negin says the team asks themselves, “Can it happen anywhere else?” About ROGA Negin says, “This is not your average yoga experience. Doing yoga on the Pier is a great amalgamation of city life and nature. The Pier is part of LA’s heartbeat.” It’s a heartbeat that is inclusive.
Since the Santa Monica Pier is dog-friendly, attendees can bring their pups to class. (Stay tuned for an upcoming dog-themed experience in July.) People attend from throughout the region, kids are welcome, the Metro station is within walking distance, and the free all-levels classes mean that you don’t have to know your downward facing from your upward facing dog in order to participate.
Part of what keeps the ROGA series free are the relationships with partners and sponsors, which currently includes the Capital One Cafe and Boxed Water. The goal, according to Michelle, is that “everyone feels welcome.” As Negin says, “We are proud of the fact that we attract such a large and broad audience.”
Pride on the Pier
Pride will have an additional meaning this summer. Santa Monica hasn’t been a city with an official Pride celebration, but that changes in 2019 with a city-wide initiative that will have a visible presence on the Pier. Some of the noticeable signs will be an installation that includes lighting up the Pier bridge in Pride colors each night in June.
Instructors throughout the ROGA series are carefully curated with an eye for teachers who can hold the space over the ocean and can deliver a class that is soft yet powerful, according to Michelle. For Pride month, the teachers will all be sharing the themes of inclusivity and acceptance.
One of the instructors scheduled for this series is Maygen Nicholson of Native Soul Yogi, who regularly teaches classes for the LGBTQ+ community at locations such as Wanderlust Hollywood and La Maida Institute in North Hollywood. Maygen says, “As a gay woman who teaches yoga, it is important to me that the spaces I hold feel inviting and inclusive to all…since yoga is indeed for everyone.”
Felicia Tomasko has spent more of her life practicing Yoga and Ayurveda than not. She first became introduced to the teachings through the writings of the Transcendentalists, through meditation, and using asana to cross-train for her practice of cross-country running. Between beginning her commitment to Yoga and Ayurveda and today, she earned degrees in environmental biology and anthropology and nursing, and certifications in the practice and teaching of yoga, yoga therapy, and Ayurveda while working in fields including cognitive neuroscience and plant biochemistry. Her commitment to writing is at least as long as her commitment to yoga. Working on everything related to the written word from newspapers to magazines to websites to books, Felicia has been writing and editing professionally since college. In order to feel like a teenager again, Felicia has pulled out her running shoes for regular interval sessions throughout Southern California. Since the very first issue of LA YOGA, Felicia has been part of the team and the growth and development of the Bliss Network.