McAllen Nature Center, Yoga a perfect pairing

  1. The Adventures of Team Peter Parker — Yoga under the oaks

I opened my eyes while I lay under an oak tree to see the sunlight poking through the leaves. Other than birds chirping in the background, the world was still.

The final relaxation pose of yoga was a welcome calm from everyday life. The nature setting allowed me to forget where I was, even only for a few minutes.

For my second outdoor activity of the RGV Family Summer Adventure Challenge, I performed yoga on Tuesday under the oaks at the McAllen Nature Center. The summer-long program encourages families to explore the various nature sites in the Rio Grande Valley through challenges. Families have until Aug. 26 to complete 12 challenges. The program is free to join and open to families with children under the age of 18.

Challenge No. 2 asks for teams to visit a nature center/park that hosts a morning or afternoon family program or activity. I chose Yoga Under the Oaks, a staple activity at the McAllen Nature Center.

Yoga is not easy. As soon as the class started, I realized I am not flexible. I had trouble just crossing my legs in the easy (lotus) pose. This yoga class isn’t particularly difficult; it is open to anyone from first-timers to yoga enthusiasts.

My struggles weren’t much of a surprise. I can’t even touch my toes when I stretch.

None of the poses — cobra, downward-facing dog, happy baby, high lunge, plank, warrior — were easy for me. But through the sweat and my body shaking during some of the poses, I realized yoga is beneficial.

It felt good to just stretch out my muscles. I don’t think I have ever stretched that much in my life. One of the benefits of yoga is flexibility. It got me thinking that I should incorporate yoga into my life.

Best of all, yoga was relaxing and restorative, assisted by the fact that the class was outdoors at the McAllen Nature Center. Only a few yards from the intersection of Business 83 and Ware Road, the site allows you to forget that you are in the middle of a busy city.

The green space is a perfect place to relax or break a sweat while performing yoga. It was so peaceful lying under the oak trees. You need to experience it.

I read that one of the benefits of spending time in nature is better sleep. Improved sleep so happens to be a benefit of yoga. I don’t know if Tuesday’s challenge had anything to do with it, but that night I fell asleep at 10:30 p.m. and didn’t wake up until 8:15 a.m. on Wednesday. I had to rush to work that morning.

For more information on the McAllen Nature Center, visit its Facebook page. There you will find its events such as yoga, tai chi and the center’s popular Friday Night Hike.

To join the challenges, call (956) 381-9922 or visit the RGV Family Summer Adventure Challenge Facebook page.

  1. Taking part in the Valley tradition of bird watching

Follow Peter Rasmussen (Team Peter Parker) this summer as he explores the various nature sites in the Valley through the RGV Family Summer Adventure Challenge.