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There’s a miracle around every corner on the trails in the Santa Monica Mountains northwest of Los Angeles. In June, a hiker might have come across a group of colorfully dressed yogis of all ages and sizes stretching and posing under the giant oaks at Peter Strauss Ranch.
As part of an effort to get more people to experience the glorious open space right in LA’s backyard, the Santa Monica Mountains Fund is offering a series of free yoga classes at different locations each month. Instructor Jennifer Elliot leads an hour-long class suitable for any level, and participants are invited to meet the park rangers, learn more about the park itself, and hike on the trails before or after the events.
The series launched on June 10 at the visitor center at Peter Strauss Ranch, which is reached by a short hike from the parking lot across a wash. At 9:45 AM, the Southern California heat hadn’t yet reached this part of the mountains, so the shady grove of trees extended an enchanting invitation to us as we made our way down the trail.
Luckily, the shade of enormous old trees — between the visitor center and an aviary — provided enough room for everyone to spread their mats.
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There was even a baby watching his parents from a stroller. Elliot led a simple Vinyasa level I‑II class, and we enjoyed breathing in the clear morning air with each inhale. Although the park is situated on Mulholland Highway, with its accompanying rumble of passing traffic, it is the birdsong and Elliot’s calm voice that we remember now.