Yoga in the Park : flowing with Parks and Rec.

Considering offering a yoga class this summer?  Consider the great outdoors!  In Michigan, the weather is permitting only for a few months of the year, and an outdoor Yoga class is one of the most invigorating experiences a person can have.  Not only is there a physical challenge and stimulation in terms of exercise, but the aesthetics of deep-breathing in a dynamic, sunlit atmosphere are unique facets to consider.

There are a few steps of preparation necessary before leading an outdoor yoga session.  One of those steps is establishing your location.  Some individuals may have access to private property that is ideal.  However, depending on your client base, it may be more preferable to hold class in a public place, such as a park.  

Our staff at The Big Green Gym, an online marketplace promoting outdoor yoga, available at, investigated and spoke with a number of city park authorities in Southeast Michigan regarding their rules around outdoor yoga classes. We found that there are a myriad of different attitudes and policies in regard to allowing a yoga session to take place.  Some cities have no rules whatsoever.  Others will require you to work through their Parks and Recreation Program, offering your class as their consultant.  Some cities will ask that you obtain liability insurance as an instructor and others will require you to get a permit only for a group of over 20 people.  There are Park Programs that will not require a permit unless your class is consistently recurring.  While others, will ask that you secure a permit even if the class is free.  For a complete list of our research results, see the table below.

In any case, it is wise to communicate with the Parks director in order to avoid holding your class in a park that is hosting a special community event, or to avoid planning your class time when the lawn is being treated or cut. It is also important to consider whether the park has sports fields, which could mean you would not have quite as serene an atmosphere as you would hope.  There is also the question of the amount of available parking where large gatherings are present.

There are things to avoid or contend with when planning a yoga class in the park, but in reality, they are easily managed.  Once forethought and communication are combined and executed, you are free to take advantage of the beautiful and abundant green spaces in public parks which, in many cities, are underutilized. Hosting your yoga session at a public park is a wonderful privilege.  One that unites yogis with nature and their community.  To that end, the key to harmonious, outdoor, public yoga is communication with your Parks and Recreation department and then ‘seize the day’ to enjoy all that awaits in nature.

click here for link to Park Policies spreadsheet

Park Hours Main Contact Park suggestion Permit needed? Reference
Park hours 5am to 7pm Brian Riverside, Riverwoods Park Permits not necessary. Be mindful of the parks that have pavilions and may be rented for large gatherings. Parking could become an issue.
Park locations- Parks and Rec. Dir. Shane Park – prior permission needed Groups under 25 do not need a permit
Park hours- Gina Clawson City park- busiest- best to avoid because of sports events occurring there No need for a permit
Park hours- (Rochester Municipal) 7:00 am to 8:00 pm Steve Shetenhelm Rochester Municipal If a small group meeting once or twice; no permit needed, but for a consistently meeting class, permit needed for rules, see first link
Park hours- 8:00 am to dusk Ken Elwert Park locations- Permit necessary if class meets regularly Mindy Bear Creek Nature Park Permit needed
Park Hours- 8:00 am to dusk Jennifer Park locations-;Trails.aspx Permits necessary for 20+ people, even if gathering is free. Permits necessary for reserving space and if you are charging a fee for the class; you must coordinate with a Program director to offer your class through the township.
Park hours- see next link l Pontiac Lake Recreation Area Park rules- Amplified sound at the park must be moderate and controlled Park locations-
closed between 11:00 pm and 6:am Tod Gazetti Quickstad Park No permit needed for groups under 20 people…”Outdoors Special Events
Use permits are required for all outdoor events including but not limited to running events, fundraisers, festivals, tournaments, weddings and any other event that may take place on public park and/or city facilities.” Kyle Langlois Dodge Park is a good park to use. To conduct a regular class at a Sterling Hts. park, the instructor should have liability insurance and a permit/permission. The director would also want to discuss the possibility of cooperating with Parks and Rec. to offer your classes through them.
Park hours-Firefighters Park 6:00am to 9:00 pm- others vary Firefighters Park Permit not necessary. Sandy Orchard Hills Park Romeo Village Market-( Farmer’s market) It is advisable to let the Parks and Rec. know ahead of time where and when you will hold class so that you an avoid mowers and grass treatments, and special park events so they can be aware of your presence and activity. If it is a consistently recurring class, there may be a permit requirement.
Park hours- 8:00 am to sunset unless otherwise posted Kelly Higher Groups of 20+ require a permit and/or would need to be set up through the parks offerings–facilities.html
Open 24 hrs. MI DNR Little Point Sable Lighthouse You and your class participants will need a park pass.
7 am to dusk City Officials Timbertown Park Timbertown is the City’s largest park at 19.02 acres. The park offers a pavilion with picnic seating, volleyball courts and hiking trails, and is home to the Community Garden.
8:00 am to 8:00pm Jennifer Wright Quirk Park The park features a Senior Garden. Permission would need to be granted for private use of this space.
Open 24 hrs. MI DNR The Beach P.J. Hoffmaster State Park features over three miles of Lake Michigan shoreline, a 297-site modern campground, towering Lake Michigan dunes and the Gillette Visitor Center. Miles of hiking and skiing trails offer stunning views of Lake Michigan and subtle beauty at every turn.
7 am to dusk Andy Kenyon Kollen Park
Open 24 hrs. MI DNR The Beach on Lake Huron Harrisville State Park features a campground and day-use area nestled in a stand of pine and cedar trees along the sandy shores of Lake Huron. The park is within walking distance of the resort town of Harrisville, which hosts many events. The park is also close to Sturgeon Point Lighthouse.