Every fortnight a large number of people gather in Városliget (City Park) with mats to do yoga under the shade of the trees. This is Guerilla Yoga, a relatively new movement urging people to try the discipline for free with experienced instructors. Their purpose is also to draw attention to the park and the changes that will be made to it.
The idea of Guerilla Yoga originates from a student of organiser Márta Haklik, who is a yoga instructor. Her student continually said that the group should go open-air whenever the weather was nice. The Városliget events were at first visited only by Haklik’s students but now there are sometimes over 100 people attending. Participation is free because she believes that yoga belongs to everybody, and this is an opportunity for those who wish to try but do not have the chance to pay for regular classes on a weekly basis.
Guerilla Yoga events usually take place in studios during winter and outdoors during summer, mostly in Városliget. Nowadays the location gives the gatherings an air of protest because of the government’s plan to rebuild the park according to the Liget Budapest Project. The plan is to establish a Museums Quarter, which has attracted opposition from several groups in Budapest, who want to keep the park as it is.
However, none of this mood of opposition can be felt during the yoga. Haklik said she finds it important to express that there is no political background to Guerilla Yoga in Városliget at all. “It is more like a quiet and peaceful demonstration, a way to attract attention to what is going on around here,” she said. “But this is not the point. We gather here to enjoy yoga outdoors in the first place.”
The events are advertised on the Facebook page of Gerilla Jóga. The site is in Hungarian but everybody is welcome to participate, regardless of age, gender or level of practice. The classes are also held in Hungarian but, as Haklik explained, yoga is universal. The names of the asanas (poses) are in Sanskrit but if there is a greater need for English groups at an event, they can also provide this.
As the events are outdoors, people can bring their dogs providing they are capable of resting for the duration and do not disturb others in practising. Guerilla events are especially good for those who have recently discovered the world of yoga. Participants can try several types of the discipline because Haklik always invites four or five instructors of different styles. This way, beginners can experiment and see which method they prefer.