Irvine Ranch Conservancy offers free yoga classes in Bommer Canyon.

A short hike leads to serene outdoor yoga in Bommer Canyon

by ELLEN BELL

Ellen Bell, president of the Irvine Historical Society.

Recently, I put myself in timeout. I turned off my cell phone, powered down my laptop and joined other locals for a free yoga class at Bommer Canyon, part of the Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks.

Bommer Canyon is an easily accessed oasis of natural beauty and tranquility that transcends the vibrant pace of its surrounding communities, offering a variety of wilderness trails and outdoor activities.

It’s a beautiful summer evening when I arrive at the trailhead. A volunteer from the Irvine Ranch Conservancy directs me up the short drive to the old Cattle Camp, where cowboys used to bring the herd for spring roundup. Old barns and sheds remain as a reminder of Irvine’s ranch roots.

We begin our class with an easy hike down the East Fork Trail. There are few sounds, except the soft conversations of hikers and the crunch of dried leaves under our feet. Every once in a while we stop to notice little things, like a red-tailed hawk soaring above.

It’s hard to believe we are in the middle of Orange County, surrounded by millions of people. Here on the trail, there are only a few.

After about 30 minutes, we settle under a grove of old sycamores and lay our mats on the earth. It is quiet. Serene. My breathing begins to match the breeze that rustles the golden leaves overhead. For a blissful hour, I am free from day-today bustle and I breathe in peace.

I return to my car at sunset, refreshed and renewed with a sense of gratitude for the places of natural beauty I can enjoy, right here in the heart of my city.

To sign up for activities at the Irvine Ranch Open Space Preserve, visit letsgooutside.org.