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The backdrop is the beautiful Duluth Harbor with the infamous Duluth lift bridge in the distance. American and POW flags flying in respect as an ore ship passed by, announcing it’s presence with a fog horn that rattles the teeth of the tourists. Duluth is at it’s best, sunshine, light breeze, sweatshirt and shorts kind of weather. This is the scene, set for the first Taste of Duluth event at Bayfront Park, Saturday July 1st. I was delighted to be invited to participate in this first ever event by a friend of Sandy Cedargren, a Duluth Yogadevotion instructor. With the scent of cheese curds teasing us, we set up our tent in a space next to a lovely couple selling organic bev-erages, a henna artist, the Boy Scouts of America, with free caramel corn and US Army recruit-ers. As we were getting ready for what turned out to be a crowd of approximately 5000 folks, we took time to get to know each other and how we were connected in Duluth. It gave me pause to reflect on my history in Duluth and why I love it here.

My husband Greg Senarighi grew up here and played hockey for the first hockey team to play for St. Scholastica. I met him here when I was a student nurse at St. Luke’s Hospital and our daughter lives here working at the Boys and Girl’s Club. Our roots are deep here, we have many family and friends here, Duluth is our second home and it is exciting to see how it is developing from what it was back in the day to what it is today. The Taste of Duluth was a perfect opportu-nity to showcase the best of Duluth, it’s history and it’s future.

Yoga has a rich history and promising future in Duluth. Yoga North is a premier studio and school that has been around since 1995. Yogadevotion began in 1999, coming to Duluth in 2015. Since 2015 the number of yoga opportunities in Duluth has grown exponentially. Today there is everything from hot yoga and yoga sculpt for the more fitness minded yogi to therapeutic yoga for yogi’s working with preexisting conditions. Yogadevotion is unique. Yogadevotion began after a training where Robin Norsted (Halbert, of Duluth) and I experienced a spiritual connec-tion during an hour long savasana. As a Lutheran pastor I call that spiritual connection or that something greater than myself, God. As a pastor and a nurse, I registered that experience as heal-ing. While I could talk all day about what that means I will summarize by saying when people get on their mat, use their bodies to settle their minds, they feel better and more…connected. That is what I heard from the many yogi’s and yoga wannabe’s that stopped by our tent at the Taste of Duluth.

There are many yoga stories and conversations that happened at The Taste, here is a sampling in no particular order of importance that reflects common thoughts about yoga.
1) “I tried yoga because my Dr. told me it would be good for me but I couldn’t do the poses, I’m not flexible, I’m overweight, I have bad knees/hips/balance.” If I had a nickel for every time I have heard that! I simply responded, that the physical poses are intended to get to the breath, can and should be modified for every BODY. I decided the idea of asana as only one limb, was premature to the conversation.
2) “I love yoga, I grew up ________ but don’t go to church anymore, I’m spiritual not religious. I feel something spiritual in yoga, I feel better all the way around. I wish it was free, we are poor college students.” UMD students.
3) “I know yoga is helping a lot of service people, from those planking for core strength to those suffering from PTSD or addiction. By the way, can you teach me how to properly plank, I don’t think I have ever been taught from a yoga perspective.” US Army recruiter.
4) “How do you see yoga as part of your call as a pastor?” This from a pastor of a church plant in the Twin Cities. This one was easy, I responded that my call was a call to healing and that yoga is one way to get us centered around healing. Yoga is an ancient philosophy that con-nects us body, mind and spirit for overall health and healing. It is a philosophy that is avail-able to all regardless of physical or financial constraints. It is a philosophy that is compatible with people of faith, of no faith or of searching faith. I personally love the Jesus story, 1/3 of what he did in his time on earth was to connect with and heal folks. Yoga and faith journey’s share a desire for healing, that is the mission of Yogadevotion, to experience the healing Presence through th practice of yoga.

The yoga community in Duluth is rich with history and a bright future. From the regeneration that is happening in West Duluth as witnessed by the organic attention to what we eat at the Du-luth Grill, Yoga at the Bent Paddle Brewery (Runayoga), the new Art Block and the just opened in June, OMC restaurant. This combined with the bustling, ongoing development of the Duluth Harbor, Bayfront Park and ever expanding Canal Park provides the yoga community with fertile ground to explore and in which to grow in.

Peace to you
Pastor Cindy Senarighi

Cindy Senarighi is an ELCA pastor, RN and owner of Yogadevotion, a company that partners with healing communities to invite faith inclusive language into a yoga and faith practice. Yogadevotion is in 30 plus churches in the Twin Cities and 4 churches in Duluth. Cindy and co-author Heidi Green just released their first book, Yogadevotion, Practicing in the Presence, a book of weekly devotions that blend yoga and faith practices, that connect us in the world and to each other.
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