Whenever Katy Rowe leads a sold-out session of Yoga on the Rocks at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, she has to work extra hard to focus on the contortions and commands she is making because of the distractions present in that spectacular setting.
There are those massive red sandstone formations that have enchanted concert-goers and tourists for generations, of course, but also as many as 2,500 people following her lead.
“I am really aware mostly of the students, because you say ‘right leg up,’ and you see 2,500 right legs go up,” said Rowe, a teacher for The River yoga in downtown Denver who will lead this year’s first session of Yoga on the Rocks on June 8. “That in itself is visually stunning and really powerful. When I’ve taught I’ve actually taught to the sky and to the rocks so that kind of pulls me back in, if I do float away a little bit.”
If you go
Yoga on the Rocks will be held at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on eight Saturdays, June 8-June 29 and July 20-Aug. 10, from 7 to 8 a.m. Barre on the Rocks will be held July 13. Participants should bring water and a yoga mat. Season passes and four-packs are sold out. SnowShape classes will be held four consecutive Saturdays, Sept. 21-Oct. 12.
Single-session tickets are available at redrocksonline.com for $16 (plus $4 service fees).
There are other distractions, though. Sometimes there is the faint odor of spilled beer from the night before and other leftover aromas. One time, another teacher leading a class said, “It smells like hot dogs in here,” and the comment was picked up by the microphone she was wearing.
“She accidentally said it out loud in front of 2,500 people,” Rowe said. “It’s just part of the deal, right? Red Rocks wouldn’t be the same if it didn’t smell like beer and hot dogs.”
Created in 2013, Yoga on the Rocks takes over the world-famous music venue eight Saturdays in June, July and August. For the second time this summer, there also will be one session of Barre on the Rocks (July 13). In the fall, Red Rocks will inaugurate a new class, SnowShape, for skiers and snowboarders getting fit for the winter.
The capacity for Yoga on the Rocks is 2,500. Season passes and four-packs are already sold out, but some single-session tickets are available, as are tickets for Barre on the Rocks. Season passes and single-session tickets for SnowShape are on sale as well.
The first four sessions of Yoga on the Rocks will be led by instructors from The River, which has studios in the Golden Triangle and Five Points. The second four — on consecutive Saturdays beginning July 20 — will be led by instructors from Kindness Yoga, which operates at several locations in the metro area. Barre on the Rocks will be led by Kaye Straub of The Barre Code, which is located in downtown Denver.
“Each year we have sort of a theme to guide us, to guide what we call our dharma,” Rowe said. “This year it’s all about celebration. Our theme is ‘What Rocks You.’ I want them to feel in celebration of being in Colorado and of their body and hopefully a community that’s pretty big.”
Yoga on the Rocks isn’t just for advanced yoga practitioners. Rowe said models on stage will be demonstrating “modifications,” or variations to poses that may be too hard for some.
“One of our River taglines is, ‘Yoga for everybody,’ ” Rowe said. “That’s really important to us, the accessibility and inclusivity of it all.”
Yoga on the Rocks allows each participating studio to designate $1 from every ticket to go to the charity of its choice. The River has chosen “Love Your Brain,” a foundation that helps make yoga accessible for people with traumatic brain injuries. Kindness Yoga chose an initiative supporting the Marine Arctic Peace Sanctuary.
Rowe’s class on June 8 will mark her third time leading a session of Yoga on the Rocks.
“At first it’s terrifying, then it’s surreal,” Rowe said. “It’s just such an honor, not only because it’s so many people trusting us to guide them through something as ancient and sacred as yoga. They let us go to this underground tunnel where all the musicians write their names, Santana and David Bowie and anyone you can think of … . There’s something about standing on the stage where all of those people have stood that is the stuff of dreams.”