Inkwell Yoga welcomed back to the beach

Oak Bluffs parks commission reverses permit requirement following public outcry.

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Before a packed meeting room, the Oak Bluffs parks commission dropped its requirement for a permit for the Inkwell Yoga program. -Abigail Rosen

With the Town Hall packed to the brim as supporters of the Inkwell Yoga group enveloped the conference hall Monday afternoon, the Oak Bluffs Parks Commission agreed to allow yoga to return to the beach.

The single-agenda meeting, triggered by an overwhelming response by the public to the ousting of the yoga group on July 21, resulted in a “good faith” agreement in moving forward without requiring a special permit.

The commission decided to forgo its initial stipulation that the morning exercise group must secure a special permit application in order to use the beach, with the acknowledgment that Inkwell Yoga will not require payment for its instructed classes, and will accommodate Inkwell Beach permit holders’ events. 

Linda Thompson, representing Inkwell Yoga, expressed her gratitude to the commission for moving up the meeting date–originally slated for August 8– and was first in requesting that the group be allowed to continue its daily yoga as a free and welcoming activity that promotes “health, healing and racial unity.”

“Those who practice yoga on the beach,” said Thompson “know first hand, and can testify to its many benefits to our body and soul. [It] boosts our energy and happiness, and relaxes our brain and stimulates our creativity.”

What seemed like a misunderstanding whether the instructional classes were free or paid, underscored the need for the permit, explained parks commission chair Tony Lima. He said notices advertising the classes for a fee were provided to the commission. Those concerns were put to rest as Thompson explained that Inkwell Yoga has not been, nor will it be a business requiring a fee for participation. 

Yoga instructor Christopher Simms, who was not present, has been teaching the classes for the last seven years, said Thompson, and has become “a beloved, community treasure who gives so much freely to so many and requires little [or] nothing in return.”

With little pushback, other than minor concerns over possible town liability, and activity “snowballing” into something too large to control, the commission supported the group’s return to the beach, with a reachable point-person, and commitment to keep the classes free for all in perpetuity. 

Commissioner Richie Combra steered the commission to its decision to ultimately accept the withdrawal of the permit application, stressing the harmless nature of the morning group activity. More than comfortable with having the lines of communication open with what he finds responsible organizers, Combra said he supports the group, acknowledging the benefits to the exercise. “I think it needs to continue,” he said, which was agreed upon by the rest of the commission, triggering massive applause, “[we’re] fully in support of it.” 

Continuing to cause confusion is what sparked the removal; no complaints regarding yoga at Inkwell beach have been placed with the police department, Chief Jon Searle told The Times. Likewise, despite commissioner Amy Billings’ reluctance to compare Inkwell Yoga with the adjacent ‘Polar Bears’ swimming group, whom “[parks dept] never received complaints about,” Billings stated at Monday’s meeting that she was not aware of any complaints being filed about the morning yoga either.

12 COMMENTS

  1. So the person that conducts these classes doesn’t bother to even show up for the meeting, and the Parks commission blesses it anyway. Perhaps there were some pertinent questions that might have been posed to that person, including questions about compensation. I personally wonder why we bother to have by-laws that we just choose to ignore. Let’s just revoke them if they are of no value. Seriously. If they mean nothing, then get them off the books. If not, then apply them equally to all.

  2. All for the betterment of humanity, spirituality, social, and emotional growth of the Inkwell historical community and all who rest their feet on this indigenous ancestral land! The right decision was made!

  3. “First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
    This over reach by the Parks and Recreation Department could have cost Oak Bluffs thousands in legal fees for violating the civil rights of the folks taking part in the yoga class. Who is next on the Town’s list to shut down , the Polar Bears ?

  4. This whole issue hinged on whether or not there was a fee.
    Now we know —
    “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, we are free at last. ”
    –Martin Luther King August 28 1963

    • Albert — no one mentioned socialism in the article or comments..are you being sarcastic again ? I can’t tell..
      But, if your comment about yoga and socialism is the beginning of a joke– I’ll bite– I don’t know … what is it ?

  5. Hallelujah, Amen! The fact that there is no charge for class is a huge factor of why Inkwell Yoga is so welcoming! Many of us are literally only exposed to yoga in this setting. It’s truly the one circumstance in which I’ve had the opportunity to practice yoga with my brothers, sisters, cousins, and neice on the beach. Everyone feels it’s spiritual impact! A blessing I am so thankful to continue receiving! Namaste

  6. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to join Inkwell Yoga for the first time on Monday, August 1, 2022. It was my 2nd visit to MVY in 20 years. I never did Yoga before and was terrified that my health issues would prevent me from participating. I was encouraged by my Yogi Sister in Law Kamla. She introduced me to Chris and he assured me I can complete the class. His words “just listen to your ouch/body”, his words were calming and encouraging. I completed the class and for the rest of the week I attend his class. I thanked him for the experience and my satisfaction and rejuvenation of my old aching body. I am returning home to Florida and will definitely continue Yoga listening to my “OUCH”. Thank you, Thank you Mr. Simms.
    Your new Devotee. – Namaste!

    Jean Ramson – Pembroke Pines, FL

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