SAN DIEGO -- Let's close our eyes and just take a moment to become present. Listen to the sounds around you. Experience the temperature of the air on your skin. Feel your body resting. Take a moment to allow gratitude to fill our hearts. Gratitude for our bodies that are healthy enough to be here. Gratitude for Soul Pose and MLB for creating this incredible space for us to share this morning.
Welcome to All-Star Week, San Diego-style.
The softly spoken words from sought-after yoga instructor Heather Archer wafted across the rings of blue Waterfront Park mats on Saturday morning, in the first of two sessions of the newest official event during Major League Baseball's All-Star Week. Soul Pose MLB All-Star Yoga was a "spark of light' that drew 1,500 people from all walks, at a time when so many could use some peace and calm.
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Gratitude? People were grateful that the family of the late Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn -- "Mr. Padre" to so many -- were in attendance for the event. Tony Gwynn Jr. participated in the 8 a.m. session, and Chris Gwynn, brother of the 15-time All-Star, was on hand as well.
"It felt awesome after the fact," Tony Jr. said. "During it, I was asking myself, 'Why am I doing this?' the last 25 minutes. But I feel great. This kind of matches the personality of San Diego. A lot of people are into fitness here in Southern California. It showed in the turnout here. So many people really enjoy doing yoga, and obviously it's healthy for you."
"It's great, because San Diego gets the national stage," Chris Gwynn said. "We already know it's American's Finest City, but everybody gets reminded how nice it is here. It's a very good sports town, they're very loyal. It's one of the reasons why my brother never left here, because he loved it here, his family was comfortable, the fans were great, and it's a great place to live and raise your family."
Tony Gwynn Jr. played eight years in the National League from 2008-14, including 2009-10 with the Padres. In his final season, he wore his father's iconic No. 19 with the Phillies.
Chris played 10 years from 1987-96, mostly with the Dodgers, but finally joining his brother as Padre teammates in his final season. In the final weekend series of that regular season, the Padres were behind the Dodgers by 2 1/2 games, but San Diego swept its series vs. Los Angeles and clinched the NL West, as Tony drove in the winning run on a Saturday and Chris came off the bench on Sunday to break a scoreless tie with a two-run double in the 11th.
If this event was any indication, look for many tributes to Tony Gwynn in the days to come.
"From my standpoint, in '92, when they had the last All-Star Game here, I remember how he was received during starting lineups, and just that whole week was special," Chris said. "Now, we have another one here in a new stadium, Petco Park, and we all wish he could be here. Because he's not, it's really an opportunity for our family to really keep his legacy going, and to keep him at the forefront of this week."
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The one-hour yoga sessions were Vinyasa Flow, which Archer said was "all about creating dynamic movement and infusing our movement with our breathing. Breathing itself is also yoga, mindful breathing. When we pay attention to the inhale, the exhale, we create the mind-body connection, which is what yoga is."
Tom Seidler, the Padres' senior vice president of community and military affairs, said at the start of the first session: "On behalf of the Padres, we're just thrilled to have this event. It's really cool that Major League Baseball added this to the list of events we do for All-Star Week. It's a very San Diego event, and hopefully a new tradition for Major League Baseball's All-Star Week."
As the sun beat down on the hundreds of women, men, boys and girls, all finding a centered state, two gongs were gently banged on stage, and Archer wound down the session:
What fills your hearts? Notice, the moment you start to think about all of that goodness in your life, there is an energy, a vibration, within you, and I want that to stay with you. . . . Let that divine spark of light live in every single one of you. So with a bow of our hands, and love in our hearts . . . Namaste.
The 87th All-Star Game presented by MasterCard will be televised nationally starting Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. ET by FOX, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 160 countries via MLB International's independent feed. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB.com, MLB Network and SiriusXM will also provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information, please visit allstargame.com.