I recently did a story on Sweetland farm and while I was there taking it all in, I noticed two people practicing Yoga in front of the tomato greenhouses. I naturally was a bit intrigued and curious. I asked Molly Smith if she would be interested in providing some info for a story on her Yoga classes. Here is her story:
My interest in yoga began when I was 14 years old, and a family friend, who had recently picked up the practice, showed me a few poses on the hard, kitchen floor of our farmhouse back in Pennsylvania where I grew up. I soon taught myself a few basic poses using books, but didn't begin to actively study yoga until I was 23, graduated from college and looking for what was next ion my life.
I enrolled at the Abhyasa Yoga Institute in the fall of 2013 and graduated with my 200 hour RYT certificate in March 2014 ( I have since also completed a 60 hour Aerial Yoga Teacher Training). While my yoga education is predominantly in Hatha yoga theory and practice, my classes are a blend of Hatha, Vinyasa and Iyengar flows and philosophies, as each class is focused around an aspect of the 8-limbs of yoga.
My classes are not simply a physical workout; they are a mental and spiritual one as well. When I first graduated from yoga school, I taught in the conventional studio, but soon realized that my yoga philosophy did not fit into the typical studio setting. Studio maintenance and rent costs kept class prices high and they often weren't affordable for many students, especially those who struggled with stress and anxiety and needed a yoga practice the most! I knew I had to do something. I quit teaching at the studio and began to explore ways I could teach yoga in a non-conventional setting, set my own price structure and allow all, no matter their financial situation, to come practice.
When I first moved to the Upper Valley in 2012, I had heard of Norah Lake and Sweetland Farn. I had some friends who lived out that way and when I returned to the area after yoga school, I learned that Norah was looking for ways to expand the variety of services Sweetland offered. I wrote to her and suggested I teach a weekly yoga class out in the field, in exchange for half of a CSA share. She readily agreed and in May of 2016, Veggies and Vinyasa was born.
We practice out in the field in front of the greenhouses on the flattest piece of ground we can find. My students and I have faced blistering heat, the first frosts, running into the barn to escape a sudden rainstorm and they have been the best classes of my life. There is something about Sweetland which just inspires a yoga practice in the way no studio over could. Maybe it's the birds wheeling overhead, the soft sound of the greenhouse fans, or the pained smiles of my students when I tell yet another bad yogi joke or remind them for the umpteenth time to "take a deep breath and relax your face!". But teaching at Sweetland constantly reminds me why I teach yoga. For starters, in my class, no one cares if you are wearing the latest product out of Lululemon or a pair of sweatpants, It doesn't matter if you can't touch your toes or can bend yourself into a pretzel.
The first tenet of my class is the idea that ego is left behind, and acceptance, joy and compassion are welcome on the mat. In support of that, I work to create a class that affords every student, no matter their ability, size, age or health, the opportunity to find joy within their body. Each class is carefully built to ensure multiple modifications for each asana, and students are invited to challenge themselves by choice, and find which variation of the asana best fits their intention for the day. Recognizing my students come from a variety of financial backgrounds as well.
I set a pricing structure in which students with a CSA share at Sweetland pay $5/class, while those who do not pay $10. This encourages students to support the farm and Norah with a CSA share, and helps me pay for my gas to and from class as well as the occasional dinner at Skinny Pancake afterwards (I am a big fan of post-yoga burger and beer). It is my goal that no one will be turned away from my yoga class due to their inability to pay. Yoga is often needed by those who can least afford it, and I am grateful to Sweetland Farm and Norah Lake for the opportunity to provide a safe haven for all those who are drawn to the mat to practice together in acceptance and freedom.
Veggies and Vinyasa will run through the end of the CSA in mid October. Class is on Tuesday and Fridays from 5:30pm-6:30pm and is BYOM (Bring Your Own Mat).
Photo credit goes to David Smith Photography. More of his amazing work can be found on
Molly practicing Yoga at Sweetland farm
Yoga can be a field exercise