The Downtown Yoga Festival is coming up in just a few weeks, and whether you’re an experienced yogi or just starting out, I strongly recommend that you make this festival a part of your practice. There’s no other place where you can take so many different styles of yoga from so many different established teachers in just a single weekend! Offerings include physical and posture-based yoga practices, cooking classes, workshops on meditation and mindfulness, musical performances, and even music-based practices featuring live DJs! Of course, those of you who have been going to this for years already know all this and more, so I want to take a minute to address those of you who haven’t yet made the plunge, and even more specifically, I’d like to highlight a few reasons why both existing practitioners of yoga and brand new students should each consider joining us for the festival this year.
Okay, so you already have a regular yoga practice. That’s great. You found a studio you dig, teachers you love, and are seeing results on and off the mat. Why go to this festival?
Making a commitment to a specific lineage, becoming a part of a meaningful community, and developing a meaningful relationship with your teachers and fellow students are all absolutely crucial aspects of the modern yoga tradition, but by experiencing other styles and approaches to the multifaceted yoga tradition, you will better appreciate the work you are already doing and come away with a more informed, robust yoga practice.
We all tend to gravitate towards one aspect of the practice or another, but without even realizing it, this can often result in the cultivation of a personal or studio practice which has gaps or areas that could be complemented by other traditions. For example, perhaps you are practicing somewhere that’s giving you a really strong physical practice but doesn’t spend too much time on meditation. Or maybe you have heard that yoga also involves food and nutrition and would like to learn more about ways these teachings could compliment your existing practice. As the saying goes: “you don’t know what you don’t know.” Fortunately, attending a diverse and multifaceted yoga festival like the Downtown Yoga Festival will allow you to efficiently and inexpensively sample a wide variety of different yoga traditions and teachers.
On the other hand, let’s say you’re new to yoga. You’ve heard about some of the benefits and maybe have a friend or two who goes a few times a week and can’t stop raving about it, but maybe you’re a little nervous about starting yourself. Some of it sounds good. Some of it sounds really weird, painful maybe, and you definitely aren’t as flexible as those models in the yoga pant ads.
I get it, believe me, and the truth is, most everyone who has a strong physical yoga practice (including lots of us who teach yoga) started out stiff, overweight, and out of shape. Yoga helped us improve our health on and off the mat, and it can help you too. In fact, that’s one of the primary reasons festivals like the Downtown Yoga Festival exist in the first place: to create a place where brand new students can practice with all different kinds of teachers and get a taste for what works for them. For example, did you know there are styles of yoga (many, in fact) that don’t even involve physical posture or deep stretching whatsoever?
At the Downtown Yoga Festival, you can learn how to meditate and live more mindfully, prepare delicious healthy food, belly dance, learn a few mantras and moves to take home with you, practice yoga and paddleboarding, find out more about how yoga can help you in your relationships with yourself and others, or even take a class blindfolded! Each teacher was selected for being among the best at what they do, and for their passion for sharing yoga with others, especially those who are not familiar with it. It can be hard (or even scary) to get outside your comfort zone and try new things, but doing it in a welcoming environment with lots of like-minded individuals who just want to live healthier, happier lives sure helps.
The Downtown Yoga Festival is one of the best opportunities you will ever have to begin or deepen your practice, learn more about the things you enjoy, and start a passion for something new. My team and I will be there both days, teaching and practicing, and I hope to see you on the mat as well.
Micah Scholes // Dean // Scholé Yoga University