Lessons Learned from my First Yoga Festival
This past weekend I had the JOY of attending my first yoga festival (for free!). I had no idea what to expect- Was this going to be full of Instagram-ready yogis? Would the physical practice be hard? I want to share my experience with y’all in the hopes of de-mystifying some of the trepidation around going to a festival.
The festival I went to was relatively local, so travel costs were low. I stayed in a hostel and took public transportation. The hostel was fully booked with only festival attendees, so you might ask the organizers of any festival if there’s anything like that available (drop the “yoga is for everyone” card). The whole weekend, inclusive of a welcome dinner + lecture with two full days of yoga with five 90-120 minute classes each day, cost $325. I won my ticket on Instagram (those things are real!). I definitely think it was appropriately priced for what I received.
There was an incredible variety of classes at the festival. Each morning started with a 6:30am meditation on the beach that lasted one hour. We would walk in silence to the beach and then we formed a human chain and the instructor recited a Loving Kindness Meditation. Then we stuck our toes in the water and let the waves take away our worries. It was beautiful.
After that, the morning sessions had two, two-hour blocks. For each block, there was three or four classes to choose from. I chose a variety- some classes focused on body parts (core, hips), others focused on pose awareness (balance, backbends), while still others focused on spirituality (chakra cleanse, singing bowls), and other aspects of yoga (non-violent communication, journaling). There were always multiple classes I was interested in at one time. And the blocks flew by. We broke down poses or stretched out different muscles. I never left a physical practice feeling overly strained or exhausted.
After the morning session, there was an hour for lunch, and we ate outside under tents; or there were yogi-authors with books who you could meet. The afternoon had two 90-minute blocks with different offerings than the morning. I did yoga from 6:30am to 5:00pm, in 80* heat, and time literally flew by. In each class, you could take notes, ask questions, and really leave with a greater understanding of the topic no matter your level as a yoga practitioner.
The teachers were incredible. Almost every class started with a story about something related to the class. They brought props (therapy balls, oils, blocks, etc). They were funny. They were SO REAL. One even said, “I’m not one of those precious yoga teachers who needs you to sweat your ass off” when the room got a little warm and she turned the AC on. None of them had stereotypical “yoga bodies” or cookie-cutter stories about how they came to yoga. They shared themselves and their vulnerability and grace and humor with everyone. They were incredibly accommodating, welcoming, and so approachable.
So, was everyone there Instagram-ready? NO! I went to the festival by myself and everyone was really warm and welcoming. I shared Ubers. I ate lunch with strangers. I made new friends. Some people were also part-time yoga teachers like me. Some were young, some were very old. Some focused a lot more on the spiritual connections of yoga and didn’t care as much about the physical and vice versa. No one was standoffish or bougie! I know that sounds silly, but Yoga is so often presented through Instagram and / or these beautifully set photoshoots that, even as a Bad Yogi, it can still be intimidating to go out into the unknown parts of the yoga world. However, there are a lot more Real Bad Yogis out there 🙂
The Bottom Line
If you have the opportunity to attend a festival, do it. I left feeling incredibly recharged, physically, mentally, and spiritually. I learned SO much. I feel incredible (and this was days ago!). It’s an investment in yourself, but you know your Bad Yogi self is worth it 🙂