Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Evolution of Yoga Events

When I was in college, I would often wake up at the ungodly hour of 8:00 a.m. on Saturday mornings (the college equivalent of roughly 5:00 a.m. for the rest of society) to attend an ashtanga yoga class in a church basement off campus.  It was an incredibly challenging 2-hour class, and I was younger than the other yogis by a decade or more.  I still recall how peaceful, reverent, and special these classes felt, and this Saturday morning ritual became my first idea of a yoga "event."  I would look forward to class all week, and, for me, it took on the air of a special occasion.  

My peers, of course, thought I was a weirdo, and I can scarcely blame them.  I would slip out my apartment's front door, past the beer pong table, while my three roommates slept.  One sunny Virginia morning, I trotted toward my car, yoga mat in tow, surprised to see that my neighbors were awake, along with their entire fraternity on the front lawn.  Just a few hours earlier we'd heard them "sledding" down their carpeted stairs on cookie sheets, so I suspect they probably hadn't gone to bed yet.  This might come as a shock, but they weren't going to yoga.  They were getting an early start on tailgating for the football game that day.  Now, that's an event, especially in the South.

I winced when one of them asked me where I was going.

"Yoga," I offered sheepishly (a hint of a question in my voice).

To which there wasn't so much of a response as a confused and drunken expression (without being drunken, the expression would doubtless remain confused: what the heck is yoga? said the expression), followed by the generous offer of a huge red plastic cup filled with jungle juice.  I politely declined, waved good bye, and drove away.    

This was ten years ago, and, oh my, how yoga and the criteria for its events have changed.  From stealing away for my makeshift Saturday morning yoga parties in 2000 to joining 10,000+ other yogis for a class in Central Park this June, to flying to Colorado for the newest yoga and music festival in July, big yoga and wellness events with broad appeal are now the norm.  

This month, there are several events on my radar: 

Yoga Reaches Out/Global Mala: The largest yoga event in New England to date, this daylong yoga benefit for Children's Hospital Boston and Yoga for Single Moms will be held at Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots.  This event coincides with Global Mala, an annual yoga event, wherein yogis around the world gather in their respective cities to practice yoga and support local and national charitable organizations (is your city participating?).  I'll be teaching at Boston's Global Mala at Gillette, along with featured om gal pals such as Chanel Luck, Bonnie Argo, and Amy Leydon.  The day's headliner will be Ana Forest, creator of Forest Yoga, who is sure to bring her A-game.

Reach the Beach: It's not a yoga event but a 200-mile adventure relay in New Hampshire.  I ran it a few years ago with an inspiring team of gals (that's us at the finish line, below), and this year I'm honored to help teams feel more zen before their 24-hours of running (at times with a head lamp to light the way), riding in a van (praying that the elected teammate-driver knows the way), and not sleeping (which makes the way a little delirious).  The sheer fact that this hardcore endurance race, in its 11th year, is offering a yoga session the night before race day shows you how far yoga events and experiences have come in the last decade.  I can't wait to help these "om athletes" gear up for the adventure!

Natural Living Expo: The focus of this annual event in Western MA is more holistic than strictly yoga, but you can bet your Birkenstocks there will be plenty of yoga types in attendance.  Myself included.

Beauty, Fashion, & Wellness Event in conjunction with Boston Fashion Week: I'm looking forward to seeing the photo exhibit associated with this event (I'm featured along with other talented yoga teachers and friends) by photographer Arturo Martinez.  The posh party benefits the Zakim Center for Integrative Therapies at Dana-Farber, which provides new approaches to cancer care such as meditation, acupuncture, and more.  

Which yoga events do you plan to attend this fall, and in your opinion, what makes a great yoga event?  The size?  The venue?  The teacher(s)?  The jungle juice?  The kombucha samples?  Share the inside scoop here by posting a comment.  

1 comment:

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