It’s no secret to anyone who knows me – I love yoga events of all kinds – especially an all-day yoga conference or festival. So I am more than excited that this year, for the first time ever, there will be a yoga festival in Asbury Park, hosted by the New Jersey Yoga Collective – the VibeWell Yoga Festival at the Asbury Hotel on Sunday, October 14!
There’s something about the energy at an all-day event where hundreds of yogis are gathered to practice, learn and celebrate their experience with this thing called yoga. I’ve attended the Yoga Journal Conference every year since 2010 except for the year when it conflicted with my teacher training weekend. To be honest, not every session or workshop I’ve attended has met my expectations, but the overall experience has always been invaluable. Unfortunately, the conference has been discontinued; last spring’s event was the swan song. Yoga Journal has decided to re-think their model for bringing yoga to their subscribers and is focusing now on online training.
All the more reason to embrace this new festival in my own backyard!
If you’ve never attended a yoga festival or conference, it helps if you do just a small bit of preparation in advance to maximize your experience.
Manage Your Schedule and Expectations
When you register for the event, read over the entire schedule carefully so that you get a good overall idea of the slate of offerings. There will often be more than one class being offered at the same time that you want to take. Do you want to take your favorite teacher to get a new perspective in a different setting, or do you want to go with someone who you’ve never taken a class with before but have heard a lot about? Or is the theme of a particular class calling to you? The descriptions of the class may be very broad or may promise the moon – so take everything with a grain of salt and keep an open mind. Talk to your friends and see what experiences they’ve had, especially with a teacher you’re unfamiliar with. Go with your gut and remember that you can usually adjust your schedule up until the day of the event.
Choose Your Sessions Wisely
Keep in mind that you’ll be there all day. So, PACE YOURSELF! If you’re tempted to sign up for 3 or 4 high-powered flow classes with core work, arm balances and extreme backbends, resist that temptation. I typically schedule at least one slow, or gentle, or restorative session, particularly in the afternoon to give my body a much-needed break. I tend to schedule the more challenging classes in the morning when I’m more rested and energized and more stretchy classes for the afternoon when my body is more open. The good news is that if you do exhaust yourself, you can opt out of a class on the day of the event. Go visit the marketplace or vendor area to refresh yourself.
Give yourself plenty of time to check in and register and get the lay of the land. Get a floor plan so you know where you need to be for each session so you can navigate smoothly throughout the day. Why add stress to a fun-packed day? (For extra convenience, indulge in the Bhakti VIP Pass to get premium mat space in each session.)
Most venues for yoga events will have variable temperatures from room to room. Dress in layers. That additional long sleeve top can be a godsend during savasana. If you’re a sweaty yogi like me, you may want to bring an additional change of clothes so that you feel fresh during the afternoon sessions.
Bring Your Own Props and Supplies
If you typically use blocks or blankets or straps, I would strongly suggest bringing them along. Not all instructors will provide props during the practice. I will often bring one block and maybe a blanket, which usually suffices for most situations. I also make sure I have a towel, a refillable bottle of water, some light snacks, and a small notebook and pen to take notes. Check out your swag bag and see if there’s anything you can use during the event. (If you sign up for the Bhakti VIP Pass, I’m told that there will be gems in the swag bag.)
Network, Network, Network!
Especially if you’re a yoga teacher, use this opportunity to meet people from your community who you can learn from or connect with in the future. Bring business cards if you have them and exchange information with people you meet. This is the perfect opportunity to connect with like-minded people in a warm and welcoming environment.
The amount of information thrown at you can become overwhelming. You’re there, most of all, to enjoy yourself. So immerse yourself in each undertaking, back off if you’re tired and just take in the whole experience! And make sure you engage in some retail therapy – there are sure to be some discounts and bargains offered by the sponsors and vendors!
May Louie first took yoga in college to fulfill a Phys-Ed requirement and immediately fell in love. She, unfortunately, did not continue with her practice but reconnected with it when she retired from her corporate job in 2002 and has since become a serious yoga enthusiast. After her second retirement last year, she completed her 200-hour RYT certification, studying with Dina Crosta, Ellen Mosko, and Jamie Segal Hanley, with a focus on alignment based flow.
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