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Yoga Festivals and Conferences
Spring and summer are festival season! Sailing enthusiasts flock to regattas and runners look for races. The yoga community is no stranger to the group experience, and in the United States there are a number of events in which yogis and yoginis can participate. As is true for all festivals, there is a vast variety of experiences, from yurt camping to staying in posh hotels. The trick is to find the event thatís personally right for the individual.
Bhakti Fest is the yogic version of the Coachella Music Festival Ė itís an unwieldly, multi-day experience that includes asana practice with superstar teachers, concerts featuring noted kirtan singers, dance and meditation experiences, and workshops on various aspects of the yoga lifestyle. Three different festivals are currently planned: Shakti Fest takes place in May in Joshua Tree, California; the Midwest Retreat is in June in Northlake, Illinois; and Bhakti West takes place in September in Joshua Tree. Hotel lodging is available for the Northwest Retreat, while the Joshua Tree locations provide access to both camping and hotel stays.
Yoga Journal Live! presents itself as more of a conference than a festival, but there are similar opportunities to work with famous teachers. The experience is presented in different areas over the summer, from Massachusetts in May, California in June, Colorado in September, and Florida (where summer never ends) in November. Yoga Journal, which was originally published by the California Yoga Teachers Association, offers continuing education credits for yoga teachers who participate various workshops within a conference, but non-teachers are also encouraged to attend. The list of teachers is truly extensive, and there are classes geared to all levels of yoga. In addition, there is an broad marketplace, and those interested in shopping for yoga props, clothing, and other items will find a nice aggregation of merchants during the convention.
Wanderlust is an evolving yoga festival that is gaining in popularity. This summer, the presenters will host jubilees every two weeks at locations all over North America, starting in West Virginia in June and moving through Vermont, Colorado, California, British Columbia, and Quebec. For those who want an international Wanderlust experience, there is even a festival in Queensland, Australia, in October. Wanderlust bills itself as Ďan all-out experience in mindful living,í and the celebration includes asana practice, kirtan and other music, other athletic events such as running, hiking, and biking, a lecture series, and sustainable food offerings.
Festivals are not inexpensive. Attending one of the above or a different venue (this article barely scratches the surface of offerings all over the globe) can cost the balance of oneís annual travel. For those on limited incomes, perhaps a one-day pass to an event close to home is enough to offer a taste of the experience. For those willing to commit more time and money, a weekend or week might be the vacation for the year. Festivals offer the chance to experience the truly global yoga community and to immerse oneself in any aspect of yoga practice, or in a variety. For those wanting to go beyond weekly asana classes, itís a fun way to move forward.
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