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continued from page 69 at the festival. "When we can get that many people together for yoga, then we're doing good. It was really amazing to have that many people chanting and doing yoga. People were up all night; it was beautifUl," she says.
yoga rocks: evolve
Yoga festivals can happen anywhere and don't need to be pegged to "rock star" instruction. Inspired by a small yoga class that he'd taken in the early-morning mud at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in Tennessee, Dave Bryson, a yoga teacher in New Jersey, started the Evolve Music & Yoga Festival in 2007, with the goal of raising $5,000 for a local rural organization called Kids Camp, which provides environmental education and free health screening for low-income kids. The first Evolve event featured 30 bands from the Northeast jam-band and bar circuit. Bryson also scheduled a few yoga classes, but much to his surprise, nearly a thousand people showed up who were just as interested in doing asana as rocking out. A full-on yoga festival broke out.
"People were doing partner yoga out in the fields," he says. "There were people meditating and doing yoga on the docks."
In 2009, the festival's third year, Bryson said the music and the yoga were equally important. He booked 70 bands and 16 yoga instructors, and says it all worked together brilliantly. "The festival's focus is on self-improvement and health, as opposed to other music festivals, where the focus is on partying and getting wasted," he says. "But I also had some good hard-rockin' bands, with a real focus on bringing music that's danceable. I want to encourage yoga people to come out and lighten up and loosen up and dance."
cradle of love: THE cRIB
Kira Ryder, who runs a yoga studio in Ojai, California, was several years ahead of the spinal curve. In 2003 she started a festival called the Ojai Yoga Crib, and seven years later, it's still running. "When your livelihood is yoga," she says, "it becomes a really neat practice to invite a few hundred ofyour best friends to come to town and relax. It's something that we were unexplainably compelled to do."
Ryder had been to several yoga conferences and had always had a good time, but she sometimes felt as though they were an impersonal grab bag of experiences. She had the "crazy idea" to start a more intimate alternative. Rather than have attendees choose classes from a menu, Ryder asked them to trust Yoga Crib to put their personal schedules together for them. "I said to my husband, 'This is going to be a lot of work.' And he said, 'Well, what else are we going to do?'"
Her festival, she decided, would be based on trust and love. It would be called something comfortable and soothing, hence the name "Yoga Crib." And it would feature her main teacher, Erich Schiffmann (the author of Yoga: the Spirit and Practice of Moving into Stillness), whom she describes as a "great big Chewbacca of love." The aim would be to encourage a deep personal self-investigation of love.
Ryder charges $400 for her Ojai festival, excluding food and lodging, and in 2009, for the first time, she let people pay for their tickets on a layaway plan. "Some people stay at the spa," she says, "some camp, some work out payment plans, some work on the crew, some become guests because it's their year to be there for free." In yoga land, she says, everything has a way of aligning.
"The first year, I didn't know if anybody was having a good time, because I was worrying if we were out of toilet paper," Ryder says. "But you develop real experience. You really start to see that everything handles itself."
HIGH LIFE: TELLURiDE
Starting a yoga festival can be a logistical nightmare, but it actually follows a fairly simple formula: Take a place of stunning natural beauty and add a strong, overarching theme. It also helps to have a big-name teacher around who can peg your event and draw other popular teachers.
Aubrey Hackman of Telluride, Colorado, followed the formula perfectly. In 2007 Hackman returned home from her Jivamukti Yoga teacher training with a desire to do good works, but also with
putside the Haf
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