Who am I kidding?? There was no bad OR ugly. It was just good. Great, even. Amazing. Awesome. Just really, really bonkers good. Since I’m running out of adjectives, I will start from the beginning.
This was the inaugural year for the Dubuque Yoga Festival. The organizers, Scott and Julia Theisen, are the owners of Body and Soul in Dubuque, IA. They did an absolutely amazing job. I mean, I’ve never been to a yoga festival before, so I can’t compare it to other yoga festivals, but I can compare it to other conferences and conventions I’ve attended. The organizers did a great job of, well, organizing! The rooms were clearly laid out, the agenda was clear, the programming was fantastic, the lunches on Friday and Saturday were thoughtfully planned, and the entertainment on Friday night was very fun and engaging.
I attended all 3 days of the festival. On Friday I spent the day with Max Strom learning about “Inner Axis Essentials.” I took TWELVE pages of notes on his class. Friday night we went to the evening ceremony which consisted of a keynote address from Sadie Nardini, a yoga/dance/costume runway show that was super colorful, very beautiful, and perfectly done, and a group dance done by people who just oozed rhythm. They were mesmerizing to watch. They cast on a spell on me to the point that I actually got up and danced some crazy line dance with the rest of the crowd. I did not do it WELL, mind you, but I did it. :) It was super fun.
I started Saturday by attending a Kundalini Yoga session at 5AM. It begin with a 20 minute chant, followed by a 30 minute asana practice, and closed by several other chants. It was interesting to attend, but once was enough for me! Saturday I took a class from Sadie on creating your best yoga class ever. Then I attended a class on Raise Your Vibration (using Kundalini yoga) during which I shook out all my bad energy by dancing like I have not since I went to a rave in high school. Saturday afternoon I took another Sadie class, Learning to Fly. She helps you use physics to do inversions – bending the elbows and pushing the hands into the earth to push the body up into the air. I was EXHAUSTED by the end of the two hours, but I had 2 or 3 moments of clarity where I felt the lift of flight. I practiced her techniques a bit more this morning and was able to hold my crow for longer than I ever have before. With more practice, I think I will eventually be able to float. :)
We closed out the day by attending a gong ceremony. What is a gong ceremony, you may ask? Well, let me tell you! The attendees circled their mats around 4 or 5 humongous gongs and several crystal bowls. After an introduction encouraging us to close our eyes and meditate on the sound, we laid back on our mats and were submerged in rolling waves of sound. You could feel the sounds crest and fall over you. It was unlike anything I’ve experienced. We were there for an hour, but I think 30 minutes would have been just right. By the end of the hour, I was very uncomfortable from laying on the hard floor, so my mind kept wandering off the sounds. However, if you ever get a chance to go to a gong ceremony, DO IT!!
By the time the ceremony was completed, we were utterly exhausted and hungry. We went to a delicious Ukrainian restaurant, Europa Cafe. After eating lots of delicious food, we retired to the hotel to watch Mean Girls. Don’t judge!!
Sunday morning we got coffee and breakfast at a great spot, Jitters Cafe. They only had breakfast paninis. When I asked if they had gluten-free bread for the panini, they said, no, but they could add the panini fixings to a spring green salad for me. Perfect!! It was so tasty. After breakfast I went to a session on balancing chakras. WHOLE LEE COW. She showed us how you can measure someone’s chakras by dangling a necklace with a heavy fob on the end over the chakra. Depending how how it spins and what direction it spins, you can tell the state of that chakra. I was watching the teacher’s arm very closely to see if she was moving the necklace and causing it to spin. It really didn’t look like it. I want to try it. I need to do more research on chakras and see what science there is behind it. Truthfully it kind of freaked me out – not in a way that I was scared of it, just in the way that I felt as if I was seeing magic. :)
After that session, I was supposed to go to Sadie’s Core Transformation class. But I still felt rather wrecked from the Learning to Fly class. I thought that Max Strom was teaching a chest and shoulders class at the same time, so I decided to go to that instead. Well, once he started talking, I realized that I was sitting in a workshop on forgiveness! There was no yoga to be had! I considered slipping out the back to go to Sadie’s class instead, but that seemed really rude. Plus the room had a huge wall of windows overlooking the tree-lined bluffs along the Mississippi. It was a beautiful room, and a wise man with lots to teach was speaking. I better stay. I am so glad I did! The workshop helped me realize that I am holding on to some things that I did not realize. I got shit to work on. That is FO SHO.
The day closed at 12:30 with a ceremony that involved us all sitting in a big room holding hands, sending positive energy to the person next to us, and then sending love to the whole universe. Yes, yes. I know it sounds hippy dippy. But man, was it so nice to be around that kind of genuine positivity for 3 days. Everyone was happy, smiling, helpful, and glad to be in that space and time. I absolutely loved it.
I will write more about what I learned in the upcoming days. This blog post is already getting too long.
Oh! Shoot. I wanted to give some words of advice for others who may be attending their first yoga festival. BRING SOMETHING TO SIT ON!! Sitting cross-legged on your mat for 3 days gets to be very uncomfortable. Pack a meditation cushion or yoga block or something. Also, bring snacks! None were available around the festival. And dress in layers. The conference rooms were wicked cold. Several attendees brought blankets with them, and they were smart to do so. And socks. For the love of God, bring socks.
Ok, now I’m really done. How about you? Have you ever been to a yoga festival? Is this what they are usually like?
Take care and talk to you soon!