Real Reasons to Attend a Yoga Festival /// This Yoganonymous Article Tells It Straight

Community building through assisted one-leg standing

Community building through assisted one-leg standing

I’ve never attended a yoga festival, and still do not have much of an urge to go. Contrary to what many readers might assume, my aversion doesn’t have much to do with anti-commercialism, or some well-thought-out thesis on the commodification of spirituality. In fact, until this very moment, I’ve never examined why I’ve avoided yoga festivals, in part because I haven’t actually “avoided” them. It just never occurred to me to go to one.

If I think about it, I guess my lack of yoga festival cred is due to the fact that my yoga practice begins at an hour unsuitable for festivaling, and so when I actually get around to thinking about a festival I’d like to attend, “the yoga” is already done and doner. What’s left are only those festivals that have some sort of appeal to the rest of my me-ness, so to speak. The International Pickle Festival comes to mind.

Looking hard at a pickle

Looking hard at a pickle

Looking at pickles

Also looking at pickles

For those whose interest in the yoga fest has yet to be tickled, Silvia Mordini has a thoughtful piece on what she feels are the top five reasons one might attend a yoga festival. The list is telling:

Solo adventure:
It’s a chance to travel somewhere by yourself, facing uncertainty and growth all at once. It not only gets you out of your comfort zone but also your normal yoga clique.

Community:
It is a smart way to network with a lot of passionate yogis all in one place. So whether you are trying to grow awareness, establish your personal brand, or sell a yoga product; there’s no place more conducive to doing so. The joy of connecting face-to-face instead of via social media sites like Facebook or Twitter heightens the power for future collaboration.

Trends:
A yoga festival is a direct opportunity to see what is currently trending and popular in terms of clothing, style, music, sequencing, and much more.

Inspiration:
Learning new perspectives from a variety of geographically diverse teachers boosts our collective creative energies. You can’t help but feel the life-enhancing power of being a part of the creative process.

Vacation:
A yoga festival or conference is not only partly a retreat but also a kind of yoga vacation. The locations offered this year alone are in beautiful parts of the world such as Bali, Whistler, Sedona, Arizona, Lake Tahoe, and Colorado. What better way to spend your time away from work than doing something you love and investing in your own personal growth and development?

Regardless of where you fall in the “Is yoga about practice or lifestyle” debate, it’s hard not to notice that missing from the above list is asana practice. Most of what we have here is some sort of vague self-empowerment type of attraction. In fact, if we were to replace any reference to yoga in the above list with references to a “leadership conference” the list would read more or less the same.

However, what’s interesting to me is that before attending her first yoga festival, Silvia had some apprehensions specifically related to her yoga practice. She wondered if her “yoga addiction” would be outed. She wondered if she was “good enough” to practice alongside “die-hard” practitioners. And, while after finally making it to a fest she found that practicing in the presense of a diverse array of teachers helped to inspire her commitment, what seems to have set her at ease is the very lack of practice one must be involved in at a yoga festival. Not only that, but no one seemed to notice her:

“What I found instead was no one paid any special or particular attention to me.”

But, let’s not make more of this than it is. This article does not in any significant way prove that yoga festivals are primarily geared toward the proliferation of a trending culture of commercial yoga. But, it does add to the growing pile of evidence that weigh heavily in favor of such an idea.

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26 comments

  1. Greenpoint

    so in conclusion, I guess, yoga festivals are a great place to be alone…

  2. Chai Fan

    I would not attend anything that might put me in that group warrior III situation or anything like it. But more importantly, is that second pic from the pickle festival a pickle eating contest??

  3. amphibi1yogini

    Okay, so all die hard green yogis reading this could flog me with a wet macrobiotic noodle … I’d rather be on a yoga Caribbean cruise if I could ever get away, or had the money; or if such an animal still exists. After that NYC Times Square 2013 Solstice experience–my very first, but which I doubt I would do again–I think a non-smoking mega ship would do nicely.

  4. gross

    there is truly nothing worse than having to let a group of people assist you with a warrior three.

  5. Emily

    Hey, at least she didn’t bring out the old chestnut that by practicing in a big group, yoga somehow changes the world…

    • Garuda

      Wait!!! What??? It doesnt?…CRAP! I booked The Rose Bowl for Maha Garuda’s World Championship of Yoga. I met this friendly guy named John Solarflare who rented me the entire place for $100.00. He was a scraggly looking guy with a speech impediment. I am going to have to rethink this thing now.

  6. I remember reading this article and thinking that I would probably feel the same way if I attended a yoga-fest and rebel in the same way as well….(hilarious read BTW)

    http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/emelia-symington-fedy/yoga-festival-crap_b_1840057.html

  7. Doris

    “Regardless of where you fall in the “Is yoga about practice or lifestyle” debate, it’s hard not to notice that missing from the above list is asana practice.” Ha ha ha !

  8. Aaron

    Im not sure where to begin. I personally feel that it is not yoga,that it is more so bullshit! It’s the western world at its finest! Yet again fucking something up that truly should not be messed with! Patanjali now being called “Pat”, are you fucking kidding?!?! Fuck Lululemon! They don’t give a shit about yoga or the teacher/practitioner. The creators of wanderlust are fucktards! The list could go on.This has become a commercial industry that is trying to make a quick buck. Robots! Robots! Robots! Stop! I realize that what I’m saying maybe a bit vulgar. I am not trying to offend but Im frustrated with all of it. If your intentions are good and have integrity then keep on keepin on but if your trying to be some “yoga star” or getting into yoga for a job,career, basically in it for the money then faaaaaack off! I could go off about all this but I’m hiding in the bathroom at my 5 to 5, 6 days a wk job, and don’t have the time right now. I have lots of love for every one! I truly mean that! The Yogis,robots,fucktards, and every one in between! But when is enough enough? I’m all about supporting, community building,etc,etc., but this is not that. Lots of love. Sorry of I hurt some ones feelings!

    • silki

      Aaron, please, PLEASE!, just take a few deep breaths and maybe, if your body tells you it’s the right thing, eat a pickle.

  9. I don’t go to Yoga festivals simply because I’m a hermit. I don’t even go out to meet my neighbors.

    However, I’m a very gregarious hermit, as hermits go, so the Internet is just perfect for me–I can have lots of good friends without leaving my cave except to go to the kitchen to get ice cream and to spend time with my wife, of course, who is not so hermity, but embraces my hermitity.

    When I have gone to Yoga festivals, I do enjoy them, but not for the mass events, but because I inevitably get to meet in person for the first time a few of my long-time online yoga world friends, and it’s always wonderful.

    Enjoying your blog, although sometimes I think you could be a bit nicer, like YogaDawg or something. (But then YogaDawg was so nice that he didn’t piss off anyone, even though he covered pretty much the same satirical ground as you, and that wouldn’t be any fun. He actually had all his victims laughing right along with him.)

    Bob

    Bob Weisenberg
    Best of Yoga Philosophy (http://bit.ly/13WYsIM)

  10. Linda-Sama

    “It’s a chance to travel somewhere by yourself, facing uncertainty and growth all at once. It not only gets you out of your comfort zone but also your normal yoga clique.”

    you want to face uncertainty and growth and get out of your comfort zone? going to India solo does a hell of a lot better job of that…. and I don’t mean on a package tour or staying in 5 star hotels. do a bus trip at night through Tamil Nadu after eating a bad pakora and then tell me how it’s cool to get out of your comfort zone. ;)

    • I would love to see the faces of some of these Wanderlust groupies when encountering a real Asian-Indian toilet (i.e- open hole in the ground) in some truck stop on the way to Rishikesh and not a lick of toilet paper in sight but a tiny bucket of water, after they ate that bad pakora.

  11. housenation

    Pat didn’t really have much to say about Asana either.

    • Except for that boring seated one.

      • housenation

        Exactaly, but here in the west it would appear that most people think yoga = asana. It’s a start I guess?
        BTW it’s less boring if you fill your mind with what your going to have for your dinner.

        • wait, you mean there’s more to yoga than asana? so that’s what my friend’s really awesomely designed limited edition laser-etched (it says “Om Shanti,” OMG how cool!) Nadi Shodhana stainless steel nostril clamp is for. it doubles as a roach clip! OMG and a hair clip!

  12. Hummmmmmmmmmmm, YUP Is All I Can Offer Here and Agree, andddddddddddd I Sooooooooooooo LoVE The Authentic SELF Expression, Especially When They Have The Guts To Express Publicly In A Way I Wish I Could, HaHa, Cracking Up, Thank You

    YUP!!!!!!!
    * It’s the western world at its finest! Yet again fucking something up that truly should not be messed with!
    * Patanjali now being called “Pat”, are you fucking kidding?!?! Fuck Lululemon!
    * The creators of wanderlust are fucktards! The list could go on!!!!
    * This has become a commercial industry that is trying to make a quick buck. Robots! Robots! Robots! Stop! * I realize that what I’m saying maybe a bit vulgar. I am not trying to offend but Im frustrated with all of it.
    * I have lots of love for every one! I truly mean that! The Yogis,robots,fucktards, and every one in between! But when is enough enough? I’m all about supporting, community building,etc,etc., but this is not that. Lots of love. Sorry of I hurt some ones feelings!

    Agreed and Thank You ♡

  13. The P

    Community = networking opportunities!

    Probably the most honest and real definition of yoga “community” I have seen to date. Although another definition I might add is yoga community = an exclusive clique masquerading as an open spiritual community.

  14. novecho

    next they’ll be calling pickles, pics …….or eating pickles will be considered green yoga

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