by Marzena Wojcik, June 2019
Ever wanted to attend a yoga festival, and haven’t had a chance to ever go to one? Or maybe you have, but you’ve never attended the Banff Yoga Festival (BYF).
If you’re curious about how and what went on, keep on reading, as I share with you some details.
Banff Yoga Festival I think was a great way of meeting the broader yoga community, discovering new teachers, reinvigorating your practice…
As a reader you must know that I write from a vantage point of a student and participant of the festival. I did not teach at the festival but one day aspire to.
BYF I think was a great way of meeting the broader yoga community, discovering new teachers, reinvigorating your practice, experiencing new teachers and different class styles I’ve never tried before. BYF left me inspired to do more yoga in general, as it reminded it how amazing the practice is. Especially in a larger class size setting (i.e. 50 or more students). Even the music incorporated during classes, made the experience even more fun and better immersed me into the soul of the BYF. Some of the larger classes had a live DJ which was on point. The rhythm of our bodies moving with breath, matched the music’s rhythm, as the DJ made sure of that.
More about my day at the festival….
I attended one day at the BYF, the Saturday May 25, 2019. I took part in six classes starting at 8 AM all the way to the evening, 8:00 PM. 12 hours of pure yoga, which included me running to and from classes to make sure I could get the most out of my day. Oh and I found myself only having slivers of time to eat! It was exhilarating. With an early start I could really maximize on this and get in as much classes as I could.
What my Saturday looked like:
6 classes in 12 hours
3 1/2 hours of pure yoga physical flow
1 hour of Yoga Nidra with a soundscape (crystal bowls, 7 bowls, one for each of the 7 chakras)
75 mins of Restorative yoga with hot stones
4 hours of meditation (combined from all the classes I attended)
Fascia release with rolling techniques
An unconventional vinyasa class with repetitive movements, fired up the body
A inspiring talk on caring less about what others think and manifesting more
A break down…
It was harder to give up with the energy in the room from all the yogis and the support from Jilaine encouraging us all to keep going.
To start off the yoga day I attended the Soulscape class led by Jilaine Beddoe, for a 100mins, what I would sum up as a non-conventional flow with repetitive movements, which was intended to challenge the mind to give up, as the movements repeating over and over definitely got tiring and I easily wanted to give up. It was a challenging physical practice. The room was filled with over 100 yogis. BUT, I will say it was harder to give up with the energy in the room from all the yogis and the support from Jilaine encouraging us all to keep going. I could see how effective that repetitive movement technique was, as you want to give up as soon as it gets physically harder, which sets in probably after the first 15 repetitions, and the longer you go the intensity of going up grows. BUT we were repeatedly reminded to take the mind out of that negative thought, and to not give up and keep the body moving, as our bodies are stronger than we believe (as that saying goes).
I need to ROLL my body more often and all over not just some of my more obvious problem areas.
Right after I attended Martina Benesova’s Self “love” Fascia Release, which included rolling techniques with a lacrosse ball. I personally do rolling on my body regularly, BUT the workshop style class reminded me that I need to ROLL my body more often and all over not just some of my more obvious problem areas. One big take away was rolling my pectoral muscles more, as the desk jockey life unfortunately shortens those muscles, which can pull my shoulders forward. Rolling out the pecs can help lengthen the muscles and help me maintain a better posture. Great tips from Martina that I’ll incorporate into my home practice and overall body maintenance. Once the class ended I had a 30 mins window to walk back from Juniper Hotel to get to my next class back at Fenlands Recreation Centre where most of the classes were being held.
Hearing hundreds of yogis together OM-ing was energizing.
By now it was noon! And next up was a style of yoga I was new to, Jivamukti (with Matthew Lomnardo). It was quite the intricate flow taking us from standing to seated, back to standing then seated once again. Quite the grounding practice as throughout the flow, we were reconnected with the literal ground. This class had some chanting, flow, meditation and a closing chant and sweet sweet OM. Great mix of more elements of yoga rather than just physical “asana”. Hearing hundreds of yogis together OM-ing was energizing. The vibrations from our sound together was electrifying.
…how we need to tap into self inquiry and manifest/believe in our selves, really tapping into what limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and getting beyond them.
Right after the Juvamukti class, I headed to Stacey Irvine’s “Arise: A workshop to Manifest and Rise”. Stacey’s talk incorporated a great balance of talking, 20 mins of flow/movement, which challenged the body, and then a meditation that was guided by a beautiful song 11 mins long (we were told) that led us through a meditation/mantra/chant. We ended the class with more discussions around how we need to tap into self inquiry and manifest/believe in our selves, really tapping into what limiting beliefs we have about ourselves and getting beyond them. To send us off Stacey ended the class with a shorter meditation to seal all the themes she discussed. Great way to truly reflect again.
After Arise I had a break for an hour to eat, check out the market, and then walk to downtown Banff to the Rocky Mountain Yoga Studio for my next class.
By now it was the afternoon…
The afternoon was the more chill side of my yoga day. I strategically chose yoga classes that were more passive as I knew after the mornings more energizing flow based classes, I’d need it.
Restorative yoga with hot stones with Dawn Petrin was next! The class was very relaxing, limited postures done during in order to allow for less movement and more relaxing, all while hot stones were placed on my body all throughout the class. The hot stones were changed constantly once they had fallen off the body. Longer holds of postures allowed the hot stones to really do their magic. The class had about 5 ladies walking around placing stones on the students bodies and replacing them with hotter ones. My body and mind could relax and I found myself at ease. This class was about 75mins of pure relaxation. Dawn’s voice is very calming, sweet and warm - guiding us through a relaxing experience.
Once class ended I walked back to the main venue, Fenlands Recreation Centre and I ended the yoga day with a Yoga Nidra and Sound Journey led by Kristen Stuart and Yinet Gonzalez Gomez, whom accompanied Kristen playing beautiful crystal bowls, one bowl for every chakra (the first picture in this blog post shows the colours of the bowls). Beautiful sounds while we were led through a meditative experience, yoga nidra also referred to as sleep yoga.
I’ve heard many Yoga Nidra teachers say that 20 mins of Yoga Nidra practice equates to 4 hours of quality sleep. I believe it as the body and mind truly get to relax while you focus on not falling asleep and allowing the body to be completely still…
From the entire day my FAVOURITE class was the Yoga Nidra and Sound Journey class. Not sure if it was more of what I needed at the time (deep rest) after practising 5 classes, 4 of which were more flow/movement based, or if the vibe of the class was just on point. The class had Yinet playing the crystal bowls which were 7 bowls, one for each of the chakras. The crystal bowls added to the ambiance and calming element with sound. I felt amazing, at ease during the practice listening to the vibrations coming from the bowls, and the smooth and soothing voice of the yoga teacher, Kristen. The soundscape of the crystal bowls for class was perfect. Leaving me feeling energized post class, which helped for my drive home. I’ve heard many Yoga Nidra teachers say that 20 mins of Yoga Nidra practice equates to 4 hours of quality sleep. I believe it as the body and mind truly get to relax while you focus on not falling asleep and allowing the body to be completely still. Being led through a meditation during this state allows the mind to relax as well. Truly a restful, calming, and introspective experience.
The BYF had so much on the schedule to choose from. Ranging from different class styles, workshops, paddle boarding, different talks and I even saw an oil blending class you could take part in. I won’t get into listing all the options you could’ve signed up for over the weekend, I’ll let you check out their website: https://banffyogafestival.com
With the amount of meditation, pranayama (breathing) exercises and overall moving I did in a day it was apparent to me and reminded me of the magic yoga truly does, if we practice.
But what I will say is, there was something for everyone to take part in, especially those that love all things yoga. After being two weeks post BYF, I still felt my physical body and how it opened, some muscle soreness, as I was challenged physically in new ways (especially from that repetitive movement in The Soulscape). I’ve even incorporated a few things into my practice and classes I teach that I learned from the day!
Right away after the Saturday yoga day, I felt lighter mentally as my mind was calmed and able to regain clarity which continued throughout the week and into this week. With the amount of meditation, pranayama (breathing) exercises and overall moving I did in a day it was apparent to me and reminded me of the magic yoga truly does, if we practice. Especially from a day full of YOGA! And the ENERGY shared, truly infectious.
BYF was great way to share space with a broader yoga community, it was fun, relaxing (with the last two classes I chose) and truly an impactful, inspiring and soulful experience. I am inspired to try new things and play more with my teaching - from new movements, poses and incorporating more breath work. From more repetitive non conventional vinyasa movements, to incorporating more time for meditation in my classes, I leave with new ideas and perspective.
The BYF will leave any student or yoga teacher alike inspired, reinvigorated and drawn to the energy of community to share what YOGA can do for our lives.
Can’t wait for next years yoga festival! I know it will be a great time filled with sharing our energy with other yogis in the broader community and leaving inspired.
Hope you enjoyed me sharing my experience of how my day at BYF was!
Share with me in comments if you attended BYF I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on the event or what you loved about the festival!
This blog is a piece of my heart…
If you’re still reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. I look forward to sharing more.
Please like, or share this post on the socials, it would mean the world to me.
Until next time my readers and yogis…
For more information on the Banff Yoga Festival check out there web page https://banffyogafestival.com/festival-schedule/