Summer’s here and the time is right for dancing in the streets—or at least for practicing yoga all day and dancing all night. Yoga festivals have pretty much supplanted the yoga conferences of old. These celebrations combine all-day asana with evening music.
It pays to be prepared. The days are long, and if you want to take advantage of as many classes you’ll be doing a whole lot of practice. A few weeks to a month before you go, you might want to ramp up your practice a bit. If you plan on going to every available class, you’ll want to be in shape. While yoga practice isn’t supposed to cause sore muscles, any physical practice can make you sore if you’re doing it all day long, especially when you’re not ready for it.
That said, give yourself the latitude to skip a class and rest sometimes too. Remember that one of the definitions of “asana” is “rest.” It’s more than okay to take time out and give your body and mind a break. Especially if you tend toward introversion, all-day exposure to lots of people can be exhausting. Spend some alone time and read, meditate or take a walk in nature.
A yoga festival is a great place to get to know your ego:
- Do you want to be noticed for your awesome flexibility? In that case, it might be good to do a little less. Again, practicing so much asana can seriously burn a body out.
- Do you have a goal to participate in as many classes as possible? Listen to your body. If you’re exceptionally tired, a 108-sun-salutation class might not be your best choice.
Here are some yoga festival essentials:
- Travel yoga mat: While the festival might provide mats, it’s really nice to have a mat of your own to practice on.
- Yoga mat carrier: A carrier can make “commutes” between classes a whole lot easier.
- Water bottle: It’s easier to stay hydrated when you’re carrying your bottle with you.
- Extra yoga clothing: If you’re doing a ton of practice, you’ll likely want several changes of clothing.
- Non-yoga clothing: Yoga pants may be a fashion item, but it’s really nice to change into some comfy regular clothing when you’re not practicing.
- A warm layer: Even in the summer, if you choose to practice restorative or yin yoga, you might get cool, because these practices can radically cool your body. Socks might not be a bad idea either, for those mellower classes.
- Earplugs: Amplified music can be anywhere from pretty loud to deafening. Earplugs will allow you to hear the music just fine, but can take the edge off the most damaging volumes.
Remember that asana is about balance. Yoga Sutra 2.46: “The physical posture should be steady and comfortable.” So, enjoy an intensive asana experience, but remember to be kind to your body too. Approaching your practice with a balanced body/mind will make your festival experience even more enjoyable!