A few days ago, a colleague contacted me out of the blue and offered me a free ticket to the upcoming 'Yoga and Pilates Conference and Show'. She's a personal trainer and is completely disinterested and bored by yoga (resulting in hilarious conversations; another story for another time). She had no interest in using this ticket, which was for the 'show', so she gave it to me.
Full disclosure: I'm a yoga conference skeptic. For years, I've kind of rolled my eyes at the whole thing and if anyone asked, told them that it was an silly waste of money. So I had *really* low expectations going in. I figured that a one-day pass to the 'show' would get me two hours on my feet, looking at Yoga T-shirts, yoga socks, mala beads, palm readers and maybe a few good food samples. I was right about the food samples, but there was more...
I was pleasantly surprised. For starters, the people at the door were not communicating well and after I offered my free one-day coupon to get in, I was presented with a three-day wristband instead of the one-day hand stamp. Oops.
For the first little bit, as expected, I walked around and rolled my eyes a lot. But then I got my hands on a Show schedule and discovered that in the 'Yoga Garden' area, there are free workshops going on all day. Pretty much anyone who's anyone at this conference was giving a short presentation at the Yoga Garden at some point during the weekend. For free.
So I camped out in the Yoga Garden on a loaner mat and did free yoga classes. It was awesome.
I did about two hours of yoga, in bits and pieces. In the process, I experienced some of the stupidest vinyasa yoga I've ever encountered, learned about yoga and neuroscience, listened to a fabulous presentation entitled 'Yoga for the Planet' (an anti-consumerism rant that was ironic, given the location), and was inspired by some amazing teachers (and dumbfounded by some very bad ones).
There was one Astanga session, with Mark and Joanne Darby. I was excited about this because I use their DVD periodically. The session was short, really just sun salutation A. I spoke with Mark afterward though and found him to be a kind, modest and helpful. It was such a pleasure to meet the two of them in person. I was also deeply impressed by the Himalayan Institute's Rolf Sovik, who did a short presentation on Yoga for Meditation. His session was rich with information on strengthening the back for long periods of sitting.
In the evening, there was a free two-hour session of 'Journey Dance' with Toni Bergins. I had seen this advertised at a local yoga studio but couldn't go, so I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try it. It was really wonderful. If you like touch-feely hippy-style free-dance, then this would be right up your alley. I felt like a 5-year-old kid again, particularly during the part where we danced around with floaty silk scarves. The two hours passed by quickly. I emerged sweaty and happy.
All in all, it was worthwhile and I'm going back tomorrow, since I have the option to.
For reference, here are the sessions I attended:
Maria Garre - Vinyasa Flow
Lisa Black - Baptiste Yoga (but it was really a lecture on pre-natal; *yawn*)
Blake Martin - The Brain and Yoga
Mark and Joanne Darby - Ashtanga Yoga
Bernie Clark - Yoga for the Planet
Rolf Sovik - Yoga for Meditation
Yogi Vishvketu - Yoga