This past weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the Yoga Journal Conference held in NYC. Yoga Journal, considerably the most renowned yoga magazine in existence, hosts four conferences a year in locations across the United States. I was among 2,000 yogis and yoginis, teachers, teachers-in-training, and students who attended this weekend’s conference.
The event drew an abundance of all the well-known names in yoga, including Shiva Rea, Rodney Yee, Dharma Mittra, Seane Corn, Rod Stryker, Cyndi Lee, and more. Classes were held all day long (9-5) from a variety of schools of yoga, with sessions available for a wide-range of experience levels and learning goals. There were meditation-geared classes, standing and balancing-focused classes, specific body part/muscle-oriented classes, continuing-education anatomy classes, taming the mind classes, music and yoga classes, even a chocolate + yoga class, and many more. It was undoubtedly a yoga teacher’s dream, and also certainly a paradise for the consistent student/yoga lover.
I attended six different workshops during my stay. I kicked it off with Rodney Yee, who has always been a favorite of mine because of his extraordinarily soothing, caring voice. His ballet-toned body doesn’t hurt either in providing a little aesthetic inspiration. Him and his wife, Colleen, instructed a Hips and Twists session, where they guided us into a class full of hip openers and spinal twists. I was able to wake up in a large room full of excited people, practicing the wonderful art of yoga, with large chandeliers hanging above my head. It couldn’t of been a better Saturday morning.
I then went to The Art of Adjusting instructed by Matthew Sanford where I received some much needed information about how I can tactfully adjust my students in certain poses. One of the many takeaways: Never use your fingers, only the palm and ball of the hand, to avoid uncomfortable situations with students. I finished off the day with Shiva Rea in a Fire and Flow session. This was very dynamic and one of my favorite classes of the conference. All of the many students in the room were angled on their mats towards the center of the room, where live drummers stood setting rhythms throughout a majority of the class (along with a little Bob Marley thrown in there for good spirit). We were given maraca-like eggs to shake as we moved through the poses in the class.
The next day I attended Dharma Mittra’s class. The nearly 80-year old man is simply incredible, both in the way he can effortlessly float his body into every pose and how grounded he remains in the true spirit of yoga. He taught a fun and vigorous class while reminding us of the virtues of nonviolence, in terms of mind, body, energy, and those around us.
I then went to Judith Laster’s class about the Sacroiliac Joint, an area where many suffer from pain. She is simply an incredible anatomy teacher and opened my eyes to a lot of adjustments that can be made to certain poses. I finished off the conference with Natasha Rizopoulos who taught a forward bending-based class, showing me techniques I can use to help my students work into these poses.
I also saw Michael Pollan speak about the role of food and the food movement, moderated by Yoga
Journal editor-in-chief Kaitlin Quistgaard. He’s always very entertaining and informative of why we need to start voting with our fork.
Overall, the conference was an energizing and rewarding experience. I feel incredibly refreshed and inspired to work this new guidance into my own practice and to continue teaching to my students all that I have to give. If you are serious about yoga, it’s definitely a conference worth attending. Being surrounded by so many others enthused about the practice and all that it embodies is worth the experience alone.
*Also, don’t forget tomorrow’s the last day to enter the Healthy To Go giveaway!!