Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Festival yoga!

It used to be that music-loving yogis heading off to summer festivals would get up early (well, before 9.30am) and hunt for a bit of grass without tent pegs and the remains of last night's revelry, lay out their mat and practice a few sun salutations trying not to attract unwanted attention. Sometimes other festival goers would comment or exchange conspiratorial glances, some might even join in. Later as the sun went down, the search for a sacred patch of clear grass would be more challenging than an inverted locust pose.

Now, everything's changed. Yoga is as essential as the bands and hair braids at some festivals — or at least it truly adds to the experience. No longer do yogis have to furtively hunt for a little piece of peace, a whole tent has been set aside and lovingly decorated in readiness. Yoga classes are as much an attraction as the other indie tents drawing intrigued newcomers along, ready to go with the (vinyasa) flow and loosen up in the festival spirit.... well at some festivals it has!

I will be teaching free yoga for mums (parents) and babies at Somersault Festival in North Devon (23rd-27th July) just to prove that tots and festivals are a perfect match — and it's never too soon to try your first cat or at least ananda balasana (happy baby)! And on the Sunday I'll be helping teens find their inner warrior or uncover a chill-out zone of their own. There are plenty of other classes on offer, too. Of course you will need a ticket to the festival to access the classes, but look at it as a yoga retreat under canvas with music, gourmet campsite food and all the rest of the festival fun thrown in!

Some tips for festival yoga newbies.

Bring some suitable clothes — loose shorts, leggings and pyjama pants are ace... jeans and denim shorts aren't, because of the restricting fabric and the deep seams and zips will give you welts when you lie or sit on them. Ouch!

Try not to look around and compare yourself with people who effortlessly balance on one arm or take postures to the next stage — they have doubtless been practicing for years! Besides the whole point of yoga is to focus your attention within... Admittedly that can be hard when there is a sound system and comings and goings around the tent, plus that excited buzz of festivals, so then you get a chance to practice Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses) so you take the focus within and concentrate on your breath and your body.

But don't switch off! You'll need to listen clearly to your teacher's instructions ... but more importantly, listen to your own body first and if a posture doesn't feel good, don't do it, or ask for advice on your alignment. You don't want your first taster of yoga to be your last, now do you?

Tell your instructor if you have injuries – and if you are a beginner. They can modify postures for you to keep you safe and enjoying the experience.

Introduce your kids to classes — it might turn out to be their best festival experience — and yours!

If you have tickets for Somersault — follow this link!

And of course, you could always get a tent big enough to do some yoga inside ;)