I had never been to a yoga conference until I moved to the US. I used to see them on Yoga Journal and other fancy yoga magazines and secretly wished I could attend, and more importantly teach, at these exciting Yoga conferences. A few years back, when Aham Yoga was barely 4 months old, I taught at the local NW Yoga Conference. However, I was disheartened by how I was treated as a yoga presenter, and the excitement I once felt faded away. Moreover, I got distracted growing Aham Yoga to be a full-fledged yoga studio. Now that the yoga studio is up and running well, I am rekindling my dream of wanting to travel to teach Yoga. These dreams combined with my efforts recently brought me to the Minneapolis Yoga Conference.
The Minneapolis Yoga Conference has been running for four consecutive years. This year, the conference was bought over by Tula Software, who we use and love, and I knew I had to apply! I have been keen to step out of the Redmond/Seattle Yoga community and challenge myself as a Yoga teacher and Yoga student – this was the perfect opportunity.
What happens at a Yoga Conference?
Basically, it is a weekend full of learning. Every conference has a line-up of presenters who bring various topics to the conference. To teach at a conference, one needs to offer something unique and hard to find elsewhere. Students sign up for the whole weekend and attend workshop after workshop. Conferences also have a fun marketplace with eco-friendly products and some entertainment. Minneapolis Yoga Conference also had a unique Friday intensive that ran for 8 hours helping participants learn a topic more in-depth. To me, this is a great concept, and I hope more yoga conferences take this up.
I was selected to teach a Friday 8 hour intensive on the topic “Classical Yoga Vs Modern Yoga“. This topic has a special place in my heart. Ever since I moved to the US a little over 4 years ago, I had struggled with what had become of Yoga in the West. That led me on a journey to discover Yoga’s past, how it originated, what caused it to change through time, and most importantly what is modern yoga? And how do we fit into the big picture as modern yogis? I was excited to present to new, unfamiliar faces.
The class went really well. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm and welcoming the people here were. The participants were knowledgeable, respectful, warm, friendly and braved an 8-hour class on Classical Yoga Vs Modern Yoga. As a teacher and presenter, I had a fantastic time!
I notice that there is a need for people in the modern Yoga world to know and understand the roots of where this ancient practice came from – what the original face or form of Yoga was, and how we have moved away from it in the past 50 to 60 years since the export of Yoga from India. Yoga has changed more in the past 50 years than it has changed in the past 5000 years, so as modern yoga teachers, students, and yoga studio business owners, we need to pause and reflect where we are and in which direction we are heading. Sometimes, I worry that if we do not preserve what is left of classical Yoga, it will be gone forever. And that would be a tremendous loss to humanity.
However, for the sake of not sounding so grim – I had a wonderful weekend at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. As I sat in the 21st floor of my hotel room. My heart was full of hope that people want to know and understand more about Yoga – it is just that they do not have the resource to get this knowledge. I hope to be that source for people now and in the years to come. Here is a glimpse of my weekend at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference.
I forgot to take a group class picture on Friday, but this is what I have. They did get a professional photographer to shoot the event. I will add those pictures in when I get them.
Emily, my wonderful volunteer for our Classical Yoga vs Modern Yoga intensive, who turned out to be my newest friend at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference. It felt as though we knew each other for a long time, and was not at all like we had just met! Thank you, Emily, for making me feel so warm and welcomed.
I never got to take a picture with Nikkole, Jade Yoga‘s new fantastic sales rep. We had so much fun hanging out at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference, and I know our paths will cross again soon. She gifted me Jade’s newest Yoga mat, called Elite S. So excited to try it out for the first time today! The reason I love Jade Yoga is because they plant trees for every mat you buy, provide clean drinking water, and many other green initiatives. I do not know any other yoga related brand that gives back as much as they do. On an unrelated note, I now own 5 Jade Yoga mats! I’m set!
Did I mention I was up on the 21st floor? The view of downtown Minneapolis was beautiful. I got to catch the sunset every night!
Though I could not attend as many sessions as I wanted, I chose to unwind and slow down the pace a little more than usual. I did attend a wonderful class on Yoga Nidra. A lot of it was familiar to me, but I also got to learn a lot more! We have a Yoga Nidra Workshop coming up in May if you are interested in learning more.
I do have family in Minneapolis, and got to spend a day with them. They live a block away from Lake Calhoun. Though Minneapolis was not as cold as people said it would be, it was the first time I saw a fully frozen lake!
My flight out of Minneapolis was delayed due to stormy weather, and I missed teaching my Beginners Yoga Class, but it is good to be back home! I travel again next weekend for the Sedona Yoga Festival. Right now, my heart is full with warmth and love from Minneapolis – what a wonderful city and people. I would go back there again in the years to come.
I realize what matters the most is not to strip yoga of its true essence – to not reduce it to a mere workout and poses. But to do everything in my power to celebrate it’s richness and to bring forth the ancient, rich heritage to the forefront so that modern yoga practitioners can understand and reap the benefits of being richly absorbed in classical yoga, and feel a true connection to something eternal. There is a vast need for people in the western world to understand its heritage before it gets watered down further. The participants at the Minneapolis Yoga Conference have shown me that people want to know and understand. They seek the knowledge – it’s the teachers claiming to teach yoga who have to step up!
I believe by being a yoga teacher and by holding myself to a much higher standard of learning and sharing, I will get a step closer to fulfilling my dharma towards propagating yoga.