~ The following first appeared in Natural Awakenings of Southwest Virginia.
The first annual Floyd Yoga Jam is coming to the Blue Ridge Mountains of Southwest Virginia on Labor Day Weekend, 2012. The three day yoga and music festival, the first of its kind in the state, will be located along the waters of Greasy Creek in the meadows and wooded lands of Burnette Farm in Floyd County.
With a mission of creating a yoga and music inspired event that will contribute to sustainable social change in the local community and region, Yoga Jam founders, Shirleyann Burgess, Laura Polant, Suze Bailey and Meredith (Mud) Bailey, report that over twenty regionally and nationally known yoga instructors will be presenting demonstrations and classes in a variety of yoga styles. These include Hatha, Ashtanga Jiva, Bhkati, Jivamukti and Laughter Yoga, a form of yoga that has been gaining popularity and involves belly laughing and deep breathing.
Advanced certified yoga teachers on the festival roster include published writers and faculty members of Omega Institute and the Kripalu Center who have taught all over the globe. Dana Flynn, co-founder of the Laughing Lotus Yoga and Lotus Flow Yoga Centers in New York City and San Francisco is considered a “teacher’s teacher” and has appeared on the Today Show and Good Morning America. Several teachers are certified to teach Children’s Yoga, and plans are underway for the creation of youth activities at the festival.
“Practicing yoga releases the stress of the day and keeps one focused on the sensations within the body through breath, movement and mindful meditation,” says Burgess, a massage therapist, yoga teacher and owner of the Living Light Holistic Health Center in Floyd. Introductions to Vipasana, Passage Meditation and Walking Meditation are also on the schedule. There will be morning sunrise ceremonies with the ringing of Tibetan and crystal bowls for those who choose to attend.
But the festival is about more than yoga and meditation. “There will be opportunities to go to yoga classes and stretch your horizons, but it’s also for dancers and music lovers,” says Suze Bailey, festival co-founder and owner of Raggededge Gear, a home-based business that makes kevlar and carbon fiber wallets and bags. More than fifteen bands will be playing on two stages throughout the festival, including locally known bands, as well as national touring artists.
“Whether its yoga or dancing, we’ll get you moving,” says Burgess, who suggests that people check the Yoga Jam webpage for the latest music line-up. Along with dance music, there will also be devotional music and “kirtan,” which is an ancient Sanskrit word for call and response chanting.
Craft vendors and speakers on holistic health, herbology, building community and sustainability are part of the festival line-up. Dr. Amrita, a nationally recognized authority on preventative medicine, nutrition and stress reduction from Yogaville in Buckingham, Virginia, will be a featured speaker. Massage and other healing arts will be available. Food vendors will offer vegetarian and vegan fare. “Festival campers can bring whatever they want to cook at their campsite,” Burgess notes.
Hosting a socially and environmentally responsible event is important to the Yoga Jam founders. “We’re working with the local health department to develop ways to have as little impact as possible in respect to water, sewage and garbage,” says Suze Bailey.
Vendors will bring their own silverware and cups and festival-goers will be encouraged to do the same. There will be a series of outhouse units, for bio-degradable waste management, along with some porta-johns. “We don’t want to haul garbage out,” says Mud Bailey.
Bailey, who works with her mother at Raggededge Gear when she’s not doing festival planning, was an apprentice at Floydfest music festival last year. “I wanted to learn the workings behind the festival scene,” she said. She and her mother moved to Floyd two years ago and began taking yoga classes with Laura Polant, one of the yoga instructors at Living Light.
Polant, who has worked in the past as a biologist and forester, currently owns and operates Artemis GIS, (Geographical Information System), a forestry consulting company. She has been instrumental in developing the festival’s sustainable model. To offset the festival’s carbon footprint, $3 of the cost of each ticket will be donated to the Appalachian Carbon Partnership (ACP), making it a carbon neutral event. Approximately 90% of donations to ACP go to sequestering family forestland to protect it from development.
The 300-acre Burnett Farm provides plenty of room for camping and festival activities, such as a slack lining, a yogic balance practice, similar to tightrope walking, which will be performed and taught to interested festival-goers. There will also be performances of aerial yoga on silks, as well as naturalist-led woods walks on festival trails. The land and festival infrastructure are being provided by Mike Turman of Turman Lumber. “We couldn’t do this without him,” says Burgess.
Mud Bailey was searching for a yoga festival to attend when the idea of having one in Floyd came up. “I found one in Vermont, but it was out of my price range,” she says. Committed to making the festival accessible, there will be a limited quantity of early bird tickets offered at steep discounts. General ticket pricing for the August 31 – September 2nd weekend is $100 online and $125 at the gate. Day passes are $45. Walk-in camping is free and car camping is $25 per car for the weekend.
Incorporated as the Dancin Dakinis, the festival founders personify their collective name. “Dakini” is a yoga term that means a female embodiment of free spirit, passionate and driven, yet wild. With a love of movement and a passion for creating an event focused on well-being, the women are excited about the festival’s potential. “It’s all about flow and line-up. We’re doing what we love,” Burgess says. Colleen Redman
Post notes: Since this was written several months ago, please look for updated information at FloydYogaJam.com. You can also visit them on Facebook. Pictured above are Suze Bailey, Shirley Ann Burgess, and Mud Bailey.