-The following first appeared in The Floyd Press with a larger spread of photos on September 8, 2016 and online HERE.
The fifth annual Floyd Yoga Jam officially opened Friday with a large circle gathering woven together with a rainbow of colored yarn. Conceived by local artists and dancers, Lore Deighan, Leia Jones and Katie Wells, the opening ceremony was inspired by sacred geometry to create a visual metaphor of connection, Deighan said.
“When I’m holding the yarn and tug on it, it tugs someone else,” she said. She stated that the weaving, which spread out from a “seed of life” sculpture, would be set up at the festival’s Art Village as an interactive installation throughout the Labor Day festival weekend.
“Fabulous,” festival co-founder Laura Pollant answered when asked how this year’s festival was going. Referring to its incremental yearly growth, she said, “All year it’s been 20-25% ahead of where we were the year before. We a broke a little more than even last year. This year we’ll start to see some profits.”
Pollant was happy to report that she and fellow co-founder Shirleyann Burgess were able to get all their hardworking festival volunteers T-shirts this year. Burgess, who was often seen riding around the grounds on a golf cart and with a smile on her face, thinks of running the festival as a service practice. “It’s a service to give people what they need to be happy,” she said.
Set along the waters of Greasy Creek, in the meadows and woodland of Burnette Farm, the homegrown festival is a family-friendly playground for playing and nurturing wellbeing. It draws heavily on Floyd businesses and talents, showcasing local bands, yoga teachers and workshop leaders, while also featuring musicians and teachers from far and wide for mutual inspiration.
The weather was perfect over the three day festival, where days began with silent meditation and ended with light shows and dancing. Musical headliners included The Desert Dwellers, Mighty Joshua, The Kirtaniyas and MC Yogi, who also taught a yoga class called Ritual Mystical. Local featured performers included The Morgan Wade Band, The Fat Catz, Spoonfight, Big Mama Joy, The Mike Mitchell Band and The Wildmans.
Nationally recognized yoga teachers and local ones taught everything from Hatha to Grasshopper Yoga. Some of the class titles that drew students included Yoga for Dudes, Yoga Twogether, Spiritual Fly Master Class, Super Hero School and Come as You Are Yoga. Floyd yoga teacher Mary Brown’s class was called Hot, Hip and Holy Jivamutki. Keeping with the playful Yoga Jam spirit, Cyndi Lee – an early influential teacher who founded the OM yoga center in New York City – dubbed her class “The Dharma is the Underpants of Everything.”
Juggling, storytelling, weed walking, making art, farm to table food sampling, boutique shopping, slacklining at People’s Park and attending a variety of workshops rounded out festival offerings. At one point, organizers were called on to do some cattle wrangling when some neighborhood cows broke through a fence, which highlighted the natural country setting that attendees have come to love.
Alex from Charlottsville said he doesn’t do yoga. He came with his wife, who does, and because he likes the festival’s “positive vibe.” Deidre Harris from Macon, Georgia, came with two friends. It was their second year attending the festival. “Last year was all about the classes and learning as much as we could. This year was about community. We did more meditation, chilled and walked around meeting people,” she said.
Bob Kohl and Deborah Eikchelberger, first time Yogajammers, said they are “absolutely” coming back next year. The couple, who practice yoga (in Williamsburg, Virginia) and heard about the festival from an online mailing, came with a friend from Pennsylvania. Although the majority of festival-goers camp onsite, Kohl, Eikchelberger and their friend spent nights at Ambrosia Farm B&B. During the day they happily sampled a variety of yoga classes, got massages and experienced a harmonic sound immersion session. Kohl, who learned to play and bought a didgeridoo, an indigenous Australian wind instrument, said he appreciated the diversity of ages at the festival. “We thought we’d be “the” old timers,” his wife joked.
“I like everything about Yoga Jam,” said a regular attendee who drove all the way from Florida to be part of the festival’s growing tribe. “It’s a transformative experience every time,” she said Sunday evening after the closing ceremony, which involved releasing lighted lanterns with prayers. – Colleen Redman
A dancer with the Kirtaniyas strikes an elegant pose on the main stage Saturday night.
Ryan Turman lends a hand pouring beer and wine in the Boogie Down Dance Hall Tent, a fundraiser for Blue Ridge Chinese Medicine Center. The Turman family owns the Burnette Farm property where the festival is held and has contributed resources and infrastructure.
The Morgan Wade Band got a hometown reception on the main stage Sunday afternoon. Listen HERE.
Dancers come together during a Spirit Dance class with Katie Wells and Lobo Marino. See Katy’s illuminated closing dance performance HERE.
Yoga Jam co-founder, yoga teacher and massage therapist Shirleyann Burgess is pictured here with two of her three children. Suzanne Burgess and Zack Burgess are both body work practitioners and Suzanne teaches yoga.
A hair braiding session takes place in “A Little Bit Hippie” boutique, just one of many merchant vendor tents at the festival.
Floyd’s Buffalo Mountain Kombucha was one of about a dozen food and refreshment vendors. Others, from Floyd and beyond, included Thai This, Fat Bean, Red Rooster Coffee Roasters, Green Light Café, Till and Grille and Big Lick Ice Cream.
Springhouse Community high school students sold baked goods as a fundraiser at the Tea Shanty Speakeasy tent.
Loving reminder signs, like this one near the children’s sandbox, are spread throughout the festival grounds.
The release of biodegradable lighted lanterns and prayers served as the closing ceremony.
Photos 1- 10: 1. Dancer Katie Wells led the web weaving opening ceremony. Leia (8 ½ months pregnant) is the nucleus holding the seed of life and Lobo Marino musicians provided music. 2. Floyd Countians Jessica Talley-Haynes and Shannon DiPietro practice a peaceful warrior pose at “The Goddess and The Grasshopper” taught by Ariele Foster. 3. The Opening Circle Ceremony incorporated a large circle of Yoga Jam attendees and was done with the help of festival volunteers. 4. Yoga Jam co-founder Laura Polant (right) reacts to announcer Susan Saunders Mother Earth costume as fellow stage announcer Sally Walker (center) looks on. 5. Friday night reached a crescendo when the award winning band Mighty Joshua and his Zion # 5 family took to the stage in high reggae fashion. 6. Best selling author, Ayurvedic practicioner and yoga teacher, Katie Silcox drew an attentive group for her first class of the weekend, entitled “Moon Vinyasa: Mastering the Mind.” 7. Devotees spill out onto the grass from the Brahma Nirvana Tent. 8. A dance party ensued when The Housholders called yogajammers on stage. 9. A solo yogi strikes a prayerful pose. 10. A dancer with the Kirtaniyas strikes an elegant pose on the main stage Saturday night./Our World Tuesday