Overlooking the Eastern Prom and Baxter Boulevard, the location was glowing with July sunlight yet kept comfortably cool from the ocean breeze. The field adjacent to the school was covered in thick, green grass with two large tents set up in the center. The small gated parking lot was being transformed into a busy village of popup tents; underneath a sea of vendors began unpacking. Inside the school, four large rooms had been redecorated with white silk, buddha statues and bright orange flowers, transforming them into sanctuaries and leaving them unrecognizable.
This was my second year attending the MYF as a volunteer and an attendee. I love volunteering because I become a part of the process and help make the festival happen. Plus, I get free Flatbread pizza, an awesome “Yoga ME” shirt and meet tons of new people in our community.
Saturday morning I arrived on site bright and early to help the vendors set up, which basically meant I got to sneak a peak at their great products and begin my mental shopping list. Vendors unloaded everything from T-shirts and necklaces to surf boards and hand painted yoga mats.
When class started, David sat on the stage and invited us to circle around as he introduced the concepts we would be exploring in class. My first thought: wow he is very handsome! Second thought: his voice is like maple syrup. I worried I might be falling in love. The class was challenging but with the gentle guidance of his voice he had us hypnotized into believing we were barely exerting effort.
At the end of the afternoon, a large crew of volunteers began to set up for Blacklight yoga with Halle Becker from Homegirl Yoga.
Halle hails from New York and everyone who met her this weekend would confirm that she is genuine, down to earth and absolutely hysterical. The day ended with over a hundred yogis enjoying a hip-hop dance performance by Casco Bay Movers followed by a funky flow complete with a live DJ.
After my first workshop, I had a break to finally do some shopping. I bought a peacock sweatshirt from Bloom and Be, a mason jar from EvolveME and got some Henna done by Mary Schmaling. It was great to see so many local vendors with so much talent! I bought lunch from the Small Axe food truck and ate with friends on the grass while we watched a handstand workshop under the big tent.
My last class of the weekend was with Gretchen Campos of Greener Postures Yoga and it was called Roots Reggae Flow. I love Gretchen as a teacher, she is simply amazing and it was no different this afternoon. Reggae was crooned in the background as she lead a gymnasium full of blissed out yogis through a thoughtful and sweet sequence.
As she said her final cues, I laid in savasana on my back with my eyes closed, too exhausted to think or move. We rolled onto our sides and came to sit facing forward. We pressed our palms together and in unison closed our practice with “Namaste”.
Two other woman in the room, Terri Patterson and Kelly Casey, listened as well, without knowing that this idea would grow and that they would become such an important part of making it happen. It is truly inspiring to watch how determined they are each year to bring their vision to reality and what a phenomenal success it has turned into.
The entire weekend was filled with so many memories, special moments and happy faces. It was like a giant family reunion for the entire yoga community. Different studios, different styles and so many different people with their own reasons for practicing yoga, all coming together to celebrate. It was an opportunity to expand our practice by trying something new and unfamiliar and it offered a chance to introduce us to the larger yoga community that exists beyond the walls of our regular studio.
We are so fortunate to have an event like this being held in our area. We are even more fortunate to have such an passionate and knowledgable yoga community in Maine. I highly recommend that anyone who practices or is interested in practicing yoga take advantage and come to the Maine YogaFest next summer. Until then, check out your local yoga studios for chances to expand or begin your yoga practice.
All photos are take by Courtney Elizabeth Media.