Yoga classes have always been a major part of the health and wellness offerings during the O+ festival. But any movement—including a little shake and shimmy at any of the music venues—can add to your sense of wellness.
“Yoga is holistic and meant to support us in all aspects of our lives. A quote from one of my teachers [Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati] sums it up perfectly: ‘Each of life’s activities is a Yoga when performed in a natural, harmonious way, attentively, to balance and unite the body, mind and spirit,’” says Shawn
Harrison, yoga teacher and owner of Mudita Yoga, a studio on Fair Street in Kingston.

Yoga is part of a holistic health system that teaches the interconnectedness of everything: The way we feel affects the way we breathe. The way we move with our bodies is similar to the way we are flexible with our mind and thoughts. The way we interact with each other reflects the way we feel about ourselves.

One use of the word “yoga” is to express the idea of “coming into the present.” The moment we bring attention to any part of our actions is the moment we engage in “conscious being.” That means not wondering what’s for dinner or who has emailed—just simply being. Sometimes in a yoga class, you’ll hear the invitation to “ground” or “be present in the moment.” This experience and practice of conscious living can have a huge impact on reducing stress and increasing your sense of wellness.

Yoga has been popularized as a physical practice through asanas or postures that encourage body strength and flexibility. A yoga class, like the intro to yoga class, will include some mix of asanas. A vinyasa yoga class involves breath—movement coordination; a vinyasa practice is more vigorous than a gentle or basic yoga class. Kundalini yoga classes mix rapid body movements with chanting and visualization exercises. Gong baths, which are complementary to kundalini yoga, are soothing and still. You simply lie on the ground and receive healing through sound. Bikram yoga classes are “hot yoga”—a series of active postures done in a heated space.

But you don’t have to stop there. Hooping and pilates, two other classes offered at ExplO+re, can be “yoga” if done as a meditation in motion. All the musical performances during the festival are opportunities to just “shake it out.” Have you seen the awesome list of bands? Just take your pick.

When you create conscious movement through the body, you are also creating space in the mind to come fully into the present. Doesn’t it feel good to not think so much?

Published on the 2013 O+ Festival blog