Monday, May 16, 2011

Namaste Monday: 2011 Yoga Journal Conference

The atmosphere in my last session was so full of life.  This is the only photo I managed to capture all day, and I think it sums everything up perfectly
So for this week's Namaste Monday, I thought I'd share my experience from Saturday.
On Saturday I went to the 2011 Yoga Journal Conference held at the Hilton in NYC.
I chose to sign up for the day pass instead of the weekend because I went with a few of the teachers and the owner of the studio I work at.

Let me say this: It was an incredible experience and I would to it again in a heartbeat!  In fact, I can't wait to come home from college next year to do participate again!

I woke up at 5 AM to head into the city to make it in time for the 8 AM class, the first of the day.  The day was split in three two-hour sessions.  I pre-registered for the classes I wanted to participate in, and once I signed in, I received my badge and goodie bag.
I LOVED the goodie bag they gave us.  It was a reusable tote filled with Luna Bars, Coconut Milk, an awesome Gaiam metal water bottle, and a bunch of coupons/ body product samples.  After I had time to sort through my loot, I headed into my first class.

Session One: Core Strength Vinyasa Yoga: Yoga for Athletes with Sadie Nardini
Let me say this: this girl is INCREDIBLE.  I had actually never heard of her and had signed up for the class mainly because I'm an Athlete and wanted to see her view of yoga for athletes.  But she has this completely relaxed teaching style and she's actually hilarious.  She talked about how doing yoga AFTER we run, swim, bike, or do any physical activity is much more important then BEFORE.  She said that we gain 75% more muscle if we stretch after a workout then if we don't.  How amazing is that?  She showed us how to change different postures that we already do to make them more effective for an athlete.  Simple things, such as grabbing the straight leg in Pigeon or changing how we do boat pose can affect how we use our strength.  What I love was her new way to go through the vinyasa flow.  Instead of going from Down Dog to plank to Cobra to Down Dog again in such a stiff way, she told us to be like a wave and roll our body.  I loved that idea because it helps lengthen us instead of shortening our muscles. She said to use the "fire" in our stomach to use our core in EVERYTHING.  But, and this is what I loved, she said that we often suck our stomachs in when teachers tell us to "use our core".  Obviously, it's terrible to do that with yoga because it constricts our breathing.  So she said to focus on the breathing flowing up through our body in the inhale, and down in the exhale.  She said we need to relax our stomach instead of tightening them.  Such a good idea!  I really loved how she talked about how we control our own destinies, and if we're not happy with something we have the power to change it.  I'll do a post one day about yoga for athletes, but if you ever get an opportunity to take a workshop with Sadie, I highly suggest it.  

After Session One, we had about thirty minutes to head to Session Two.

Session Two: Yoga Sweat with Beth Shaw
I chose this class because of the title and description.  I love hot yoga, so I was interested in participating in a heated class.  But more importantly, I wanted to learn about the good/ bad of hot yoga, who should not be doing hot yoga, and modifications of special needs populations, all of which the description said we'd learned.  And we learned none of that.  I was actually very disappointed with this class.  Don't get me wrong, it was a great workout (we did a lot of core postures) but the class wasn't heated and it felt a lot like a pilates class.  I guess I should have known, considering Beth Shaw is the one who started YogaFit for fitness instructors, but the whole thing wasn't what I was looking for.  Although she gave us a lovely Savasana at the end!  Which was just what I needed.

After Session Two, I was already in need of a nap.  That was four hours of yoga right there!  I still had three hours until my last class though.  I think there shouldn't have been three hours in between the sessions since it was a little too much time, but I found plenty to do.  I could have taken advantage of the guest speakers that were doing free lectures, which I sort of wish I had done, but I enjoyed my free time. I spent the first part of it in the Yoga Marketplace.  It was a huge area where different yoga stores set up shops and sold their products at discounted prices.  They had everything from big names like Gaiam and Lululemon to smaller specialty shops with jewelry.
I picked up cute yoga pants from Wisdom and Co. (the pants are awesome because they spell Namaste in yoga characters on the band), a lotus and tree of life necklace from Satya Jewelry (I've been looking for one for forever and this was perfect!), a striped shirt from Hard Tail, and some awesome yoga cookie cutters from The Kitchen Yogi (how cute are they?)!  The best part was everything was marked down for the event.  I think the necklace I go was usually $120 and I got it for like $40!

Following our shopping spree, we went for a quick lunch at a little salad joint, then headed to our third class.  

Session Three: Fire and Flow: Agni Namaskar with Shiva Rea 
I was so happy and surprised to get into a class with Shiva Rea.  She is an extraordinary and extremely popular yoga teacher.  I could see why- she was amazing.  We started the entire session off with maracas and drums and danced!  It was a little surprising but great all in all.  Then she lead us through a vigorous vinyasa series complete with 108 pushups!  I wished her session was first- I was exhausted from doing the two previous sessions so I didn't enjoy the class as much as I could have.  But it was great!  She talked about how it's mind over matter and there is a fire in all of us that controls what we do.  She discussed that the fire within us can bring changes.  Before every set of pushups (we did sets of 12), she would say something encouraging like "You are BEAUTIFUL" or "You are ENLIGHTENED".  It was very encouraging and she seemed so sweet and down to earth.  And energetic!  

All in all, the conference was amazing and if you live in an area where they offer one, you should go!  I loved being able to take classes with such highly respected teachers!  It was certainly and honor and such a fun day!  I am totally feeling the affects of 6 hours of yoga though!  I'm still sore!
But it did make me realize how much I love the role yoga plays in my life.  It was also so inspiring to see people who make yoga there life.

Have you ever been to a Yoga Journal Conference?  Have you ever had the chance to work with an amazing teacher?  xo


  1. You're so lucky you got to go to this! I was just in California with Tim Miller for an Ashtanga workshop, it was awesome. Sounds like you had fun! Thanks for sharing. :)

  2. That sounds fabulous! The yoga classes you took sound awesome, and those teachers sound especially cool. I'm glad you had an epic time, I bet you can't wait for the next conference! :)

  3. Ohmygosh--what an experience! It looks and sounds WONDERFUL. How lucky!


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