PINETOP-LAKESIDE — Most everyone knows that June 21 is the Summer Solstice, but not everybody knows that it is also International Yoga day.
In 2015 the United Nations unanimously declared June 21 as Yoga day to globally celebrate yoga which promotes harmony, health and peace. This year the White Mountains will celebrate both of these events with the first White Mountain Yoga Festival June 21 and 22.
Kimberly and Steve Washburn and Cheryl Cavanaugh came up with the idea after attending a Yoga festival in Telluride, Colo. last year, according to Lauren Barnert-Hosie, owner of Open Spaces Yoga Center in Lakeside.
They told each other, ‘We can do this in the White Mountains,’ Barnert-Hosie said. Kimberly and Mo Lord began to organize the event with the help of Whitney Giokaris, Cheryl and Lauren, and the teachers from Yoga Caliente and Open Spaces Yoga Center.
Ken Hosie added his expertise in logistics and created the on-line sign-up with Eventbrite, a U.S-based event management and ticketing website, allowing information about the event to extend outside the White Mountain area.
“There are 16 yoga teachers on the Mountain,” said Lauren. “In 2001 and 2003 there was Kim (Kimberly Johnson Washburn), Darla (Austerman) and I, and since then there has been an influx of teachers.”
Kim, Darla and Lauren created Open Spaces Yoga in Wagon Wheel in 2001 and then moved it to its larger current location in the Ponderosa Plaza in 2003. Since that time, Darla has moved away and Kim has opened Yoga Caliente at The Gym in Pinetop and Show Low, though she still practices at Open Spaces. There is also Ruff Mountain Yoga, owned by Poppi Ruff, in Pinetop.
When most people hear the word yoga they might think of someone sitting cross-legged and meditating or chanting and arranging their bodies in one of a dozen postures which they have heard about or seen on TV. Yoga is not a one-size-fits-all, as will be demonstrated at the Yoga Festival. There are 14 different styles of yoga and there is something for everybody from the very young to seniors.
“This is about learning and having a good time,” Lauren said. “It’s about bringing community together. All of the teachers are making up fun and unique classes.”
“We started out with the idea of two days; then decided on one and a half. It will begin Friday afternoon as a celebration and we are going to keep everything at In Bloom in Pinetop. Ginger (Somers) has laid a yoga sod of 4,000 square feet and is bringing in a tent and building a stage platform.”
Registration will begin at In Bloom at 1 p.m. Friday followed by demonstrations and vendor shopping at 3 p.m. There will be a meet and greet and a Reggae Flow Yoga participatory event. At 6 p.m., the Summer Solstice, Kirtan and Maral will begin followed by the big event, “108 Sun Salutation Celebration.” The remainder of the evening will be dancing under the stars with Planting Seedz, a local award-winning Reggae band.
On Saturday, the classes will be held at one of three locations, In Bloom Nursery (IBN), Yoga Caliente (YC) or Open Spaces Yoga Center (OSYC). Classes run from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The Saturday classes are pick and choose and are for all different levels. Prices vary. The 15 classes also have unique names such as Ecstatic Chants; Country Flo with Mo; Heart Opening, Go With The Flow; Hanging Loose On The Ropes; Building Bridges; Prana Danda; Find Your Zen “With Yin, and more.
“Maral Salerno, who taught here briefly for six or eight months,” said Lauren, “lived in the jungle and is highly trained in functional nutrition and life counseling. She is doing a class on gut health and then weight management.
There will be two teachers assisting every teacher,” emphasized Lauren. “I may have three in the ropes room. They will be properly trained by me. We want everyone to be safe. People will be taken care of.”
The final event on Saturday is the Trance Dance which it ancient drumming and dancing,” explained Lauren. “Everybody can do it. One of my students used to be a minister in Mesa and she is going to go.”
Yoga means union.
“One of the things that has emerged out of this is the notion that we are in three communities, and we are not competitive,” explained Lauren. “Yoga Caliente at The Gym does hot yoga which brings in people who are more athletic and younger. Poppi at Ruff Mountain has a very special certification in Bikrum and works with kids. Open Spaces specializes in Iyengar Yoga and individual therapy along with meditation and other forms of yoga. We all work together. It is the very essence of yoga.”
Though Yoga is an ancient practice dating back some 5,000 years, today, regardless of age, many seek its benefits to increase strength, flexibility, and for stress relief. Henry David Thoreau, Walt Whitman and Ralph Waldo Emerson are said to have been early users of yoga. And, if you were around in the 70s, you may recall that the Beatles learned to meditate with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who founded Transcendental Meditation.
More information on the first White Mountain Yoga Festival, which is for ages 15 and up, can be found at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/white-mountain-yoga-festival-tickets-60497312089.