Yoga in the mountains
October 15, 2013
Yogis and yoginis from far and wide are coming to Eagle for the very first Eagle Yoga Fest this weekend.
Starting at 3 p.m. Friday, with an expo at Brush Creek Park, the two-day event includes some free community events – such as a Yoga Pants Party with live music at Bonfire Brewing – and has something for everyone from never-evers to seasoned yoga instructors.
"Typically, if you want to invest in your practice, you have to travel to Denver," said Julia Clarke, a local yoga teacher and one of the many instructors who will be leading classes during the festival.
Clarke said Colorado is starting to become a center for yoga.
"Forbes took a poll a few years ago to identify the top 10 yoga cities in America, and Colorado wasn't on the list," she said. "As a community, it was our goal to get it on the map, and it's starting to happen."
Yvonne Schwartz, owner of Yoga Off Broadway in Eagle, is credited as the primary force behind the Eagle Yoga Fest, and by all accounts there are already signs of unusually early success for a first-year event.
"She was the mastermind and did most of the leg work," Clarke said. "It was a big undertaking, but she pulled it off."
Schwartz said she and her husband have attended yoga festivals all over the country and thought that there was enough of a yoga culture to warrant something here.
"October is warm and nothing is really going on here during that time," she said. "There is a large yoga community in this valley, so a festival seemed like a given for this area."
It was. Thanks in part to her connections, Schwartz discovered it wasn't too hard to convince some high-profile yogis and yoginis to come here.
"I studied with two of the instructors and asked others who I thought would be a good fit," she said. "I was surprised by how many were willing to help and work within our budget. These are some big names – the Yoga Slackers are internationally known."
Yoga for all
Prices for yoga festivals are usually $400 to $500 for the weekend, Schwartz said, but Eagle organizers looked for a more affordable event.
"We knocked it down to $175 for a weekend pass, $300 for a VIP pass and $95 for a day pass that includes four classes," said Schwartz.
People may also sign up for some classes individually for $35.
"Four yoga sessions in a day can be too much for some people," Schwartz said. "This also gives some people who have other stuff going on an opportunity to participate."
The $300 Soar Package includes a pass to all the events, starting with the Friday's cocktail reception party, priority seating at the "Happy" movie screening Friday, attendance to an Ayruvedic lecture and dinner at HP's Provisions in addition to four yoga classes Saturday and Sunday.
Some Eagle hotels and businesses are offering special deals in conjunction with the festival as well, including The AmericInn, Eagle Lodge and Suites, and Laughing Buddha Community Acupuncture. (See breakout box for more info.)
To register or find more information, such as class descriptions and a schedule of events, go to http://www.eagleyogafest.com. Most of the events take place at Eagle Town Park, Yoga Off Broadway Studio, Brush Creek Park and Pavilion, and Brush Creek Elementary School.
Girl PowHER and Town support
An important aspect about the festival is that it will benefit Girl PowHER. The program serves hundreds of girls in grades 6-12 throughout Eagle County.
"By practicing yoga, hiking, biking, volunteering and spending time with positive female role models, Girl PowHER is unleashing individual potential and creating a new culture of fit, confident, self-reliant young women," according to Yoga Fest organizers.
Schwartz said she's been involved with the program since it started in 2010.
"At Yoga Fest, there will be opportunities to donate money and things such as gently used yoga clothes and yoga mats," she said. "The girls need tops and pants that are generally very expensive."
Schwartz said the town of Eagle has been very supportive.
"The town contributed money from its marketing fund, is covering utilities and allowing us the use of venues such as Brush Creek Park," she said. "The town has already offered for us to do it again next year, but I'm like, 'I still have to focus on this first event!'"
The town's marketing fund is supported by a $2 per night lodging tax and the marketing and events advisory committee makes recommendations on how to use that money.
"We're excited for this to become an annual thing," said Eagle Marketing Coordinator Amy Cassidy. "We want events that will bring overnight guests and Schwartz is connected with great instructors who will likely bring their following here. Schwartz and her husband are very organized, and they have a lot of passion and vision. It's a pleasure to work with them."
Schwartz said the event is ready to go, rain or shine.
"The weather is supposed to be beautiful, but we're blessed to have indoor spaces for all the classes," she said.