Relax, renew and restore with The Zen Project, presented by Eagle Yoga Fest
If you go …
What: The Zen Project, presented by Eagle Yoga Fest.
When: Friday, Sept. 18 through Sunday, Sept. 20.
Where: Brush Creek Pavilion, 909 Capitol St., Eagle.
Cost: Full weekend tickets are $125. One-day passes, and single-class passes, are also available.
More information: Visit http://www.eagleyogafest.com.
Zen Project schedule
Friday, Sept. 18
8:15 a.m. — Happy Trails: A Hiking & Meditation Field Trip with Gina Caputo
6 p.m. — Glow Flow Family Yoga (proceeds benefit UB.U)
8 p.m. — Honey Flow (Glow Yoga; 18 and older)
Saturday, Sept. 19
8 a.m. — Living Your Yoga (gentle physical practice, mediation, mantra and writing)
8 a.m. — Medicinal Aromatherapy and Raising Our Vibrational Frequency
8 a.m. — Soul Flow: Asana As Moving Meditation
8 a.m. — Thai Yoga Massage
10:30 a.m. — Dosha Flow: Flowing with the Five Elements
10:30 a.m. — Wholeness Yoga Project: Mantras to Balance Mind and Body
10:30 a.m. — Feeling Your Way Through Yin Yoga: a Physical Practice to Release and Transform Difficult Emotions (class is full)
12:45 p.m. — Community Acupuncture (class is full)
1 p.m. — Community Acupuncture (every 10 minutes through 2 p.m.)
1:30 p.m. — Transcendental Meditation Lecture with Scott McLean
3 p.m. — Settling the Mind for Self-Healing
3 p.m. — Anjali Restorative Yoga, Nourish and Renew (class is full)
3 p.m. — Sthira and Sukha (Steadiness and Ease)
5:15 p.m. — Free Presentation on Living Mindfully in The Present Moment
6:15 p.m. — The Zen Den (live DJ)
Sunday, Sept. 20
8 a.m. — Heart Centered
8 a.m. — Peaceful Warrior: Lunar Yoga, Pranayama and Yoga Nidra
8 a.m. — Touch Your Soul
10:30 a.m. — Yin/Vin: Harnessing the Power of Stillness to Maximize Your Inherent Mobility
10:30 a.m. — Roots Run Deep: Blissful Hip Openers
10:30 a.m. — Core Values, Clearing the Path, and Living Your New Story Lecture, Contemplation, Discussion and Meditation
Summer’s heat is falling away like golden autumn leaves, and with the new season, there’s softness to the air. The Zen Project, presented by Eagle Yoga Fest, is bringing specific attention to this tangible ease that is present in the weeks before the snow begins to fall. The three-day festival is in Eagle from Friday through Sunday, offering activities for personal restfulness and insight.
“Eagle YogaFest has been very successful for the past two years — it has gone really well, and we have really enjoyed doing it,” said Yvonne Schwartz, founder of Eagle YogaFest and The Zen Project, “but this year, we decided that Eagle YogaFest is going to present The Zen Project.”
The new festival is made to be smaller scale than Eagle YogaFest has been, and for The Zen Project, classes will be longer — two hours instead of 90 minutes.
The class offerings will all be in the style of restorative yoga, slow flow and meditation. There is one three-hour hike on Friday led by Boulder-based instructor Gina Caputo, which will include a meditation session.
Lunch breaks between morning and afternoon class times on both Saturday and Sunday will be from 12:30 to 3 p.m., so people can have free time to explore or relax.
“September is just a beautiful time to come to Eagle,” Schwartz said. “There’s mountain biking, hiking and fishing, so with The Zen Project, people can come and create a full weekend of mellowness or mindful movement.”
Schwartz said The Zen Project is meant to be for everyone and is a great way to experience a yoga festival without having to be overwhelmed by too many classes or too much movement.
“All of the classes are all levels,” she said, “and available to everybody.”
Off of yoga mats and meditation cushions, there will be a social gathering at Brush Creek Pavilion on Saturday, called The Zen Den. Festival participants can relax with a live DJ, along with food and drinks from Nicola’s Raw Menu, Green Elephant Juicery and Bonfire Brewing.
Large-scale yoga festivals tend to offer a variety of class style offerings, as even the more intimately styled Eagle YogaFest did for the past two years, but The Zen Project is a way for participants to go deeper into one discipline for the weekend.
Julia Clarke, a local yoga instructor teaching at the festival, said focusing on restoration and meditation will be balancing for the highly active lifestyle a lot of people have in the Vail Valley.
“The Zen Project takes the model of the modern yoga festival that has been popularized by major national events like Wanderlust and uses it to give the participants a really focused, rich, in-depth experience of what I call the ‘lunar arts’ of yoga,” Clarke said.
This “lunar” style provides more meditative, contemplative and restorative elements — angles of the practice that Clarke said she sees as often overpowered by the more fast-paced, sweat-focused interpretations found in a lot of modern yoga classes.
“Yoga was always meant to be a vehicle to bring balance to our lives, and constantly practicing at 100 mph can actually exacerbate our societal imbalance of too much action and not enough recovery or insight, whether that’s on the hill or at your desk,” she said.
Rather than focusing on a lot of fancy arm balances or vigorous power flow, The Zen Project will uniquely feature restorative yoga, yin yoga, Thai massage, deep relaxation, meditation and more.
“This festival is unique because someone who is new to yoga could have a life-changing experience,” Clarke said, “while someone with a regular practice really has the opportunity to dive deeper into their practice and uncover a whole new element to yoga.”
Clarke will teach Honey Flow glow yoga on Friday night; Dosha Flow: Flowing with the Five Elements class on Saturday; and a lunar flow class on Sunday, called Peaceful Warrior.
State of zen
Felix Lopez, spiritual leader and former Buddhist monk, will be leading a free presentation titled Living Mindfully in the Present Moment on Saturday. He will also be giving away and signing some copies of his new book, “Mindfulness: The Alchemy of Now.”
Lopez said he often works with yoga instructors and that many of his students have become yoga teachers. The session he is leading at The Zen Project is designed to help all students — even those who are already instructors — learn how to go deeper into their spiritual practice.
“I know many people in the global yoga community who practice yoga and have a beautiful asana practice, but they are not happy or peaceful in their own personal life,” he said. “Many do not have a balanced life, and then they come and try to teach the asanas and they are not manifesting what the real yoga practice is all about.”
Perhaps the festival is a reflection of an expansion of consciousness, simplicity and balance in this bustling valley. As Lopez suggests in his teachings, however, it’s never about “trying” to cultivate awareness or “trying” to meditate or perfect a yoga pose.
“We are really good at trying,” Lopez said, “but what happens when you just learn to let go? There is no way to get into a state of Zen by ‘trying.’”
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