Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference comes to Edwards |

Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference comes to Edwards

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily

EDWARDS, Colorado ” This weekend, yoga students will strike the “pose del perro” ” Spanish for the downward-facing dog position.

They’ll try the “saludo al sol,” or Sun Salutation pose.

And they’ll experience a yoga class taught entirely in Spanish.

“It’s important to have yoga in Spanish because we have a very large Spanish community here from Latin America,” said Avon resident Carlos Acosta, who tentatively plans to lead the class. “Maybe 70 percent of their population here doesn’t speak any English.”

Another class called “What does yoga look like?” will encourage students in wheelchairs to sample yoga.

Also on tap, students will incorporate yoga postures into an ancient art form. Minturn Middle School art teacher Wendy Satsky will share her knowledge of mandalas, a circular art form associated with Buddhism and Tibetan culture. To help students access “their own place of peace,” she’ll guide them through creating collages or simple drawings.

Those are just a few examples of the classes on schedule for the Rocky Mountain Yoga Conference. The new conference takes place this weekend at the Lodge and Spa at Cordillera. It showcases a wide range of yoga classes ” everything from an outdoor adventure to guided meditation.

“It’s an opportunity for people to recognize that yoga comes in so many forms, from the voice of so many different types of teachers,” event organizer Rachel “Shakti” Redding said.

Many of those teachers are locals. For instance, Eagle-Vail resident Jen Tracy Hooker will lead “Yamuna body rolling,” an exercise using inflatable balls.

“It’s sort of like deep tissue self-massage,” she said. “So you’re using your body’s own intelligence to think into the ball and the tight-restricted areas to help bring new circulation, new oxygen and help break up some of those (muscle) adhesions, restore healthy muscle function.”

Harnessing the valley’s yoga-teaching talent is one of the conference’s main goals. Redding, a part-time Vail resident and yoga therapist, argues the local yoga scene rivals anything she has experienced at expensive yoga conferences with famous instructors.

“I would come home from these huge conferences with these teachers that travel all over the world and then I would come home and go to a class at Dogma or the VAC [Vail Athletic Club] and I would have just as amazing an experience because the teachers are just so great,” she said. “And I thought: we can certainly support our own conference and represent ourselves in the world of yoga.”

Redding is on a mission to make yoga more accessible to people from all walks of life. In March, she helped launch Yoga World Reach, a nonprofit based in Boulder that seeks to bring yoga to “underserved populations.” The Rocky Mountain Yoga conference is a fundraiser for Yoga World Reach.

So far, the group has launched programs for students who can’t afford or lack access to traditional yoga classes.

One program helps Alaskan fishermen quit smoking. As an alternative to smoking, Yoga World Reach offered a yoga therapy designed to boost the respiratory system. In Boulder, the group offered yoga therapy to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

“We often get told, or we tend to think: Yoga ” that’s something for people who have leisure time,” Redding said. “That’s something for people who have money to actually pay for a yoga class. They’re so expensive.”

She hopes to change that perception.

Since Redding set out to bring yoga to the needy, she has received the occasional criticism from people who argue clothes and food are more important resources. Redding agrees clothes and food are basic needs, but she argues yoga is also vital.

“I started realizing this concept of inner power is really the most basic need of all and every single person has a right to tap into their own inner power,” she said.

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or

Support Local Journalism