If you don’t have a regular practice, yoga festivals can feel like one giant advanced inversion workshop, full of awesome bendy types who can airlift themselves into handstand and spot celeb instructors at a glance. But that’s not Yoga Rocks the Park.
Founded seven years ago in Denver, Colorado, by “conscious capitalist” Erik Vienneau, the summer yoga series takes place in cities across the country and it’s meant to be a laid-back experience, aimed at the yoga-curious rather than the aficionado.
“Yoga Rocks the Park is less of a commitment because it happens in your hometown, which is why it’s perfect for newcomers to yoga,” says vice president Traci Wallace. “People also associate going to the park with play, so it takes out the intimidation factor.”
Vinneau started the festival series after finishing his yoga teacher training in Denver and realizing the need for more access to outdoor yoga. He got 30 people together in a park and they met up every weekend to do yoga, Wallace explains. One member moved to Omaha and brought the concept with her, and the festival organically grew (and grew).
It’s since expanded to 20 different cities—from Boston to San Diego—and each festival takes place every Saturday and Sunday over the course of 6 to 12 weeks. For each, a team member trains a local event director, who then organizes local yoga teachers and musicians. Nationally recognized teachers and artists appear about 20 percent of the time.
Wallace, who lives in Encinitas, California, says the plan is to expand to 50 cities by 2016. About 10 percent of the attendance fee, which varies city to city (about $10 to $20 per class), supports a range of charities. And Camp YRP, a yoga class for kids that starts and ends just before and after the main event, thoughtfully takes place within view of moms and dads on their mats.
When asked what the greatest accomplishment of Yoga Rocks the Park has been to date, Wallace pauses. “I thought I knew a lot of people in my community before starting Yoga Rocks the Park here,” she explains. “I can now say I know 500 people by name from my own town. It’s an amazing feeling when you realize something that you do is working.” —Jamie McKillop
For more information. visit www.yogarocksthepark.com