2016-10-04 Vancouver Yoga Expo
Vancity yogis rejoice! The Vancouver Yoga Expo finally graced us with its inaugural event here in our bustling city this past weekend, Oct. 1-2, 2016. I was fortunate enough to win a pair of tickets for the entire weekend through a Facebook contest (thanks again Laura @ Potentialize Me Yoga) and went with fellow yoga instructor & friend Martina Michalova.
Sat. Oct. 1 (day one) - The Yoga Expo started at 10am, but we arrived closer to 1pm as Martina was teaching in the morning. Once we got to the Vancouver Convention Center at Canada Place, we first checked out the Marketplace with all the vendors to see what goodies were in store. As one could expect, there were plenty of yogi-inspired active & streetwear clothes, health-conscious snacks and beverages, and jewellery, including mala beads and mini buddha altar statues for use in meditation.
Some more interesting items included prize draws for a portable infrared sauna chair and a local yoga retreat, aerial yoga ropes and yoga wheels (the latter of which I ended up purchasing for myself = play time!) For those of you cocking a brow, thinking "what the deuce is a yoga wheel?" It's a newer tool that can be used to delve deeper into stretching poses and build flexibility (such as the splits or backbends), as well as a support structure to prop you up in poses that require more strength & coordination (such as forearm stand or balancing atop the wheel for more of a challenge!)
Class 1: Power Hour with Caron Christison - Since the Yin class was full, we opted to go for Power Yoga (totally different, but what the heck!) This was a fun one, similar to a class that I would style. The instructor was from Georgia and played groovy indie music that made for a cool energy. The boat pose crunches & leg lifts were killer on the core though.. needless to say, I know where I need some work!
Class 2: Lotus Wrap Restorative with Kara Schwandt - A local North Vancouverite, Kara created these supportive wraps that coccoon around your body in various ways to hold you in your chosen position, thereby allowing you to fully release in the restorative pose and not have to work to hold yourself up in anyway. I really enjoyed using this tool in the class, it was very supportive and could be used in a variety of postures! I had a nice sense of relaxation at the end of the practice.
Class 3: Chan Meditation & Qi (Energy Flow) with Shana Han - We came in to this class with open minds and no expectations. Having said that, one can usually infer how this type of class might go.. Welllll, let's just say this class isn't what we had expected it to be, even with no expectations. The teacher was a spunky Korean woman, now based out of California, who shared with us a bit of her personal story and of how she came to be where she is today. After studying bio-engineering (if memory serves me correctly) and feeling pressured by her family to lead a "traditional" life with a good education and well-paying job, she realized that wasn't where her heart was and became depressed. She turned to yoga and meditation, studying at a Buddhist temple. Essentially what the class became was having to sit in Lotus (the far more intense version of seated criss-cross apple sauce legs) for close to an hour, or at least that's what the instructor was trying to bribe us to do ("I'll give you a free mini bottle of essential oil & a book on Buddhist meditation if you stay there the whole 50 minutes!") ..Okay. I'd rather keep my knees and ankles intact, thanks kindly.
Basically what she was trying to impart was that Lotus was the foundational pose to allow your chi, or life force/energy (also known as prana), to flow through your body. Any pain felt was blocked chi, and that you would have to work towards mastering mind over matter and eventually the pain would go away (due to numbness, for real), before normal feeling would be restored, resulting in your chi pushing through the blockage and finding its flow throughout the body again. I can appreciate the sentiment of challenging oneself and cultivating mental tenacity, but not in an unsafe manner where most people could hardly stay seated in an easy, criss-cross legged seated posture for longer than 5 minutes, much less Lotus. I certainly wouldn't want to be held responsible for anyone's dislocated knees.
Sun. Oct. 2 (day two) - Martina was teaching again in the morning, so I decided to head down to the Expo a bit earlier by myself and meet up with her once she got there. I cruised through the Marketplace once again to peruse over the booths. It wasn't all that huge to begin with, but surely I missed some things from the day before so I let my eyes wander and feast on all the novelties around me.
Class 1: Drishti Beats with Lori & Jeremy Lowell - I took this class solo before Martina joined up, jumping in with the group that was practicing in front of the main stage in the Marketplace. This was a super fun experience! The practice was being led by the husband & wife duo on stage, and they were accompanied by a saxophonist from Portugal, a DJ from Colorado, and rapper/beatboxer also from Colorado, and a vocalist from California. They blended together to form a super groovy, instrumental medley with intermittent vocals, while leading the flow with the assistance of headset mics. I highly recommend taking this energetic class if you want something completely different than a silent studio practice. I would totally take it again! They are based out of Virginia, so keep an eye on their tour dates.
Class 2: Yin It Up with Cheryl Uphill - Fortunately Martina was able to meet up with me in time for us to save a spot in this class, as it quickly filled up yesterday and we weren't able to make it. Another Vancouver local, Cheryl guided us through about 5 postures, allowing the body to surrender in the postures while taking longer holds and making for a very chill class. The class filled up again this day, and it was clear why - pretty sure the shirts that say "I'm just here for the Savasana" are made primarily for Yinsters (aka, Yin Gangsters) as Cheryl affectionately called us. And Savasana we did!
Class 3: Yoga with doTERRA Essential Oils with Shannon Kaeding - The class was led by Mishka Ma, accompanied by Shannon coming around and placing various essential oils on different parts of our bodies as we moved throughout the practice. Simply put: I loved it! Some of the oils used were Wild Orange, Peppermint, Lavender, Melaleuca, and Deep Blue (the last of which was gloriously massaged onto the backs of our necks as we lay in Savasana, I NEED to get my hands on some more of that goodgood!)
To summarize, it was a fun-filled weekend of all things yoga. It was wonderful to be able to participate in so many classes with teachers of all individual styles. From the perspective of an instructor, it can be challenging to maintain your own personal practice at times - when I'm at the studio, I teach yoga. I don't practice yoga. To avoid teacher burnout, it's imperative that we maintain a personal practice to keep inspired, refreshed and connected to the thing we love. As much as we enjoy giving and sharing the knowledge of yoga with our students, it's equally as important that we receive and continue to be students ourselves.
Do you have any other questions regarding the first ever Vancouver Yoga Expo? I'd love to hear them and share my insights!
Kinga Gorski, 200-YTT