In a town that graduates over 750 yoga teacher trainees a year from several studios, it seems it was only a matter of time before a yoga festival took root locally. Asheville YogaFest organizer Mike Hiers believes that the festival is another way to put Asheville on the map as an epicenter for yoga culture and education. He also says that the event will be especially “Asheville-centric” with local food trucks, organizations, performers, sponsors, vendors and, of course, yoga teachers headlining the three-day event.
The Asheville YogaFest takes place Friday through Sunday, July 11, 12 and 13, at the Morris Hellenic Cultural Center in Montford, and yoga workshops and kirtans will take place 9 a.m.-11 p.m. each day. “The MHCC has been restored to it’s glory of the past when it was a community hub for the bucolic Montford neighborhood,” says Hiers. He pauses and adds with a grin: “Also, the open, hardwood floor plan provides space for a new hometown record — the most people practicing yoga together indoors ever in Asheville history.”
With yoga classes ranging from “Yoga for the Five Great Elements” to “Opposites Attract: An Ashtanga and Yin Practice” and “Full Body Smiles: Standing Poses and Backbends for All Levels,” the festival is designed to appeal to anyone with the slightest interest in yoga. Hiers says he intentionally selected teachers with diverse styles and limited the size of the festival in its first year to create an intimate experience where all workshops are suitable to the newest beginner and the seasoned yogi. For those already well-versed in the public yoga classes in Asheville, the festival will be an opportunity to take longer, theme-specific workshops.
Aside from the full schedule of asana workshops available, the festival will also bring in some big-name global musicians including Wah!, an artist that Yoga Journal has noted for her “sultry downtempo grooves, throbbing club beats and spoken-word rap passages.” A few other high-energy musicians with a global sound will round out the weekend, including Sean Johnson and the Wild Lotus Band, Jess Klein and local artists Luna Ray and Osel, a band comprised of yoga teachers Michael and Stephanie Johnson who will also be teaching at the festival. Hiers says that kirtan, or call-and-response chanting of sanskrit mantras will be a large part of the daily lineups, with mantra workshops led by Wah!, several collaborations between yoga teachers and musicians and community kirtans held every evening.
Yogis Beyond Coal, an activist group formed in collaboration with the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign, will also have a strong presence at the festival. The group will be providing festival-goers with information about coal and it’s impact on the Appalachian mountains and streams.
For tickets and more information, visit ashevilleyogafest.net. To be entered in a contest to win a free ticket to the festival, “like” the Asheville YogaFest 2014 Facebook page; A winner will be announced on Friday, July 4.