Asana party: YogaFest brings together local yogis, musicians and activists

Sierra Hollister will teach a yoga workshop titled “Magical & Healing Full Moon Kundalini Flow” at the festival. Photo by Emily Nichols.

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 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.


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Emily Nichols
Emily Nichols is a writer and photographer for the Mountain Xpress. She enjoys writing about wellness and spirituality in WNC.

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.