Banff Yoga Festival Experience

Friday, June 7, 2019

If you follow me on Instagram you know that couple of weeks back, I had the opportunity to experience Banff Yoga Festival. Going on a yoga retreat is a great way to start or deepen your yoga practice; but this festival was more than just yoga for me. Being away from the distractions of my daily life, surrounded by like-minded people in a serene and beautiful Banff made it much easier to connect, to be present and find my zen on a yoga mat.

The theme of the fourth Banff Yoga Festival was Self love and they came up with the perfect ingredients to pull of this wellness retreat centered abound self love, kindness and mindfulness. Start with a great location, add a bunch of yoga gurus, few experts, delicious farm-to-table food, and some of the best yoga and wellness products on the market and you have yourself everything you need to find your bliss.

While I found all session amazing, and many teachers I will def look up again to hit their class up, there was few I connected to on a new level. 
Tara Koenig; Yoga Instructor; Canmore, Alberta
How did you get started?
I first tried acro yoga when my mum got me a acro yoga & surf retreat in Tofino. This was right before my first teacher training and it was the best experience working for the first time with the same people for a few days so we could all progress and learn together.  Coming from a gymnastics background, acro yoga came very naturally to me.

What are three benefits of acro yoga?
In acro yoga you practice trust, communication and re-learn how to play without expectations. Trust stems from open communication, talking about what isn’t working and what is working and ways we can try to make it easier for everyone involved. As an acro yoga teacher I always want to see students explore new poses with at least one spotter, who becomes and extra set of eyes and ears, and is responsible for keeping everyone in the group safe. In a way, they are there to enhance and elevate your practice to new levels. With this combination of trust, communication and connection, we put into practice the power of nonverbal communication, which we can then integrate into the rest of our lives.

For me, the practice of acro yoga is play time. It’s just fun. It’s a time when two or more people come together to explore what is possible. Acro yoga combines the elements of a yogic practice and the foundations of acrobatics to give you a unique practice that is truly unlike anything else. The beauty of a group practice is that it helps to remove the ego, and instead comes from a place of we are, versus I am. Acro is a playful way to gain strength and flexibility while improving communication skills and building trust in yourself and others. Practicing Acro Yoga is a reminder to take things lightly, that life isn’t to be taken too seriously.

The best way to get started as a student/ what should first timers expect in your acro class?
I would advise people to stay off youtube and go to an actual class!  This practice has a learning curve that’s best to explore in a community setting.   There are many beginner workshops or series being offered, and festivals are a great place to try it out as you get to meet the people you’ve been seeing in other classes.

What is my favourite thing about teaching?
The energy that I get from students.  This practice is so fun & energetic I can’t help but feel all giddy and proud as a teacher.  I am so grateful to be a part of the learning process for so many students.  I see a lot of people coming in timid and shy with the notion that they aren’t strong enough or small enough to be a part of this practice.  However, through learning the fundamentals everyone can overcome their fears and preconceived notion’s about themselves and have those moments of pure joy of achieving something they didn’t think was possible.In your first acro class expect to push through your boundaries.  

In my classes I like to start with a warm up game, to get into the play aspect & get used to touch.  Then we calibrate – no matter your level calibration is important every time you practice.   This includes basic partner work to see how your balance, communication and where the group is that day.  Then expect to learn some poses and the transitions between poses.   A good teacher will emphasize the spotting so that everyone feels safe, ensuring you have a great experience! With Acro Yoga, one can enjoy shared moments of connection and joy create some amazing memories (and epic Instagram photos)
How did you get started?
 I was first introduced to yoga as part of land training for synchronized swimming. I had an on and off relationship with it for years. When I started going to school for Holistic Nutrition I fell in love with it all over again because of the psychological effects and how it helped me cope with stress. Reiki was shortly after that when I was looking for a deeper connecting and understanding to my body and how thoughts, events, people, affected me. 

What is my favourite thing about teaching?
I LOVE teaching. I always have loved being up in front of a group and sharing knowledge. 
The top 3 benefits that I feel from Reiki is an increase in intuition or body awareness. It also creates time and space for you to switch into Parasympathetic Nervous System-Rest & Digest. It allows you to strengthen the communication and understanding between the physical body & mind. 

The best way to get started as a student/ what should first timers expect in your acro class?
What you can expect from this offering of Reiki + Restore is a really relaxing experience with no pressure or expectation. You simply come as you are and let go. No knowledge or experience with yoga or reiki is required. We offer these workshops every other month at Junction 9 Yoga & Pilates in Calgary. 

What does self love mean to you?
Self love means being my own best friend and also my own parent. It's not always the easy things like a bubble bath or getting my nails done. Sometimes it's about keeping my promises like a new workout regime, daily meditation or eating more vegetables. The most important part for me about self love is compassion. Compassion towards others and towards myself. 

Kate Rhodes; Photographer/Reiki master
How did you get started?
I experienced a breakdown/spiritual awakening (Brene Brown style) a few years ago, and that was when I met my Reiki Master by chance at Market Collective in Calgary. I felt a strong pull to learn reiki and knew that she was the one to teach me! I was following my heart for sure.

What are 3 benefits of doing reiki?
Stress relief. Getting back to oneself. Greater awareness.

What does self love mean to you?
Acceptance of myself fully as I am in this moment. No judgement.

How do you practice self love?