Words can’t describe the transformative, rejuvenating experience I had over those four days in Sedona, Arizona. But I’ll try.
The festival was dubbed a conscious evolution conference and that it was. I went into the festival expecting to do a lot of yoga and explore Arizona for the first time. What I got out of it was a mind reset and a reminder that all is perfectly right in the world, I have the strength and capability to take on anything that comes my way. I was introduced to meditation and manifestation and met so many wonderful people, felt the energy of the Sedona vortexes and left with a shining light of happiness from within.
If you ever get the chance to attend a yoga festival or retreat…DO IT!
The solo trip began early Thursday morning on the 7 hour drive to Sedona with a quick stop off in Phoenix and Tempe for a mini tourist run through. (p.s. Tempe has A LOT of sports bars!)
Once I got to the festival I immediately put on yoga clothes (an didn't wear normal clothes the rest of the trip) and registered.
Then quickly ran to the nearest eatery – Milly’s Café – which has a lot of great vegetarian options. I ordered a huge plate of vegetarian nachos and Corona and unwound from the windy mountain-road drive.
My first thoughts about Sedona were that the place is beautiful! The town is surrounded by red rock mountains and the air just feels fresh.
Once fueled up I attended the angel (volunteer) orientation, toured the grounds and got to know fellow volunteers. I volunteered 15 hours of my time for a steep discount to the festival and can’t say enough how much it was worth it! I felt a part of the festival and got to connect with more people and learn much more about the festival than I otherwise would have.
Afterwards I stuck around for the “Stargazing Session” where we got to gaze through a telescope at the stars and planets. Sedona has light pollution laws so you can see the shining stars so well in the sky there!
By this time I was pretty beat, so I retired to the hotel where I sipped on a gluten free beer and prepared from the festivities ahead.
Friday started bright and early with a 7am “Sweat and Surrender” session. The class was half intermediate flow and half yin. The instructor incorporated her Tibetan singing bowls into the practice. Since it was a somewhat small group she was able to put a bowl on each person’s back and gong the bowl. It sends peaceful vibrations through your body and a singing tone throughout the room. Such a beautiful addition to an already great class!
While moseying through the halls I stumbled upon “OM Botanical” a 100% natural, mostly organic skin care line. The nice gentleman sampled it on my hands and right before my eyes I saw the redness disappear and my hands were noticeably smoother and softer. Knowing the skin issues I’d be having lately I bought the set of face wash, moisturizer and acne cream. I’ve been using it for 2 weeks now and can’t say enough how much I LOOVE it! Stay tuned for a review to come!
I just enough time between classes to run to the Sedona Whole Foods to stock up on food and snacks (yoga works up a hunger, bring snacks!!) The hot bar had delicious Brussel sprouts, egg whites and potatoes with peppers. YUM! Happy to fuel up because I needed it for the next class!
Mid-morning Friday I met with my group for a “Yoga on the Rocks” hike to the feminine Sedona vortex on the Chapel trail. Our guide led us into the rocks, explained some of the cacti and other plants along the way. When we found “the spot” we unrolled our mats and went through a 90 minute yoga session of part vinyasa part, part Chi Gong and part meditation. It was amazing! Gazing out to the beautiful Sedona scenery, red rocks and mother nature all while feeling the sun’s warms was amazing. The sunburn later, not so much. I definitely recommend yoga hikes!
When we got back to the festival grounds I hurried off to quickly change and make it to a “Astrology of 2016” class where Divine Harmony, a Sedona local astrologer gave us the run down on the impacts of the stars and planets on our lives for the year. I LOVE astrology, I’ve always been fascinated by it and believed it to be true. I furiously took notes on her every word and had chills throughout the entire class by how much sense everything was making. The dates of planetary shifts and their impact on us…it was all coming together. And it gave insight into the future too. 2016 is a year for self-work and facing your shadow sides in many ways. It also is a time for rebirth, where the work you put in now, will pay off later in the year. Or will blow up in your face is you failed to do the work you needed.
After this invigorating talk I reported for volunteer duty at the registration booth. When my four hours were up I was so tired from the day that I just went back to the room and fell right to sleep.
Saturday I was feeling pumped and ambitious so I signed up for a 6am sunrise all-levels yoga class. I didn’t consider the weather, I was just focused on practicing yoga while watching the beautiful sun light up the sky. It was frigid. It was arctic frigid. But I got an amazing shot of one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen!
After this I rushed to the next class – “Sacred Dub Flow” led by Anton Mackey. I don’t often remember instructors names, but this one I do because he is amazing!! Tattooed, hip and cussing in class – my kind of teacher. He was great and this was definitely one of the best yoga classes I have ever done in my life! The class was packed mat to mat which Anton incorporated into the class by having us hold hands, or help each other get deeper into our poses, a much more connective experience than I had experienced before. Also, there was a live DJ! Yoga to live dub music is amazing!
Immediately after this class I went into the AMPLIFY session which is the daily opportunity for all festive-goers to gather in one room. This sessions focused on integrating aspects of your daily life into “embodying your truth” i.e. being mindful and staying true to yourself throughout life. The 5 personal panel of experts gave insights and advice from personal experiences, some of them truly spoke to me and current situations I have been experiencing. One of the female speakers was like a mirror into myself. One of the things she said that stood out to me was when she moved to LA in her crappy embarrassing car with the bumper stick “it’s all good.” she laughed about how it was absolutely not all good. in fact, a lot was bad. She had recently gone through a bad breakup from a crazy boyfriend (all too familiar) and was looking for love unsuccessfully. This is when she decided to “date myself” where she took herself to dinner, the movies, whatever she wanted to do she did with herself. And ultimately found happiness, during this time she also met her current husband who later said he fell in love with her “because she was always so happy.” I really needed to heat this. It's ok for things not to be "all good." because soon they will get better and it starts with you how handle it. It was things like this that I so badly needed to here and left me feeling inspired to take back my own happiness too.
After the session I went back to the hotel room to eat and relax before “bliss meditation.” Well I relaxed a little too hard and ended up sleeping through the class. Oops. Listen to your body right? I needed that sleep.
My last class on Saturday was Svadhistana Chakra and Yin Yoga with meditation. I’m not a huge fan of yin, but this was nice and the guided meditation was also nice. The class was on the outdoor patio with blankets and heaters making it a cozy gathering. One of the activities was to meditate on a black and picture of a half-moon in a circle, and then close your eyes and envision it with your third eye. To my amazement I could still see it with my eyes closed! Pretty cool. Chakra yoga is pretty neat because it focuses on an area of the body that translates into actions. For example, your throat chakra is your intuition. And when you work on that area through yoga your intuition in life is enhanced. This is definitely a type of yoga I would like to explore more of locally in San Diego!
After class I reported to my next volunteer shift. My fellow angels were all nice, cool people and we shared wine together at the end of the night.
Saturday’s closer was a shiva-trance-dance party with the same awesome DJ group that played during the Sacred Dub Flow class.
I made my way over there and ran into the lady I met up with at the festival (Kathy, my grandma’s best friend). We dined at the hotel restaurant before going to the after party and dancing as our body would move us for about a half hour. It was weird, different and totally awesome!
Sunday I shifted my volunteer set to be early morning so I could leave the festival early that day.
The only class I took on Sunday was “Manifesting Dreams into Action” and one of the two instructors was Keith Mitchell. Keith used to be a pro NFL player until he was paralyzed on the field. This was years ago and he healed himself completely well again with yoga and meditation. Very powerful stuff! The class used vinyasa, breathing exercises and meditation to help you envision your dreams and life desires and manifest them into reality. I was meditating on getting through this difficult part of my life, making more money and not “failing at life.” The class energy was amazing, but it’s what happened after the class blew my mind.
A guy I had been speaking to about his auyervedic drinks ran after me as I had left the building to go home. He wanted me to give my great testimonial. So I came back in the building and sampled a few more of his drinks (detox, brain power, dental – all of which are AMAZING!). We got to talking about my job in PR and marketing and asked if I could do some work for him! The extra money and getting through I was just manifesting – boom. Not only minutes later came to life. Also, when I came back to work the next week I had a bonus waiting for me. I am now a true believer in meditation and manifestation.
I left the festival feeling SO DAMN GOOD! I can’t explain how good I felt from the inside out. I came into this festival feeling less than optimistic about life, turning my cheek hoping my worries would fade away and letting them compound even greater. This festival showed me that I already have the things I was seeking, I have the strength to get through this and anything that comes my way. It also helped me see that life isn’t always good, and that’s ok. Life is a series of ups and downs, but to accept and be ok with it because that is how you’re going to best get through it.
After the Festival
After the festival I dove to Scottsdale and met up with a friend I had not seen in eight years! We went for a girls night out on the town, clubbing, laughing and having so much fun! It was like we hadn’t gone a week without seeing each other. It was so nice to connect again with an old friend!
Monday I loaded the car back up, grabbed an Arizona burrito and drove back to San Diego feeling a million times better than I had when I drove there a few days earlier.
If you have any questions about this yoga festivals, or yoga festivals in general please comment or email me. I’d love to share more of my takeaways!