Conscious Gathering: An Interview With The Founder Of The San Diego Yoga Festival
By Stephanie Santos
During one of the best meditations of her life, Shawna Schenk had an epiphany; she wanted to start a yoga festival in San Diego. A few months and hundreds of emails, lists and preparations later, her vision is becoming a reality. San Diego Yoga Festival kicks off January 27, 2017. During this 4-day event, attendees will be able to take classes from nearly all yoga practices including yoga for kids (taught by some adorable 8 year olds), Vinyasa, Hatha, Acro-Yoga, Paddleboard yoga and so much more. There will also be music lessons, an art shop and many of the classes will be taught on sunset cliffs, overlooking the ocean. Attendees will have all the yoga their hearts desire, but it will also be an adventure. One of the founders, Shawna Schenk took some time out of her busy day to share with us the creation of this unique experience.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I am from New Jersey and I was a writing professor in my first career. Straight out of college, I received my masters degree and I was teaching at a University at 21 years old. I grew up really quick, I was focused on achievement. I enjoyed my work, but I wanted to do more. I wanted to effect the lives of my students and do something important but I didn’t know what that was. When I started teaching yoga I drew on the lessons that I learned from becoming a professor. Though I never imagined that I would be a yoga instructor, I find that the basics of teaching; modifying your approach, being flexible with different learning styles, and always have patience have helped me succeed. Years later, here I am; teaching yoga full time and writing books on yoga. I am writing on topics that really matter to me. I am so glad that I made the decision to pursue such an important goal for my life.
How has it been organizing the inaugural festival?
It has been a labor of love. I have been re-learning that not every email is urgent and I need to plan time for myself. I am used to managing my own studio, teaching a full schedule of classes and teaching at festivals. But this is a whole different adventure of time management and self care. I am co-producing the festival with Melanie Williams, who started as a fellow yoga teacher, who then became my best friend. We have a great relationship and truly balance each other out. Our nicknames for each other are ‘Boots and Brains.' I am the brains, I have the vision and these wild plans. Melanie sees the reality of the situation, she pulls me back down to earth. She brings my visions to life with her attention to detail and planning. We are a perfect team.
Have you ever done this before?
When I started teaching I organized Chakra Camp, which was a bunch of yogis, camping out in the woods. Each day we would cover a different Chakra. It was dirty and so much fun, I even had a vendor! I learned then that I really liked conscious gatherings. When you are in the same room with 100 people and all are meditating it creates a vibration like nothing else.
How is this event different?
The vision has changed a bit, but the intention remains. We wanted the event to be open to all, well-meaning and supportive of our values. All of our vendors have been vetted for ethical practices within their work. We had an extensive application for our instructors, including a bio and a video. We wanted the event to be special and self supported. We raised money through sponsors and found that every time a big expense came up, we found the money to make it happen. We surrendered and the universe provided for us. One of the best stories I have from planning the event is Dr. Bali, he’s 92 and is a yoga instructor and was very interested in the event. After some planning, he joined our team of teachers! He will be coming in from Canada and I cannot wait to take his class.
I think it’s so important to note that the festival is on the beach in the open air. Originally we had planned on holding it in one of the beautiful hotels in San Diego, but holding the classes outside on the beach, in the heart of San Diego is so special. It’s about community and synergy.
What would you like attendees of this festival to walk away with?
I want all of the attendees to have the experience that I have when I leave a festival like Bhakti Fest. I always feel transformed. When you get back in your car and see the bustling world around you, it’s like you need to get acclimated. I want our attendees to be inspired by the bubble of life in that conscious community and make that bubble not a bubble at all: a reality, a life in which the individual feels they are in a happy, conscious environment everyday. This environment starts by nurturing the body and mind (the inside environment) of the soul. I want the attendees to learn more about themselves through their practice. And of course, meet amazing teachers and try something new!
To learn more about the co-creators of the SDYF Shawna Schenk and Melanie Williams click here.
For reading this blog, The San Diego Yoga Festival would like to thank you by offering this PROMO CODE: Namastoked for an additional $108 off your 1 or 3-day ticket!