Get Nama-Stoked At San Diego Yoga Festival
By Nikita Mehta
Dear SF yogi peeps. I love San Francisco. The parks, MoMa, Ocean Beach, our amazing yoga community and culture, I love it all. But before I moved up to Nor Cal, I was a So Cal girl, born and bred. I grew up in the OC and learned to surf in the warm waters of PB and spent my 21st birthday wandering the bars of the Gaslamp district. So, when I learned about the San Diego Yoga Festival, I knew that this was an experience that I had to share with all of you.
The San Diego Yoga Festival will take place over 4 days from March 9- 12th. The main days of the festival are Saturday and Sunday March 10th and 11th and will be held at Imperial Beach! This is SF Yoga Mag’s first visit down to the festival, so we sat down with founder Shawna Schenk to get the low down on all things SDYF.
What was the spark of inspiration for the San Diego Yoga Festival?
The festival came to me 3 years ago during a deep meditation I had. I had no intention at that time to create a yoga festival. I was meditating at another yoga festival, the Sedona Yoga Festival, where I was teaching. I attended a drum meditation class, and I was tired from teaching all day and I was stoked to just lay there and let the sound heal me. The sound of the drums was so powerful that before I knew it I was in a trance. To this day I can affirm that that was the most potent meditation of my entire life. I saw the flower of life, I got answers to many things that were hanging around in my brain and my soul, I saw past lives and spirit animals and colors, it was a meditation orgasm. And then in one part of the meditation I had a very clear message that I needed to bring San Diego Yoga Festival to fruition. Before that we didn’t have a yoga festival in San Diego and I am a yoga teacher in San Diego, I have my own business Yoga with Shawna, and the meditation was clear that I was the person to do it and I saw exactly how it needed to be done. That was 3 years ago and as soon as I got home from that trip I started planning and the first yoga festival happened last year in January 2017. Now we are in our second year. Our first year was super successful, we had over a thousand people and a hundred classes and we featured teachers from throughout San Diego and throughout the world actually. Last year we had the youngest yoga teacher, she was 8, and the oldest yoga teacher, he was in his 90s teaching as well. We are stoked to be in our second year because we know that it will be even more magical.
What about the hurdles of starting a yoga festival from the ground up?
It’s a joy working on this thing. To be honest, I am not an event planner, but in this case, I had to be because I am doing this event! But that is not my forte. I am a yoga teacher, reiki healer, I certify people, I like to sit and talk to plants and do yoga on the beach and I don’t like excel spreadsheets or computers or ordering port a potties or trying to figure out insurance. I have my own business so I know how to do those things. They are more a labor of love aside from a passion, because I know that in order to get the message out there and do what I was born to do, I have to do these root chakra things. I knew that if I was going to take on a festival and do it well year after year and touch people and synergistically touch all the local businesses, that I would have to be the best version of myself. So, I amped up my personal yoga practice to 2-3 hours a day and just continue to work on myself. So, when there are challenges, whether it be having to work on permitting stuff or taking the risk with big financial commitments to invest in this festival to make it wonderful or managing people, I am so grateful that I have the mat to hold me and help me and guide me. I feel like something more beautiful is going through me to make this thing happen and so my hurdles don’t really exist they are blessings. I feel like it’s a joy and an honor and a gift to be able to create something that I know will shift the consciousness of the community. Sitting in yoga together for 4 days changes a person and I am honored to have the role of helping to do that.
What is the theme of this year’s event?
This year our theme of the event is: all about the ohm. I changed the location of the event, last year it was in Ocean Beach, this year it is in Imperial Beach in San Diego. Imperial Beach is the most southerly beach city in the county. From the festival grounds, Mexico is only 3 miles away, and you can see it from the beach and where we will be. This year I feel like there is a lot that is happening with politics and with segregation, separation, judgement, and I really felt like I wanted to do something to show people that segregation is just separation and it only hurts us and created anxiety and fears. So, while other people might be saying, ‘Let’s build a bigger wall,’ San Diego Yoga Festival is saying let’s tear down the walls around our heart that are made of fears, that make us be judgmental or create negative vibration instead of coming together as one. So, this year All About the Ohm means that I am trying to offer every type of yoga and show that yoga is for everyone, because yoga is really just sitting with yourself and loving yourself and learning how to love yourself. We are going to have yoga classes of all different styles and all different levels. And then we are going to have specialized yoga classes; we will have yoga for first responders and military; yoga classes for cancer, for patients, fighters, survivors and their family; we will have a kids yoga and family center; we will have yoga with your pets; and a reiki clinic for your animal; a class in Spanish so that people can come and take a Vinyasa class taught in Spanish by a teacher from Tijuana; the last class of the day will be led by me and it will be yoga for unity and it will be translated into Spanish and ASL, the class is sitting together and talking about how we are all human and how being a human is beautiful and how we have the same struggles. The opening class is a partner yoga class, we are all about connecting with each other, not being afraid of connection, being vulnerable and open. The mayor is actually going to be one of our partners on stage, and we are very excited about that. Our closing ceremony is what I am most excited about, we are going to set a record in the Guinness Book of World Records, we will be ohming 108 times, so we are setting a record for the largest and first recorded ohm circle in the world. Our goal is to have 7k people ohming together because I was watching a documentary about the harp and it stated that when 7k people meditate together it actually shifts the human conciseness because we are all energetically connected, so when I saw that statistic I knew that was my goal for this festival. The last day of the festival; March 11th we will have a free closing ceremony, open to the public where we will sit an ohm for unity and peace together 108 times and it will be recorded. And I hope that people try and break the record because that means that people will be coming together to meditate in bigger masses My hope is that each year the festival breaks that record! It’s not about the money, it’s about the heart, about people coming together and sitting together in a peaceful movement.
What has been the most rewarding part of this experience?
I have been really pleased with the reaction that I have gotten during this year, the emails that I have received that detail peoples experience with San Diego Yoga Festival; a few people are in relationships with people that they met at the festival; I got an email saying that someone checked themselves into rehab for an eating disorder or drinking and drugs to help fight addictions that they have been dealing with their whole life; people have found their passion and life through the festival and I thank each and every person for that. The festival creates the space but the humans worked on themselves and we are so excited to be part of that.
What class are you most looking forward to this year?
The class that I am most excited about is a class that I will be teaching called “Wedding to Yourself.” This will be a San Diego Yoga Festival tradition. We will have rings and get down on one knee and make vows to ourselves and even plan a honeymoon for ourselves. This is just to remind ourselves that the biggest commitment that we make is to ourselves! It was very successful last year and we are looking forward to it this year!
What should our readers expect?
The festival will be entirely on the beach, we will be offering surf lessons and yoga on skateboards so that you really get the So Cal experience. I started saying “nama-stoked” last year, “stoked’ is So Cal slang, and that’s kind of what this is, honoring this amazing, epic place that we live.
We are expecting around 4k yogis to attend the event and we would like to offer 50% off ticket prices to your readers! Use code: SFYogaMag at checkout for half off 1 or 2 day passes.
To get your ticket to the San Diego Yoga Festival visit www.sandiegoyogafestival.com.