Nama-stoked In San Diego
By Nikita Mehta
As the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, some 400 yogis gathered on the cool sand overlooking the surf for a singular purpose; to set a Guinness Book World Record for the largest collective Om circle in the world. For 25 minutes we sat, facing each other, facing the ocean, facing the sky and gave our vibration to the collective. Maybe you watched our Instagram live story of the event, but nothing could compare to the presence of being there in that moment. At the end of the 108 oms something truly magical happened. Maybe it was just the carry-over of vibration, or our mind that was yearning for more, but when the last om was chanted, the ocean seemed to throw the vibration back to us, like it was oming along for a few more rounds. It was palpable, it was powerful, it was oneness. It was also the end of the amazing San Diego Yoga Festival down on the last beach of Southern California.
The vibe of the whole weekend was nama-stoked. Founder Shawna Schenk said that this word embodied the laid-back atmosphere of San Diego with the chill vibes of doing yoga on the beach. In full respect to the border and the political climate, Shawna included Spanish- English Vinyasa classes and a meditative walk to the USA-Mexico border. The last yoga class of the event featured translator Karla Rodas and about 100 Spanish speaking yogis. Shawna spoke about coming together as community and caring for our neighbors and Karla lovingly translated both the message and the flow.
There was so much to love about this festival; the beach, the vendors, the accessibility for all levels of yoginis; here are some of our favorites from this amazing festival.
- The first day of festival it rained. And you know what? No one cared! Our first experience of being nama-stoked was listening to the music and moving our bodies to Elka Haeckel’s Yoga Samba Dance. She moved with such passion on stage that we moved and grooved along with her through the rain. Her amazing Samba music even had people on the pier moving their hips. We weren’t surprised at the spontaneous dance parties because samba music always gets people moving. As the San Diego-based movie Anchorman told us: “They’ve done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.” (Bonus: It was Elka’s birthday and at the end of class the whole beach sang Happy Birthday to her!)
- Ryan Glidden lead the most challenging class of the entire weekend, mainly because he wanted to keep us warm in the rain. His yoga class; Vinyasa Yoga: Strength and Flexibility featured live music by Jonathen Coyle. Within 10 minutes our rain jackets were off and we were using the gentle rain to keep us from overheating. We could barely lift our right arms at the end of class. I don’t know if you heard us counting but we did over a thousand chaturangas. (Ron Burgandy anyone?) At the end we laid on our back and opened our mouths and let the rain rehydrate our souls. Next time we are in SD we will be headed to Mosaic Yoga to take another class with Ryan!
- All weekend long, donation-based reiki and sound healing was being offered on the picnic tables. We were so enamored with Brittanie Markham, one of the reiki healers, that we went back to her again and again and again. There were 5 other reiki healers who were offering chakra balancing reiki with special Binaural Beats being delivered directly to the listener via headphones.
- After blissing out with the light rain on Saturday, the weather gods blessed us with the quintessential San Diego day on Sunday, and we celebrated by hanging out on the sand all day long. Our favorite vinyasa class of the day was with Heather Foat, featuring live music by DJ Mango. DJ Mango serenaded us at the beginning of the class, “He had a voice that could make a wolverine purr and suits so fine they made Sinatra look like a hobo.” (Sorry, it’s hard to be in San Diego without thinking of Anchorman.) We loved the playlist and the flow but the best part of this class was Heather herself. Heather currently works at the UCSD Psychiatric Ward and Senior Behavioral Unit, helping patients who are suffering that are suicidal, depressed and anxious through yoga. She has worked in recovery homes and has served as an Ambassador for Yoga Across America, which brings yoga to underserved communities and high schools. Inspired? So were we. But she didn’t just have the credentials, her class was lively, engaging and savasana worthy.
We feel nama-stoked about attending this year’s San Diego Yoga Festival and have already begun planning for next year’s trip down south! If you would like to learn more about the festival visit: San DiegoYogaFestival.com.
Till then: Stay Classy San Diego.