The yoga scene in the UK can sometimes be either very city centric, with the London streets competing for lithe, smoothie swilling exercisers to come to their slick studios, or esoteric and spiritual, with hippies out in the sticks connecting to Mother Nature through their breathing.
Whitstable Yoga Festival challenges both of those stereotypes. Taking place in the beautiful Kent coastal town from Friday 15th to Sunday 17th June, it features workshops and classes, a market, and discussions, all aiming to allow people to experience yoga in whatever way works for them.
There’s intensive Iyengar and Ashtanga, relaxing Pranayama and Nidra, some partner yoga and children’s yoga, and accessible yoga. Classes are taught by teachers from across the country, with a particular focus on Kent based practitioners. The varied line up really celebrates all that is good about yoga, and aims to both challenge and support people in their practice.
I caught up with Monica Marini of Yoga Morphic to find out more about the festival.
Whitstable is a lovely location for the festival. Why did you choose it?
I have lived in Whitstable for the past 14 years and watched it go from a quirky, slow coastal town to a thriving community of artists and Yoga teachers! It is simply the right place for it and weather permitting one can practice yoga everywhere anytime: on the grass at sunrise, in the water at sunset!
Why celebrate yoga?
My journey through Yoga started about 20 years ago. I have been teaching for about 8 years and I am never tire to practice, learn or share anything Yoga.
When Bernadette Fisher and I returned from a trip in Southern India we felt that we so many Yoga teachers in the area what was needed was a Shanga. But with all of us running from venue to venue to teach it is almost impossible to sit and share. So the festival became the opportunity to create a moment in time when not only teachers, but everyone who practice and loves yoga could be together. The first Festival was a blessing in every sense. We had one of the hottest weekend in history; the beach was heaving with people enjoy the gorgeous weather; people came from as far as Ashford and Bromley and the energy generated was so powerful and the response so great we felt we had met a need for more Yoga in the area. Hence the second Whitsable Yoga Festival.
You have a real mix of things on offer – mindfulness, partner yoga, painting to music…how do you think yoga principles infuse various aspects of life?
Yoga is life and as Rod Stryker says ‘practice is about being prepared to make good decisions when we aren’t practicing.’ Yoga finds its fullest expression off the mat: in the ways we approach our daily activities, how we live in our communities, how we manage our relationships, and the many ways we interact with each other and our environment. I come from and environmental background and for me the applications of the ethical principles of Yoga are a progressive way forward to restore balance in the world both socially and economically. We are still a long way, but allowing people to experience Yoga in its many forms reinforces these messages as a transformative methodology to restore harmony within and around us. So, in a partner yoga class we can remember how to support one another and children can practice finger knitting whilst establishing mindfulness.
For information and tickets head here.