The Muskoka Yoga Festival is days away, and its workshop leaders couldn’t be more excited. While each bring different skills and areas of expertise to the table, their shared enthusiasm and anticipation is palpable.
“You’re going to really experience a happiness and joyfulness not only because you’re going to be doing so many different kinds of movement, but also you’re going to be outside with fresh air, having fun with people that know how to keep it simple and play and know how to be totally intimate and intricate without having any expectations,” says Ann Green, owner of BLiSS Ann Green Yoga in Barrie.
“It’s going to feel like you’re a kid in a playground again and it’s also just for yourself. It’s not about comparison at all. It’s totally about enjoying yourself and making friendships.”
Green is leading the workshops SHiNE Design on Saturday, July 8 at 9 a.m. and The Embodiment of SHiNE on Sunday, July 9 at noon.
Ft. Ann Green, Stephanie Mills, Darren Austin Hall, and Shirlee Williams
“[The concept of shine is] all that my work is about,” Green says. “How you can tap into your own potential and how you can use resonance and a full living attitude of gratitude to really help yourself, but also being that light to others and letting them shine. That’s really self service and self regulation and being helpful and supportive. Our whole world needs a lot more love and a lot more connection to nature to bring us back to our true nature and it’s the perfect attitude to do that, especially through yoga.”
At Green’s workshops, attendees can expect lots of laughter, thought-provoking concepts, meditation, and a very playful practice.
“There’s a lot of meeting people where they’re at,” says Green, who grew up in North Bay. “There will be coming together in community. There will also be a very respectful sense of being independent and finding your authenticity and the things that really light you up and turn you on and that you can live passionately when you’re lit up.”
"It's going to feel like you're a kid in a playground again and it's also just for yourself. It's not about comparison at all. It's totally about enjoying yourself and making friendships."
Green isn’t the only one excited for the Festival. Stephanie Mills, the Grounded Gypsy, is also looking forward to what’s to come.
“I think that any time you get to practice yoga when you’re with natural elements like water and grass, there’s a greater sense of connection and calm in the practice,” Mills says. “I host retreats every year and just watching people being removed from sort of a dense, busy environment into an environment where you’re reminded by natural elements to slow down, I think that is really apparent.”
Mills is leading two workshops on the Festival weekend — Prana Party with DJ Carmelinda DiManno on Saturday, July 8 at 11 a.m., and Soul Revival! with DiManno, DJ Erick B, and Arash.
“There will be really uplifting music. People can move their bodies in any way that feels good to them,” Mills says. “It’s a strong practice. An uplifting practice. People go away feeling a little stronger, a little more open, and maybe a little more playful in their practice.”
The party can take many forms depending on the crowd — from full-out dancing to an extended Shavasana.
“We really just read the vibe and whoever shows up really creates the tone of the party,” Mills says.
Mills’ family has a cottage in Muskoka and she’s been visiting the area since childhood. She’s excited to share the natural habitat with more urban yogis, but she as Energy Exchange Ambassador for the Festival, she was also aware of potential challenges.
“I’m a real believer that yoga should be accessible to everyone, so it’s important to me to play a role in ensuring that people could get up there even if they couldn’t afford it and that we’re increasing our collaboration as best we could,” Mills says.
“So whether that was about bringing up musicians or connecting people with ride shares or accommodations, I’ve been throwing parties for a really long time and I get really excited about that kind of stuff, bringing different tribes together and making sure everyone can be part of everything, really, so that’s really how I got involved in it.”
A new visitor to the Muskoka area is Darren Austin Hall, who is teaching Source Resonance: Sound Healing, Chanting, and Vibrational Reality on Saturday, July 8 at 5 p.m. and Earth Wisdom on Sunday, July 9 at 2 p.m.