World Yoga Festival needs to be on your 2018 festival hit-list - having never attended a yoga festival nor an alcohol-free one, the 100% vegetarian and alcohol-free World Yoga Festival was a complete and utter breath of fresh air. Excuse us whilst we become full-time yogis’.
After recently returning from a weekend of reflection and relaxation set in the beautiful Beale Park in Reading, the feeling of zen we’ve been left with is fantastic. The three-day festival began with a lovely performance from a dancer that touched on gender fluidity and identity - let the open-mindedness begin.
In its second year, the festival is still in its infancy and fairly unknown. We doubt that will be the case for much longer, the site was litter-free the entire time and the toilets were actual bathrooms where you didn’t have to hover and hold your breath whilst you went to the toilet (you know what we mean festival-goers).
The area was split into parking, camping and the event site which were all minutes from each other. Unlike a bigger festival, you don’t get completely tired out walking from one area to another before it even starts.
Friday, 7am - Zubin Zarthoshtimanesh’s Iyengar Yoga Masterclass
Having absolutely no knowledge of Iyengar Yoga, we had a little stretch, put on our yoga pants and felt prepared to attend. Boy, were we wrong. Attending a masterclass by a master of yoga was a humbling experience, particularly as the 70-year-olds in front of us were killing it and we were struggling. We then decided to go for more of the beginner stuff which was a perfect option.
If the 70-year-olds rocking the yoga wasn’t inspirational enough - enter Tao Porchon-Lynch, the 98-years young yoga teacher and former Hollywood actress, incredible to watch and an absolute honour to listen to. Accompanied on stage, at first we thought she would be talking the audience through the moves but no. She then sat on the floor and as she lifted her legs up to her head (*mouth on floor) there were no words. None.
Awakening Our Third Eye & Iyengar for Beginners
Attempting to awaken our third eye sounded like a great idea. You’re at a yoga festival, it’s the kinda thing you do. What we were not expecting was the intense emotional vibes and release that some people experienced. Dr Omanand led a group of us through an intense sort of meditation experience. One of us started laughing (inappropriately) and one of us had a dead leg - we were not reaching any sort of awakening. The idea was that you release all the sorrow you have inside which is fantastic and really seemed to work for some people as they cried uncontrollably. Perhaps next year, we will be ready for our awakening.
We decided we wanted to attend a combination of yoga and meditation. Sunday morning was time for Iyengar for beginners with Uday Bhosale. It was a great class and we felt so refreshed after (bit sore) but mainly awake and loving life. Learning from a person who had such knowledge and had been taught by Guruji, Geetaji and Prashantji in 1999, was incredible. All the tiny corrections they make to your form just mean you know you’re doing it right when you come back to it at a later time.
A little yoga in the morning, a swim in the lake in the afternoon then a spot of lunch and music in the evening, repeat for three days = bliss. You can find the full video of the festival here.
The Healing Power of Chakra Tea
As the festival was 100% vegetarian, there were a number of vegan options available. Sadly, whenever we ate them we were so hungry and forgot to photograph it (curses to our damn bellies). Out of the nine or so food vans available, by far the best was Lalita’s, serving Indian street food, all vegan. We tried the dosa with potato, dal, rice and a coconut chutney - delicious. Beleaf from Bristol were also there, serving up some delightful salads where all the vegans could get their hummus fix for the weekend.
Our favourite treat from the weekend came from Real Remedies who made their festival debut at World Yoga Festival and are set to be on the festival trail for the rest of the summer. All alcohol-free and intricately made, the chakra teas are all highly tuned and tested. The herbal fruit fizz’s were incredible and the chakra shot train left you with a buzz. As well as tea’s and cocktails, we tried a vegan body boost based on apple cider vinegar - very strong but oh so good for you!
When the Didgeridoo Base Line Drops
Stretched, fed & calm, every evening offered up a difference performance but the absolute stand out had to be Sika Deer, a gifted and recognised didgeridoo player. We were promised a sound journey and he delivered. Not accustomed to the sound of the didgeridoo, we had no idea what to expect, we particularly did not expect the artist to jump off the stage into the crowd, didgeridoo in tow - the crowd went wild. It was like day two Boomtown, Tribal Frog stage. Once we pushed pass the barrier of self-consciousness of dancing without alcohol, we were free and loving it.
If you’re after something different, relaxing and an utterly immersible time then this needs to be your go to festival next year. There is a volunteer option as well which looked really fun, they worked three five-hour shifts over the festival and had food vouchers for each shift.
We are now starting our own yoga journey. Lesson from the weekend - we need to up our yoga game. Thanks for creating a weekend to remember and see you next year World Yoga Festival!