The first annual Caribbean Yoga Conference in Jamaica went off with a bang earlier this month
…and I was lucky enough to be there! The conference, which went down earlier this month in beautiful Montego Bay, Jamica, was nothing short of amazing, and I wanted to take a moment to share with you what we all experienced out there.
I am blessed to have had the opportunity to attend a lot of different yoga events thus far in my life – from multiple day outdoor festivals, to indoor conferences, to retreats, teacher trainings, workshops, and all points in between. Most of these events are held in amazing cities or in-demand hot spot travel destinations, and there is no doubt that all of these different events have a positive impact on all in attendance and the surrounding area. However, in my opinion, what set the Caribbean Yoga Conference apart from the rest of the pack, and the reason that everyone is raving about it so, is the fact that the conference was rooted in Jamaican culture, and was hyper-focused on involving the local community, getting them in attendance, supporting local organizations, and teaching and sharing the practice of yoga with the locals.
The conference (of course) featured a great lineup of popular US based yoga teachers like Seane Corn, Kathryn Budig, Simon Park and AcroYoga founders Jenny & Jason, alongside local Jamaican teachers like Nadine McNeil and Gaia Budhai. In an effort to make this an intimate gathering, there we’re only 250 tickets sold, and each class provided a hands-on atmosphere for attendees to not only take class with some of their favorite teachers, but to actually learn something as well.
Most importantly in my opinion, the CYC featured a heavy component of Seva and community service intertwined throughout the weekend. Seane Corn kicked-off the conference with an opening keynote focusing on embodying spiritual activism; Paige Elenson came all the way from Kenya to offer several classes and discussions throughout the weekend about her NPO and official CYC charity partner the Africa Yoga Project; attendees “left campus” with the Karma Krew to do yoga with children at a local orphanage; and several open community classes were offered throughout the weekend for the local community to attend free of charge.
Approximately thirty percent of the 250 persons in attendance at CYC 2012 were Jamaicans. In 2013, the CYC aims to double both overall attendance and the percentage of Jamaicans present. Endorsed by the Jamaica Tourist Board, the event is positioned to be a major tourism attraction in years to come and also stand as a major player internationally amongst yoga conferences.
If I personally had to pick my favorite moment from the conference, aside from practicing in paradise alongside a crew of amazingly beautiful and positive people, it would for sure be the beach side, ocean water running under my feet, dancing under the stars, MC Yogi dance party – it was epic!
In her own words, festival producer Kim Moon stated “My biggest take away from the first CYC is that I have proven to myself that anything is possible. That’s not to say it was easy, but with a whole lot of hard work and a willingness to make mistakes and learn from them, my vision became a reality…to see the local Jamaican yoga community, and community as a whole even if they had never heard of yoga before, come together to support this event, and to then in turn be able to give back to everyone and the community as a whole was a major success for all of us in attendance…and to see everyone out there – Jamaican, black, white, Japanese, european, whatever – floating around all day with smiles on their faces…it really was a dream come true. I cannot wait to keep spreading the love in Jamaica through the Caribbean Yoga Conference and all of our great charity partners in the years to come.“
Local Jamaican teacher Nadine McNeil who offered the closing keynote address noted, “Jamaica is the perfect place for the Caribbean Yoga Conference. Our rich culture is a yogi’s haven. Bob Marley was undoubtedly a yogi, and if he were alive today he would have been here.” I could not agree with Nadine more!
I cannot wait to see what the Caribbean Yoga Conference has up there sleeves for year two, something tells me that it is going to be awesome! Stay in the flow with the cyc at www.caribbeanyogaconference.com and visit their facebook page to check out some more photos.