YOGA FEST 2012

Sunday, June 24th under the pavilion on at Silver Beach Park in St Joseph, MI crowds gathered to support Yoga Fest 2012 a day of peace and yoga connection. The "yoga flash mob" on Friday, June 22nd at Art Hop in Benton Harbor did a great job to raise awareness, promote Yoga Fest, and was lots of fun!

The first Yoga Fest in June of 2011 began as a way to raise funds for Haiti, and their recovery from the 2010 earthquake, via Off The Mat And Into The World. This non-profit organization encourages yogis to build their service and leadership skills through their year-long program called The Global Seva Challenge. Participants aim to raise $20,000 during a one year period for the chosen cause. On June 26th, 2011 approximately 80 people convened at Silver Beach Park to participate in three yoga classes. The first was 108 sun salutations, the second a YogaKids class, and the third a vinyasana yoga practice taught by Chicago guest instructor Daren Friesen. Approximately  $2,500 was raised for the people of Haiti, and in the process  a wonderful sense of community was fostered.

It was this sense of community that became the focus of Yoga Fest 2012. Local and like minded yogis gathered once again under the Shadowland Pavilion for more than twice as many classes, 7 in all, taught by volunteer instructors from all over the Michigan area.  Studios/instructors that were represented included: Maria Rosner, Adrienne White of Yoga Muse, Marsha Wenig of YogaKids, Deirdre Guthrie of Yoga Glow, Satya Yoga of Saugatuck, Don Wenig of Dancing Feet Yoga, and Kristine Kysel of Kyss of Life.

Many others donated their time as well so Yoga Fest 2012 could continue the tradition of service associated with the previous year's event. All profits from Yoga Fest 2012 were donated to three wonderful organizations that are changing the world in ways big and small. First was The Dream Academy in Benton Harbor, Mi. This school provides education and guidance to teens who have failed in other institutions. This "last chance" school makes it their priority to have their students graduate high school and move on to higher education for the best chance at a successful life. The Dream Academy also tried out a pilot yoga program with some of their students last year, and plans to have yoga available in 2012/13 as well.  

The second organization, YogaKids Bridge of Diamonds Foundation recently renamed Go Give Yoga Foundation, is a Michigan non-profit that aims to bring yoga to children in extreme and challenging situations. By training educators and people who are with the children everyday, they are able to have significant sustained impact on the daily lives of the children they serve. They have done significant work in Haiti and also look to expand the program to U.S. locations soon.

Yoga Fest 2012 continued to support Off The Mat Into The World (OTM), by once again donating to their Global Seva Challenge. In 2012 OTM targets sex trafficking in India and aims to bring aid to the girls and women devastated by this tragic industry.  

Yoga Fest 2013 will continue to promote yoga in the Michigan area when more yogis reconvene on the shores of Lake Michigan to celebrate the gifts of this wonderful practice and serve those in need locally and beyond.