Earlier this year, we ran away to the circus – yoga and wellness festival, Soul Circus, that is! Set in the lush rolling Cotsworld hills, this yogi gathering was full of inspirational teachers, mindful mediation, affirming talks and unusual workshops.
In The Moment Production Editor Kate Bennett and Sales Executive Tiffany Jackson went along to see what it was all about – Kate reports back with her yoga festival lessons.
How to be humble
In a rocket yoga class, our teacher told us to drop the ego. He explained that although you might be able to whip out a handstand no bother in your class at home, when you’ve unrolled your yoga mat in a tent on uneven ground, with a gentle breeze flowing around the space, things might be a little different. And he was right!
But there was no shame in not being able to do a pose or take a bind. Each person’s festival experience is different – you might have done back-to-back classes and be too exhausted to do half-moon in your last class (guilty as charged), or you might just want to take it easy and enjoy the flow, rather than stressing yourself out pushing for pose perfection.
Once you’ve realised this, you can relax and have fun, without judgement from yourself or anyone else.
How to take a risk
Although, as I mentioned, you don’t have to push yourself, a yoga festival is the perfect place to try something new or something that you’ve been aiming towards for a while.
Classes range from general to specific, so if you want to work on arm balances or try yin, you’ll undoubtedly find a teacher that is full of good advice to help you reach your goal. There’s also the fact that you’re surrounded by fellow yogis, who are a super-supportive bunch and will encourage you to just give it a go.
If you can’t try a handstand when you’re in a field covered in glitter, when can you? And there’s the additional help of the soft grass landing – no hard wooden floors to bash yourself on here.
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How to surprise yourself
The line-up at Soul Circus was incredible, filled with all kinds of different types of classes that we had never experienced before. We thought that we already knew what kind of yogis we were, and exactly what kind of yoga we liked to do, so it was a surprise to discover new practices that we loved.
Both of us were sceptical of Shamanism, for example, but after we tried a Power Animal shamanic workshop, we were amazed by what we got out of it and eager to try it again in the future.
There were surprises on the mat as well. In just this one weekend, I managed to get poses and balances that I never thought I’d be able include in my practice. It made me realise that there is no limit to your yoga development – you just need to be able to dedicate time and practise to it.
How to improve your practice
There’s something about doing yoga all day at a festival that deeply changes your practice. Even if you’re doing regular classes in your day-to-day life, it’s easy to forget that little tip from your teacher that changed a pose for you, or how it felt when you slightly altered your drishti.
But once you’re doing some of the foundation moves of yoga on the hour, every hour, you start to notice how each movement feels and how you can improve it.
A top tip would be to take a yoga journal or just your favourite notebook with you to keep a track of how you feel and things you’ve learnt about your postures. Then, when you eventually say goodbye to the festival and get back onto your mat at home, you can remember the developments that you’ve made.
How to enjoy the moment
One of the major benefits of Soul Circus is its size – big enough that there’s plenty to see and do, but small enough that you don’t need to coordinate with friends or panic about getting from one class to another on time.
Without the stress of schedules and timings, it’s so easy to put your phone away, take off your watch and relax into the festival. Desperate to get into Steffy White’s mandala flow class? There’s no need to miss lunch – you can see how busy its getting from the comfort of the canteen across the field. Too cold to enjoy your restorative yoga session? Pop back to your tent to grab another jumper in no time at all.
And the best part is the magic that happens in those moments between classes. From meeting Maxi Jazz of Faithless fame to taking a wrong turn on the way to the Galaxy Tent and discovering an enchanting rum shack on the edge of a lake, the possibilities for magic were endless.
Soul Circus returns on the 16–18 August 2019. If you want to run away to the circus, you can find out more and buy tickets here: www.soulcircus.yoga.
Photography by Elad Itzkin Yoga Photography and Drishti Yoga Photography.