As the sun shone on our faces and kissed our shoulders we settled in to begin welcoming the yogis and yoginis to Exhale 2015. Wristbands on, schedule in hand the guests were ready to take on the weekend that was.
The festival opened with a grounding class from co-founder Carl who brought everyone together in a strong dynamic vinyasa practice. Friday afternoon was then a plethora of yoga to suit all tastes from high energy partner work in acro to chilled restorative via the soft tones of Roberto. No good festival would be complete without a campfire and the man to take on the melodies was Michael, a musical maestro who lulled us all with his joyful tunes. As the party came alive we danced, shaked, hugged and grooved to Charlie Dark and Warrior One late into the night.
Left feeling a little creaky after a night’s sleep in a tent? Well it’s no problem at a yoga festival because after one session of yoga or a massage and you’re ready to roll again (quite literally in some cases!). Carl helped us to open the wings of our hearts in a fun and uplifting practice, including a partner plank off and working with trust in balancing postures.
After refuelling on Pip & Nut nut butters, sourdough bread and an array of delicious cereals the troops were ready to bring on Saturday. For those seeking the sweat-life there was Hot Pod yoga set inside a barn and Run Dem Crew’s version of a trail run around our neighbouring campsites. The families received an unexpected sight as 20 lycra clad runners bounced past them!
With Friday’s theme of ‘togetherness’ running through the festival air, Saturday sought to strengthen the bonds being made between old friends and new. The main barn was packed to receive a multi-teacher led class from the Boys of Yoga. Whilst Chloe Brotheridge worked to hypnotise a room full of 50 people open to exploring new ways of thinking.
The inquisitively titled “What the f**k is yoga” proved to be a beautifully bonding session on bhakti yoga; yoga of devotion and the heart. A lot of happy, smiling yogis came out of the two hour workshop with Jim.
As light turned to dark the steady buzz that had been growing throughout the day erupted into a dazzling array of day-glow neon! Yes that’s right, Black & Light yoga. Part yoga, part rave this class had the barn shaking and the tunes pumping. It was quite the spectacle for those partial to a bit of neon! The rave set the scene for the rest of the night as Warrior One took to the decks. Yoga, like life, is all about balance. And rightfully so there was a well-stocked bar serving up craft beers and wine. For those looking for a headache free wake-up there was the most incredible café, aptly named Inhale with probably the best range of Pukka teas a tea lover could ask for.
Early birds were treated to a festival version of the ever popular Morning Gloryville on Sunday. Those of us still chilling in the campsite could feel the pulsation of a heavy bassline and watch in delight as people danced in and out of the barn creating a colour haze to the morning.
Still riding high on the energy from Friday and Saturday the camp were treated to a chilled Sunday of, of course more yoga, a ‘tug of love’ and a ‘switched on’ session with Nick Jankel, inviting us to explore the head, heart and mind.
Keeping in the tone of unity and comradery we snuggled up into the main barn as night fell, ready for the gong bath. If you ever had the pleasure of singing mantras with 65 other people you will know what it’s like to have goosebumps all over and feel the reverberations resounding in your chest. To round off what was truly an epic weekend the whole festival were treated to live traditional Indian music. People cuddled and hot chocolate was consumed as eyes and ears were fixated on the two musicians.
We were lucky enough to witness a full moon on Saturday which illuminated the whole site. It’s positive energy could be felt throughout as it shone down on us.
As Monday rolled in there were hugs all round as people made their way home. Eyes shined a little brighter than before, hearts felt fuller and smiles were aplenty. Building a sense of community in a festival is no easy task, yet Exhale held the space and those within it so well, it’s certainly something special to remember.
If this little tale of Exhale 2015 tickled your fancy then guess what? Exhale 2016 isn’t far off! To check out the line up and nab yourself an early bird ticket head to www.exhalefestival.com. I will see you there!