For two weeks before the yoga festival, I was in excruciating pain. Lying down hurt, straightening my legs involved help from my hands, and my upper back was impossibly tight. I halved my weekly yoga practice and took a break from running. The iPad I used at work felt heavy, not to mention the multiple boxes I had to move, shuffle around, and unpack all day. I was exhausted — from overtraining or something else, I don’t know.
When my alarm went off at 5:30 on the day of the festival, I debated turning it off and going back to sleep—looking at the schedule to learn that the first class was actually at 6:00 and not 6:30 seemed to justify this decision even more. How would I get dressed, get caffeinated, and drive to the festival grounds in 30 minutes? I felt committed to the class, so I quickly got dressed, grabbed my mat, and went straight to the car. Fortunately, it was only a ten-minute drive.
It was pitch black. The only lights surrounded the registration tent. I gave them my name, received my wristband, and headed over to Stage 2 right on time. As someone who is perpetually early, this pained me. When it started to drizzle, I regretted my decision. What was I doing here? I hate rain. Begrudgingly, I rolled my mat out next to the ten or so other people who were braving the early wake-up, darkness, and light spattering. I couldn’t tell who was who in the dark and could only assume the figure on the stage was my yoga teacher.
We all began to move. Inhale, reach up, exhale, bow, right foot back, heart lifts, left foot back, plank, chaturanga (or figure-eight pose), inhale to cobra/upward dog, exhale to downward dog, left foot forward, heart lifts, right foot forward, forward fold, inhale to rise with arms above head, exhale to bring hands to heart centre. Repeat on the other side. I quickly realized that my mat was not just on a slight slant, but there was a deep divot in the ground near the front. The first few proved challenging with a freshly awoken body and tight hip flexors, but slowly I fell into the rhythm and became accustomed to the outdoor terrain.
My first experience at the yoga festival was immensely humbling. Twenty sun salutations in, I sat…