A day of perfect fall weather greeted State College’s very first Yoga Fest on Sunday. The eight-hour celebration of life, sound and color drew more than 100 community members to Millbrook Marsh.
Creators of the event, Kat Ammon and Brandi Rollins, both from Lila Yoga Studios, say the idea for the first-of-its-kind event was long in coming, but it wasn’t actually put into motion until about three months ago. Since then, they’ve been amazed at the community’s response during the planning process.
“It’s all been very organic and it’s taken on a life of its own, as more people have been interested and become a part of it,” Ammon said. “Everyone who’s reached out has offered something that fits very well and very seamlessly.”
“Everyone has been very excited about it and has said this is something that’s been needed in State College for some time,” she added.
All of the instructors, vendors and musicians at the event were from the area, and a portion of the proceeds were donated to Millbrook Marsh. However, while a large component of the event was providing a network for locals within the yoga community, with many instructors attending, it hardly attracted just the professionals and long-time yogis.
“There are yoga teachers, those who just practice and those who are beginners and just interested in yoga. So we’re targeting everyone, because even those who are interested in yoga are part of the yoga community. It includes even the people who are just interested in having yoga in their lives,” Rollins said.
The day included yoga workshops (including one huge group class), a vegan and vegetarian potluck, drum circle and dance party. As part of the event’s theme of sound and color, live music from local musicians made an appearance throughout the day.
Attendees agreed Yoga Fest is unique and just what the State College yoga scene needed.
Volunteer Ella Lundquist found the variety of studios and types of yoga represented was one of the best parts of the festival, particularly for those looking to find their place in the yoga community.
“(Yoga Fest) is really unique because it has so many aspects of yoga incorporated …” said Lundquist, a senior at Penn State. “So we have a lot of meditation and breath work, but also hoop dancing, acroyoga and contact improvisation, which are really unique things you won’t find at a lot of yoga studios and workshops. … It’s a good range … (and) a really good introduction for people haven’t tried yogabefore. They can see all the different types of things yoga offers.”
Jillian Seraphin, a teacher trainee at Lila Yoga Studios who just recently moved to State College, was just as impressed by the practices offered. “I’ve always been interested in how the body works on every level, not just the physical, but also the spiritual and mental, and how those things affect the body and that’s why I got into yoga,” she said. “I was listening in on the community class, and Brandi (Rollins) started it out. … The opener was a sound healing, and that’s actually really cool. Not many places offer sound healing — that it’s in State College, that’s awesome.”
“I’ve lived in this town since I’ve been aware of yoga, for the past 12 years. … In (State College), there are a lot of yoga studios springing up and this is the first time that multiple yoga studios have come together under one roof …” added Kerri Zelman, instructor at TriYoga.
Like many at the event, Zelman’s passion for not only yoga, but the yoga community, was apparent. “When you join a class or join a studio, you become part of a community of welcoming people who want to help you …” she said.
One thing is clear — the event is certainly a success, and those interested can look out for it again next year.
“I think before it even happened, it was a success …” Rollins said. “It’s too good to not do it again.”