What to Expect at the Nantucket Yoga Festival

Attendees practice yoga at the 2013 annual Nantucket Yoga Festival.
Attendees practice yoga at the 2013 annual Nantucket Yoga Festival.
Rachel Fabiszak Photography

If you’re already wondering where the summer is going, you’re not alone. Perhaps it’s time for a little recharge. The Nantucket Yoga Festival this summer seems like the perfect time and place for Bostonians to get away, find some stillness, enjoy the sunshine, and focus on wellness.

This weekend, from Friday, July 11 to Sunday, July 13, join more than 300 participants and instructors for a retreat that’s welcoming to all experience levels, from beginner to veteran yogi. The festival offers classes on a range of topics, from vinyasa to “Joyful Backbends” to morning meditation classes on the beach.

In anticipation of the event, Boston.com caught up with local Boston yoga instructor Rebecca Pacheco (also known as OmGal), who is one of the Equinox instructors teaching at this year’s festival.

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What’s so special about a yoga festival?

According to Pacheco, people seek out yoga retreats or festivals “to elevate their practice in some light.” For beginners, a festival or retreat is a great way to get a submersive experience in a supportive environment, she says. “If you’re a regular practitioner, it really takes your practice to the next level. You’ll learn new things you want to try, or try different styles that a typical class won’t let you explore as much.”

From New York Times-bestselling author and instructor Gabrielle Bernstein to local instructors like Sara DiVello, Larisa Forman, and David Vendetti, even super experienced yogis are likely to find a class or instructor that challenges and interests them.

“The location is really fun. It’s exciting to do a practice that’s so healthy for your mind and body both physically and mentally in a place that’s so beautiful. The Nantucket Yoga Festival is a great example,” said Pacheco. “It couldn’t be more picturesque and it isn’t so far away to get to Nantucket.”

A yoga festival requires less commitment than a retreat, which often involves one instructor for a longer period of time, like a week. “At a festival, you get a little bit of everything, also, so you’re not just committed to one style or one teacher, and you can choose which can be really fun for students of all levels,” said Pacheco.

Do I need to train before I go?

“Come as you are,” said Pacheco. “If you predict you’re going to take advanced classes, it’s a good idea to maintain regular practice and ultimately keep your body safe. Yoga is a physical activity, and a form of exercise, so it’s important to warm up appropriately, listen to your body, and make sure you aren’t doing too much too soon.”

To get warmed up, check out some of the these Boston.com yoga videos:

Yoga Positions for Better Sleep
Yoga Moves for Busy Moms
Yoga to Relieve Work Stress

What is it like doing yoga outside?

“Doing yoga outside is a special experience, especially for Bostonians who don’t have the luxury of doing outdoor yoga all months of the year,” said Pacheco. “So it’s nice in the summer months to really take advantage.”

This summer, Pacheco is teaching a class on the roof top pool of The Colonnade Hotel every Wednesday morning. “We feel like we’re on vacation in our own city just for an hour,” she said. “There’s blue sky instead of looking at a studio ceiling, and instead of breathing air indoors, you’re breathing fresh air outdoors.”

What should I pack?

Do bring: Layers, sunglasses, sunblock, workout clothes, little blanket, and you’re yoga mat. The festival does have matts available for purchase, but organizers suggest that students bring their own, as well as any props such as yoga blocks or belts.

“Sunglasses aren’t ideal, but if it is very sunny, you’ll want them,” said Pacheco.

Pacheco also suggests some special items in order to bring memories from the festival back with you. “Bring a journal, because you will learn things you want to remember,” she said. “It’s also nice to bring a favorite scent. Scent is one of our strongest senses, and it’s strongly tied to memory, so it could always reminds you of your Nantucket yoga experience. As you’re darting to and from classes, a natural and nice scent could also help you freshen up.”

Don’t bring: Uncomfortable shoes, too much makeup, fancy clothes, work phone, or worries.

“Leave behind worries and self judgement. This is a great opportunity to turn off and unplug,” said Pacheco. “Instead, plug into yourself and recharge.”

Pacheco is teaching her first festival session, Om Athlete, on Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. Her class will be athletic, vinyasa-based practice, which emphasizes injury prevention, refined core muscles, stretching muscles commonly used in sports and fitness, as well as boosting mental clarity to improve athletic performance.

Learn more about the Nantucket Yoga Festival, including the class schedule and tips to find lodging, at www.NantucketYogaFestival.com.


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