The vibes couldn’t have been better at the Soulshine Yoga and Music Festival Friday. The traveling festival, presented by Essentia Water, brought together all things happy: music, yoga, sun, and dancing.
The afternoon festival at The Blue Hills Bank Pavilion featured a yoga class (with the occasional dance party between poses) on the water taught by renown yoga instructors Claudine and Honza Lafond. The class was set to live acoustic music by top-40 artist and yogi Michael Franti.
The idea for the festival came after Michael Franti and Spearhead (Franti’s band) began inviting people to practice yoga during their sound checks before concerts. It started with just five or 10 people at each soundcheck, Franti explained, but when attendance grew to over a thousand, Franti decided to make it an official part of his tour this summer.
As a yogi myself, I’m always interested in learning about people’s yoga experiences, so I got to the festival a little early to talk with Franti about why he practices. His yoga journey began 13 years ago, the day after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center. The class uplifted him during such a difficult time and now he practices every day, taking classes at local studios while on tour (O2 Yoga is his favorite Boston studio), and he runs his own yoga retreat center in Bali.
“Yoga has extended my health,’’ Franti said. “But it has emotional benefits too. It’s helped me be a better father, a better musician.’’
Aside from shivasana (everyone’s favorite pose, let’s be honest), Franti likes inversions and headstands.
“If I’ve had a really busy day and I know I need to just get on stage and do it, I’ll spend a few minutes doing some headstands right before,’’ Franti said. “It grounds me and gives me energy.’’
Franti wasn’t the only star at the festival though, the Lafond couple had their fair share of yogi groupies, too. Understandably so, I mean look at this picture:
The couple is best known for their AcroYoga practice, an acrobatic form of yoga that involves “flying people’’ or literally taking them off their feet.
“I guess we’re known for giving people an experience of what is possible,’’ Claudine said. “The meaning of flying is important because it gives a feeling of freedom, joy, and vulnerability. The other side of it is important, too, it gives a feeling of lacking of control, surrender, and trust.’’
After an unbelievable AcroYoga show, Claudine and Honza actually instructed us through some beginner AcroYoga poses during the class. They had us introduce ourselves to our mat neighbors and walked us through the most basic flying pose, the airplane (like that game little kids play in the living room with their parents).
This was one of the most powerful moments of the festival for me, seeing complete strangers support each other through such a powerful and vulnerable experience.
As cheesy as it sounds, I haven’t felt as alive as I did at the festival in years. The positive energy brought back feelings of pure joy and happiness that have become unfamiliar as I’ve grown older. I’m already googling AcroYoga classes and other yoga festivals I can go to. Can’t wait for my next one!