BLOGPOST: San Diego Yoga Festival ☀️ 2017

I just got back from the San Diego Yoga Festival last night, and I am still in so much bliss — what an inspiring, challenging, transformative, wonderful weekend.

I took my first yoga class last spring and only viewed it as exercise, naively thinking it would be a fun way to burn calories. But recently, I’ve been learning more about the origins of yoga and its spiritual facets, because yoga is so much more than fitness (sidenote: western vs. eastern yoga is such an interesting discussion, but I’ll save that for another day 😜). I’ve let yoga seep into all aspects of my life, and I’ve reaped an abundance of benefits, both physically and mentally. Sometimes, I think there’s a weird misconception in American culture that yoga is exclusively for young girls in cute leggings, but it goes way beyond.

I loved how this festival’s main message was that yoga is for everyone. It is for every body. There was beautiful diversity in every single class I participated in. For example, one of my classes was taught by a 90-year-old yogi. There was even “chair yoga” for those who are limited to seated positions. It was a nurturing space with a focus on connection. I will be the first to say that I am not very “good” at yoga. I can barely touch my toes and I feel like I’m usually a pose or two behind everyone else. I’m not very flexible and I lose my balance a lot. Sometimes I even place my foot on my knee joint when I’m in tree pose (*gasp*). But I enjoy yoga so much!

One of my friends kept wanting to sit in the front row at all of our classes, which I usually try to avoid. At one of our classes, Shakti Naam Yoga, she sat in the very front and I was super hesitant because I heard it was going to be high-intensity. I sarcastically joked and told her I wasn’t “front row worthy” and as soon as the words left my mouth, the people around me were like, “What?! You’re amazing! Everyone is amazing!” It was such a silly moment, but it struck me how the most experienced yogis were compassionate and supportive and inclusive. After that, I stopped being so self-critical and simply decided to enjoy my progress.

In addition to traditional yoga classes, there were also really unique class offerings. My favorites were Doga (yoga with your dog), ChocoVinyasa (chocolate tasting and yoga), and NamaSkate (yoga on a skateboard). The festival also had bonfires every night on the beach, sound healings, guided meditations, ecstatic dance, and so much more that I wish I could have fit into my schedule.

One of the best sessions I participated in was a workshop on self-love. The yogi running the class (who also happens to be co-creator of the San Diego Yoga Festival), Shawna Schenk, told us to think about the best relationship of our life. I immediately started going through a mental rolodex of all the people who are important to me: my mom, my sisters, close friends, etc.

But then she said something that completely shifted my thinking: “The best relationship in your life should be with yourself,” and that statement resonated so deeply to me. Instead of looking within, we’re constantly seeking love from outside sources. In addition to learning yoga poses, mudras, and breathing techniques, she performed a symbolic marriage ceremony. She gave us all a blue string to tie around our ring finger and encouraged us to set a vow for ourselves. It was such a beautiful afternoon and made me reflect on how I treat myself. After all, I am with myself ~forever~. This body is my home, so loving myself and being my own source for joy, should be a priority.

The festival itself was held in Ocean Beach, a neighborhood in San Diego. My experiences in San Diego are far and few between. I went to a One Direction concert in the summer of 2015 – when I first moved to LA – but didn’t see anything besides the Kauffman Center. Also, five years ago I was in San Diego for a book signing with Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Throwback // My sisters and I really liked Dog the Bounty Hunter in 2012.

This time around, since I wasn’t going to a One Direction concert or meeting Dog the Bounty Hunter (😂), I wanted to play tourist and explore the city. I learned that San Diego is an awesome place.

Ocean Beach was a really cool area and reminded me of the towns I came across in Hawaii. On Wednesday night I went to a farmer’s market on Ocean Beach’s Newport Avenue, and it felt like I was back in Hawaii at Uncle Robert’s Farmer’s Market (shout out to my friends in Pahoa, HI). One of the highlights in Ocean Beach was a music store called Cow Records. I found KC and the Sunshine Band vinyl, which made me extremely happy.

I was primarily in Ocean Beach because of the festival, but I was staying in downtown near Balboa Park. I spent an entire day there, visiting museums, walking around gardens (the Japanese Friendship Garden was amazing), and laying under the trees.

This trip was also my very first time Couchsurfing! If you’re not familiar with Couchsurfing, it’s a website where you can meet travelers and hosts in cities all across the world. I connected with two different hosts in San Diego. Staying with locals was a unique experience that I would absolutely do again. I was a little apprehensive at first, because it forced me outside my comfort zone. Sharing space with strangers can be daunting – but I’m so glad I did it. When was the last time you did something slightly bizarre?

Anyways, thanks for reading my little reflection on the weekend! If you want to learn more about the San Diego Yoga Festival, visit their website or Facebook page. This was the very first year the festival was held, and I’m hoping it will continue again next year because my time there was invaluable. Can’t wait to do more learning and growing and traveling in 2017…