Reflections on a Yoga Festival

I have just got home from my first ever yoga festival. The World Yoga Festival 2018 – held in Beale Park, Reading from Thursday 19th July to Sunday 22nd July.

For those who don’t know, I completed my Yoga Teacher Training nearly a year ago. When I was planning ahead to my summer I knew I wanted to go to a yoga festival. Aside from never having been to one before I also might like to teach at one in the future so thought it would be a good idea to see what happens at this kind of event! The last festival I went to was Reading and that was 10 years ago so it had been awhile!

When I was looking into different festivals I came across a couple which looked interesting to me. I also found you could volunteer at these festivals meaning you would work part-time and your ticket would be free. This sounded like a great idea to me to I signed up to both festivals and was accepted onto both. My uni exams ended up clashing with one festival unfortunately so I was not able to attend but the World Yoga Festival I was able to do! So I paid my deposit and waited for the festival to come around.

Last Thursday I packed up my bag, camping equipment and yoga mat and made my way to Reading. Volunteers needed to arrive earlier than other ticket holders to attend a briefing letting us know what we needed to know about the weekend, what our shifts and responsibilities would be and to collect our t-shirts and set up camp.

My shifts didn’t start until Friday do Thursday night I was able to enjoy a yoga class and the opening ceremony. Over the course of the weekend I did 3 5 hour shifts with a 30 minute break; we were given a food voucher for our break also. The volunteers all did different things: helping with parking, checking people in, sorting audio equipment, answering general questions. There was nothing too taxing or stressful and I actually found it pretty enjoyable. It was a great way to meet and talk to lots of people.

Aside from the shifts, the rest of the time was free for me to do as I pleased! So I was able to attend a lot of classes and talks, take time out to read by the lake, do my own practice and chat to people.

The days were long as classes and shifts started at 7am and finished at 10pm but if you were not working you could sleep in or go to bed early and just miss some classes if you wanted to.

The festival itself was great; there was such a mix of styles of yoga and types of talks. Teachers were from all over the world and were really knowledgeable and amazing in their own styles. It was great to practice with some teachers I would not otherwise be able to practice with.

Everything was so clean and organised. It all ran smoothly and everyone I spoke with was really enjoying their time at the festival. There were families, couples, groups of friends and solo attendees. There were people of all ages and races and from all different walks of life.

The festival was in its 3rd year and is run by a charity. To continue to run they need wider advertising to make sure they break even. It’s such an amazing event and everyone who has been wants it to continue. They announced at the end of the festival that they were going to put on another festival next year (18th – 21st July 2019) tickets are already on sale and I’m so excited to return again next year. If you’re looking for a really authentic, enjoyable, fun weekend full of yoga and talks and music and good food book your ticket!

Just to wrap up on my experience volunteering here are some pros and cons that I found:

Pros:

  • You meet lots of people
  • Free festival ticket
  • The work is not hard
  • Other freebies – t-shirt, food, tea and coffee

Cons:

  • May miss some talks and classes – you may luckily be put in a tent for your shift so you get to see the talk while you volunteer!
  • Might be a bit tired – when you volunteer you want to attend as many sessions as possible outside your shifts so you can easily be doing a lot without much chill time.
  • Little control over shift pattern given – this festival was really good at trying to give a varied schedule and you could swap with another volunteer if they wanted to change theirs too.
  • Little control over what jobs you are given as a volunteer.

As you can see the cons aren’t that bad and often there is a way around them! The pros certainly outweigh the cons and I really enjoyed volunteering at the festival. I would definitely recommend checking out the World Yoga Festival next year – come say hi to me if you do!

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