July 23, 2012

Day One at San Diego Yoga Journal Conference.

Shay Dewey

Last weekend was the first Yoga Journal conference hosted in San Diego.

Since I live here and didn’t have to travel for the conference, it was especially nice. I always feel guilty for traveling away from San Diego in the summer because it’s like a paradise here with the sunny 70 degree weather every day.

I arrived at 7 a.m. on the first day since the website suggested giving 45 minutes to an hour for registration. Luckily, I know my way around fairly well, but I had not been to the Harbor Island Sheraton where the conference was being held. It is across the street from the airport and surrounded by the bay on three sides. The view was incredible; you could see the Coronado Bridge, navy ships and hundreds of yachts and sailboats.

Registration was easy. I simply showed my ID and they gave me a badge with my class schedule on the back. I had a hard time picking out which classes I wanted to take at the conference. There are so many talented teachers to choose from. I chose classes that would be therapeutic and gentle enough for me because I am recovering from injuries.

They gave out  a “swag” bag at the registration desk. I couldn’t believe how many samples and products there were—even a reusable water bottle and shopping bag.

I started off the day at 8:00 a.m. in meditation hour with Bhava Ram, a founder of Deep Yoga. This was one of the many community events throughout the weekend that was offered to the public.  Bhava is a local San Diego teacher (one of my favorites) and he guided the class with some simple movement. Then we sang, chanted and did  breathing exercises. He played guitar beautifully and he has a soothing voice. Bhava offered us to set an intention for the weekend.

It was a great start to the conference and I imagine it was especially helpful if you had traveled or were jet lagged. I left feeling relaxed, grounded and ready for a long day of yoga.

Next, I attended an all-day intensive: Experiential Anatomy with Judith Hanson Lasater. Judith is a yoga legend, having taught for over 30 years. She established the Iyengar Yoga Institute in San Francisco, and  holds a doctorate in East-West psychology. She is also a physical therapist and author of  many books on yoga and health.

We had lecture on anatomy and yoga. Then she  invited us to try asanas in what was a new way for many of us. For example, Tadasana, but without tucking our tailbone in or externally rotating our shoulders. The workshop lasted until 4:30 p.m. We worked on foundation poses such as Plank, Savasana and Adho Mukha Śvānāsana (Downward-Facing Dog). I found the slight anatomical adjustments that she suggested made it easier to hold poses, go deeper in asana, and they also stopped the pinching I get in my lower back and shoulders. It was nice to revisit some asanas that I sometimes take for granted. Focusing on more difficult postures just goes to show there is always room to learn and re-visit your practice.

After the class, I went to the Happy Hour in the Yoga Marketplace. Organic, vegan, bio-dynamic wine was provided for free by AUM Cellars, a family owned winery from Napa. I really can’t say enough about how good this wine was. My favorite was the Aum 2009 Dualidad Cabernet Sauvignon, but each of their wines I tried was great. Organic Valley provided cheeses and there was a food table with roasted and fresh vegetables and fruits. Also, there were non-alcoholic options like Sambazon Acai drinks and Zevia soda.

Cameron Shayne, performed a demonstration of Budokon Yoga. It is a cross of yoga and martial arts and was a beautiful and inspiring sequence.  Everyone’s attention was fixed to the stage when he performed. I have never seen anything quite like it. It was graceful, powerful and I think he jumped three feet off the ground in transitions.

All in all, an amazing first day of the conference. After 12 hours there, I decided it was time to go home; I have to prepare for a busy conference weekend.


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