On Saturday, June 2, I headed up to Harlem for the second annual SoulFest! If you don't know, SoulFest is a day long yoga festival, sponsored by Land Yoga and NY Yoga + Life magazine. There are lots of yoga festivals around, but what makes SoulFest unique is that it celebrates and encourages diversity. For yogis of color, this Latina included, the importance of seeing ourselves reflected, represented and celebrated can not be understated. Which is not to say that non POCs are excluded- everyone is welcome to come, hang out and do some awesome yoga!
I must confess that I didn't stay the whole day. Mama, it was hot AF that day- which was the complete opposite of last year's which was frozen and rainy! This year, it was super fancy- tents and tons of sponsors, which was awesome and a testament to Lara Land for building it up so much in just one year. But it was steamy out- a real NYC summer day.
The first of the two classes I went to was with the always amazing Faith Hunter (@spirituallyfly on IG- follow her). Faith is a beautiful soul. I've taken her class a few times before- last year at SoulFest and also at the Brooklyn Museum's Art of Yoga, and I can't say enough about how great a teacher she is. This year, she invited us all to begin class by invoking our ancestors. She talked about being from Louisiana and being from a 'gumbo' of different people. I had been feeling out of sorts the week leading up to SoulFest- feeling a bit down and lonelier than I realized- because when Faith said to think about the people who made us, who paved the way for us, and specifically said 'think about your grandmothers'- I could feel big, fat tears running down my face. In that moment, I missed my abuela so so much but I could feel her presence and her love all around me and deep in my heart. Faith asked us to say those ancestors' names' aloud to recognize them, to call on them and as I said those names- Lilia, Honorato, Ramon, Georgina- the grandparents that have left the body but not my heart- I felt that love and connection. I appreciate Faith so much for manifesting that for all of us. A truly beautiful practice followed . I had to stop her later and thank her. Love you, Faith!
in between classes, my sister, Debbie, and my friend, Rebecca and I went around to all the sponsors. There was a lot of awesome coffee drinks and protein bars (live for my bars) plus the Rubin Museum (thanks for the tote bags!) and the Setu booth where I got my picture taken, some awesome stickers and a journal, plus got to meet founder, Libby who was lovely (hey Libby!) Then it was time for the main attraction (for me anyway).
This beautiful, inspirational, hilarious, and real woman: Jessamyn Stanley (@mynameisjessamyn). When I tell you, I rarely feel fan-girly towards people when I see or meet them- I mean, I'm from NYC- I've seen a million celebrities- but when it's someone I deeply admire? I think you can tell how happy I was to meet her! I had to tell her how much I loved her book- Every Body Yoga- and how reading it was like she was telling me my life. From the body weight issues and the feeling out of place in so many ways- Jessamyn told the truth of my life for sure. And there were so many women there who felt the same. We were all in awe of her but she's so real. She's said on her IG that she's not trying to be a role model or anything, but when someone takes the charge to say "You're ok exactly how you are"- well, when that hits, you can't help but look up to that person. Love you mama!
And her class? Gorgeous.
It was a beautiful slow flow. She invited everyone to do their yoga- whatever that looks like for them, letting people know that they have to move and be in their body as it was that day. And it doesn't have to look like anyone else's. Also, she has my heart forever for referencing Juvenile's Back That Ass Up. <3 <3
All in all, it was a great day and can't wait til next year's. Thanks to all the people who made it such a great event.
Here are some random shots: