Dozens of people practice acro yoga in Saratoga Park in Ocean Beach on Wednesday evenings throughout the year. / PHOTO BY THOMAS MELVILLE
San Diego Yoga Festival co-founder Shawna Schenk leads a class at a festival last year.
Get ready for an influx of yoga pants, poses, and ponytails as nearly a thousand yogis will descend upon Ocean Beach during the last weekend in January for the inaugural San Diego Yoga Festival.
There will be classes on the pier, beaches, and parks, along with dozens of indoor venues for all levels – beginner to experienced – bringing a healthful vibe to the beachside community.
“San Diego is such a beautiful hub of yoga,” said Shawna Schenk, the co-founder, along with Melanie Williams, of the four-day festival. “I think it’s long overdue.”
Schenk, a self-employed yoga and reiki certification instructor, was in a meditation class at another festival in Northern California last February when the idea came to her. “It was like an hour of drumming meditation and it took me to a new space where I saw a vision of a huge yoga festival in San Diego,” she said. “When I was driving home I starting thinking about it and knew I had to do it.”
That seed of an idea has grown into an international event that will include 120 classes, 80 yoga teachers, support from 11 yoga studios, 25 sponsors and more than 40 partners to help put on the festival.
“The support has been beautiful. I’m so grateful,” Schenk said.
At first, Schenk started planning the event at a large hotel with a conference center, but that didn’t feel right. “My business partner owns a yoga studio in Ocean Beach and OB is so eclectic and so open minded – it’s got Sunset Cliffs and the longest pier on the West Coast. We could have classes indoors and outdoors – which is what San Diego is all about. It felt like the perfect place for it,” she said. “We’re a grassroots business – so if we make any money from this let’s give it back to the community instead of a big hotel chain. It felt more natural and organic to support other businesses in our community,” she added.
Ocean Beach also has a variety of businesses that agreed to be involved. There will be classes at art studios, beer tasting and wine tasting rooms, along with surf and skateboard lessons. The festival even received permits to hold classes on the pier, Dog Beach (yoga with your dog) and Robb Field Skate Park (yoga on skateboards).
“We started asking businesses if they were interested and if we could use their space and it started working out,” Schenk said. “Ocean Beach is so supportive. The Town Council is one of our sponsors. People are excited to get this healthy vibe out on the streets.”
The opening ceremonies are on Friday evening on the beach with a drumming meditation. On Saturday and Sunday there will be eclectic classes throughout the day and into the evening and the closing ceremonies will be on the pier Sunday afternoon.
“Classes Friday through Sunday are more like yoga college. You can sample everything,” Schenk said. “I want people to experience all different styles and find something that works for them.”
On Monday there will be all-day classes taught by five master teachers. “They are going to teach a very specific style of yoga or class. It’s a little more intensive.”
Tickets are $44 for a one-class pass, $88 for a three-class pass, $222 for a one-day pass, and $333 for a three-day pass. “A three-day ticket gives them access to as many classes as they want,” Schenk said. “Also, we will have an area with vendors that will have free classes open to the public throughout the day.”
Attendees are expected from not only San Diego, but nationally and internationally. The International Yoga Festival in India is a sponsor, and helped market the event. There will even be a 92-year-old yoga teacher from India.
“We want to encourage everyone – from the businesspeople to the hippies – to come out. We want to expose people to healthful ways of living,” she said.
“We want more than 1,000 people in the streets doing yoga. We want to make it a movement and get the energy high.”
San Diego Yoga Festival
Where: Pier, beach, and various venues throughout OB.
When: Friday, Jan. 27 to Monday, Jan. 30.
Special offer: Use Namastoked as a promo code for $108 off the 1 and 3 day tickets.