PORTLAND, Maine — Portland is rolling out the yoga mat this weekend to welcome hundreds of practitioners to a statewide yoga festival.
Yogis will converge July 13-14 at the East End Community School and East End Beach for two days of instruction, lectures, music and food at the inaugural Maine YogaFest. More than 30 local yoga instructors and 35 studios have partnered to create a weekend of events celebrating various styles of the Eastern practice dedicated to harmony of the mind, body and spirit.
Some events already have sold out, including aerial and paddleboard yoga classes and a “Your Brain on Yoga” lecture. The festival will cater to a range of abilities, from those who’ve never uttered a “namaste” to experienced yogis looking to sample a new style, according to event co-founder Justine Carlisle.
“I think we have a little bit for everybody,” she said. “We have some of the very traditional styles like Ashtanga and Bikram. If you wanted to try something completely new you that you haven’t tried before, this is a great opportunity.”
Most of the classes are designed for students of all levels, Carlisle said.
“Even if you’ve never taken yoga before, come in,” she said. “It’s a great place to test and see what you like.”
The festival’s lineup kicks off at 8 a.m. Saturday and runs through closing ceremonies at 3:45 p.m. Sunday. Tickets cost $90 for a three-workshop pass and $125 for a five-workshop pass, with higher last-minute rates taking effect Friday. Maine YogaFest will donate $5 from every ticket to Preble Street, a Portland nonprofit dedicated to alleviating homelessness, hunger and poverty. Each pass includes admittance to three or five 90-minute workshops, a lecture from a local health and wellness expert, and daily meditations.
The public is invited to a free party from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Saturday that will include healthy snack and juice vendors, yoga demonstrations, complimentary massages, kids’ activities and live music by Portland singer-songwriter Amy Allen. The night will culminate with a fire hooping performance.
So far, about 350 people are ticketed for classes, Carlisle said Wednesday as she worked to tie up loose ends before the event’s launch. Carlisle, a marketing and public relations professional, took up yoga after a nagging running injury refused to heal. While the practice helped her body, Carlisle also found it alleviated her tension as she and her husband navigated the stressful process of adopting a child, she said.
“I got hooked,” Carlisle said.
Last year, Carlisle and Maine YogaFest co-founders Dana Woodbury and Regan Johnson traveled to a national yoga festival in Vermont. Similar events were popping up all over the country, but hadn’t yet taken hold in the Northeast, she said. Excited to share their passion for yoga with other devotees but less enthused about the five-hour drive, the three women were inspired to launch their own festival closer to home.
With Carlisle’s marketing background, Woodbury’s experience in recruiting and Johnson’s skills in event logistics, the three women would set out to create an event that showcased Maine’s talented yoga professionals.
“The whole time we kept thinking, ‘Why is there not anything like this in Maine?’ because we have such a great yoga community here,” said Carlisle, now a certified yoga instructor.
For information about Maine YogaFest or to buy tickets, visit maineyogafest.com.