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Yogi Fair

Local yoga instructors come together to offer a charitable “sampler” event.



Contrary to popular belief, not all yoga is created equal. It is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor, and sometimes it takes a bit of experimentation to find the variation that best suits you. Although there are some similarities between the various forms of yoga, contorting oneself into a methodical series of deep stretches in 105 degree heat in a Bikram class is a far cry from sitting stationary on a mat and taking a series of deep breaths in a Kundalini class.


In December 2005, dancer, choreographer and yoga instructor Stephen Brown identified the need for a sampler event that showcased different styles of yoga. He felt that yoga novices and devotees alike could benefit from exposure to new methods.


On a whim, Brown organized a charitable event'all proceeds were donated to a nonprofit organization that aided disadvantaged kids'that he dubbed Yogis Give Back. He accepted donations at the door and invited several highly respected teachers from different local yoga studios to conduct a giant class. The turnout was so massive that Brown had to turn people away. “I don’t exactly know how to describe the atmosphere,” he says, “It’s probably the closest you can get to a yoga rave.nn

Last year’s “yoga rave” was so successful, Brown decided to do it again'this time in a larger space, with a bit more publicity beforehand. This year’s Yogis Give Back proceeds ($20 is the suggested donation) will benefit the Hope Center, a nonprofit organization that offers support to abused and neglected children who do not receive other forms of public or private support.


Adam Ballenger of Yoga Space Studio, one of the “star” teachers who participated last year, supports Brown’s yoga rave thesis. “The energy of the group was just awesome. It was quite an experience. There’s nothing like leading a class that large for just a few moments.nn

Brown admits that aside from showcasing different styles of yoga, Yogis Give Back is also an opportunity for some in the yoga community to put aside their differences. Although yoga is steeped in a philosophical tradition that embraces unity, serenity and mental peace, local studio owners'regardless of the style of yoga they offer'are not entirely immune to a bit of classic Western business competition in Utah’s rapidly expanding yoga marketplace.


“Look,” Brown says with a slight laugh, “It’s not like a Coke vs. Pepsi type of competition. … It’s more a matter of everyone being able to pay their teachers and keep their studios up and running. But paying for a yoga class is a strange thing, if you really think about it. Yoga as a business barely stands up to analysis.nn

Dana Baptiste'owner of Centered City Yoga and one of this year’s Yogis Give Back teachers'acknowledges that there is some degree of competition among local studios. But she always welcomes the chance to put petty differences aside to work with other teachers and studio owners. Baptiste believes that the only substantial business threat is instructors who teach sub-par yoga classes, because bad yoga turns people off. “High-quality yoga gets people excited about yoga in general, and then they want to do more of it. So an event like Yogis Give Back benefits everyone,” she explains.


“Yogis Give Back is the best yoga taster’s menu around,” says Brown. “There’s a big chance that you might take a look at one of these instructors, and what they’re doing, and say ‘Wow, that’s amazing, that’s just what I need.’nn

Brown believes that a bit of yoga snobbery'those who believe that one discipline is superior to another'is inevitable. “Anybody who does anything forms a picture of the world that justifies our actions … that our way of doing things is somehow the best way. There’s nothing wrong with being willing to revise your thinking every once in a while and be open to change.nn

nRose Wagner Center Black Box Theater
n138 W. 300 South
nSaturday, Dec. 2
n9:30 a.m.-12 p.m.

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