Sometimes, the difference between being completely frustrated and defeated by a yoga pose and finding your strength and inner calm while practicing can be something as simple as adjusting the hips, resetting the gaze or maybe even widening your stance. But this isn't always obvious, especially when you're in a busy yoga class or alone with a favorite DVD routine. That's why all yogis, regardless of experience level, should make it a point to consult others on the practice. This month's Yoga Journal Grand Geneva conference, March 26-29 in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, provides the perfect opportunity.
Sponsored by Yoga Journal magazine, the conference is a smorgasbord of all things yoga, with over 100 class offerings. "The conference has something for everyone," says Elana Maggal, the conference director. "You can study with some of the world's greatest teachers, take our Business of Yoga workshop if you're a studio owner or are thinking of starting your own business, there are keynote speakers and special events. It really gives a taste of everything yoga."
Attendees can pick a day or come for the entire weekend. Thursday and Friday feature all-day intensive sessions, like "Creating a Home Practice" with Yoga Journal's staff instructor, Jason Crandell. The main conference takes place on Saturday and Sunday; attendees choose three two-hour workshops each day. Topics range from meditation and easing into backbends to advanced vinyasa flow with yogini Seane Corn.
For those that are completely new to yoga, there's the beginner's conference, five pre-selected classes that go over everything from the sun salutations to beginner's anatomy and meditation to a discussion workshop that aims to explain why someone should practice yoga.
Rodney Yee, arguably one of the most recognizable yoga instructors in America, will speak on Friday at 7:30 p.m.; on Saturday at 1:30 p.m., Dr. James Gordon, the director of alternative and complementary medicine for the Clinton administration, delivers a speech on using mind-body medicine to help with depression and anxiety. Add in the gorgeous surroundings of the Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, a four-diamond hotel with a full service spa, pools, walking trails, horseback riding, indoor/outdoor tennis courts and access to an indoor/outdoor waterpark and all the tourist thrills of Lake Geneva, and this jam-packed extended weekend can feel overwhelming for even the most centered yogi.
"You really have to pace yourself," says Maggal. "Attendees get gung ho and sign up for three really heavy-duty asana (physical yoga practice) classes a day and after the second class, the change requests start coming in." She recommends mixing up physical classes with a meditation or discussion/lecture class, a food class with author and yoga enthusiast Mary Taylor or, for parents, a class on raising compassionate and flexible children. "Really honor your body and make sure you don't delve too deep. We structure the classes to make sure we're not killing anybody!"
With that said, as conference director, Maggal also wants to make sure that everyone make the most of their experience, so she recommends staying on-site at the Grand Geneva Resort, arriving early for check-in to avoid long lines, taking part in the group morning meditations and staying for the special events, like an acroyoga demonstrations from founders Jenny Sauer-Klein and Jason Nemer and the big event, Tripsichore Presents Standup Comedy vs. Yoga, a cabaret-style routine that pokes fun at yogis.
Regardless of whether you're coming to advance your practice or just learn how to find balance in tree pose, the Grand Geneva Conference provides an unlimited opportunity to strengthen your yoga practice, on and off the mat. "People say that it's literally changed their lives. They go back to their practice feeling invigorated and feeling like they've learned something new, whether that be physical or emotional, and make lifelong friends," says Maggal. "The opportunity to study with these teachers, the community, the opportunity to be around like-minded people and all the special events make this event a transformational experience."
The Yoga Journal Grand Geneva Conference takes place March 26-29 at the Grand Geneva Resort Spa in Lake Geneva, WI. The Beginner's Conference is $299, a day pass for Saturday or Sunday is $285, the Main Conference is $495 and a full conference pass for Thursday-Sunday is $965. Tickets for the Tripsichore comedy event can be purchased by the general public for $20. Check with your local studio for special online discount codes. Prices do not include room and board, however there may be limited opportunities for work exchange/volunteer. Visit yjevents.com. for more information.