I had a wonderful opportunity to attend the Minneapolis Yoga Conference recently. It was my first conference and anybody who knows me knows that new things are my kryptonite. I get major anxiety about new things which is something that I have learned to work through (a blog for another time). One of my main ways to lessen that anxiety is to learn as much as I can about what I’m doing and go fully prepared. I thought that it would be a good to share with you how I went prepared, as well as what to expect if attending a yoga conference for the first time. Of course, there will be changes from conference to conference, but there are things that are pretty universal.
If you were a Girl Scout you know that preparation is what you are supposed to do everywhere you go, but there may be some items you didn’t consider taking or a step you didn’t know existed.
-Look at the expected instructors before the day of the conference and choose which sessions seem like the best fit for you. Write them down and hold on to that paper, if you are anything like me you will forget what you even signed up for. The Minneapolis Yoga Conference (MYC) was hosted by Tula Software so it had incredibly simple interface to sign up for sessions. Your conference may have a sign-up option beforehand, or you may just go the session when you arrive. If you sign up beforehand there is nothing that says you can’t change your mind once you get there. I did for a couple of sessions. One of the afternoons I was not feeling a high intensity vinyasa session, so I listened to my body and took a meditation session instead.
-Pack your bag with EVERYTHING that you need. This is what I did because I was only there during the day. If you are staying in the hotel the conference is held or close by you may not need to be so diligent. Here is what I packed that I wouldn’t have wanted to be without:
*Toiletries to freshen up (Deodorant, Makeup, Hairbrush, Breath Mints)
*Ponytails, Bobby Pins, Headbands
*Yoga Mat Spray
*Extra Cash for Vendors
-Know what you are going to do about food. Some conferences may offer a complimentary meal, some may have an option to purchase food. Neither of these may apply so do a google maps search and see if there is something close enough to grab a bite or consider packing a lunch. I’m all about making sure I’m going to get food; it is a driving factor in my life. Make sure you will have a way to fuel yourself through the conference.
-Make sure all other responsibilities for your weekend are taken care of. It will not be worth your time or money if you are sitting in meditation thinking about what you need to make for dinner, who you need to contact about fixing the leak in your roof, or handling business situations. Figure that stuff out before, or delegate it for somebody else to handle. Conferences are about learning new things and working with people you don’t normally get to work with. This is hard to do when your focus is on everything else. I will be the first to tell you that there were moments that I looked at my phone on break and was pulled away by business, it happens. Just make sure that your attention can find its way back to the present moment.
I have only been to the one yoga conference so can only share that experience. I imagine any other yoga-based conference will be similar. If your conference was completely different let me know. I would love to hear how others are operated!
-It is an active experience. It will be more than a conversation so expect to move. Wear clothes that you will be comfortable doing yoga and/or meditation in. With that being said, it is an active experience with teachers you may not be used to. If a teacher asks you to do a pose that is not in your practice and that you are not comfortable doing, do not do it. You have no obligation to the teacher to follow their sequence ever. There is a difference in not doing something because you are afraid, and not doing something because it isn’t right for your body. In one of my sessions they had us do an assisted handstand. I have never done a handstand in my adult life and I was super afraid, but I knew that I had support and it was something I could do. In the same session they had us do an arm balance that I knew my body was not ready for, so I opted out. You can always say no to something that doesn’t serve you, this is especially true for an event that asks a lot of you mentally and physically.
-You will possibly sit on the floor more than usual. Due to the set up of the space your yoga mat is also you seat. Sitting on the floor for an extended period of time is challenging. Take a bolster, blanket, or block with you to sit on. This will lift your hips which will help take the strain off your lower back. If you would prefer a chair, ask for a chair.
-Everybody is crazy nice. I didn’t expect people to be mean, but the outpouring of kindness blew me away. I made a lot of really great connections while I was there. Go with an open heart and willingness to chat and open up. I enjoyed the sessions and everything that I learned, but the connections I made with the teachers and other attendees is what made the weekend one to remember. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed and judgmental of yourself and others but believe me when I say leave the ego at home, it will make the experience. Nobody is there to makes judgements of you so don’t make judgements of yourself. Enjoy your time, learn as much as you can, and make connections.
In the end there is only so much I can prepare you for. The experience will be what you make of it. If you ask me, I say go if you have the opportunity. Work with instructors you don’t normally get to work with, talk to people you would otherwise not have met, try something new that you never thought you would try. The Minneapolis Yoga Conference was a safe space for me to grow and evolve as a yogi and a person. That is pretty damn magical.
My MYC 2019 Schedule and Instructors
Opening Ceremonies- Faith Hunter
Energy Medicine Yoga: The Basics- Lauren Walker
Exploration of Sound and Resonance- Calley Bliss
Yoga for Equanimity: Steadiness and Ease in Turbulent Times- Ben Vincent
Embody Love: A Transformational Program for ALL Women- Tiffany Denny
The Art of Conscious Creation- Kristi Taylor
The Art of Making Time: Untying the Knots that Keep Us Bound- Carly Brown
Developing a Self Practice- Rhiannon Kirby
Closing Ceremonies- Kristi Taylor