The Telluride Yoga Fest: brief history and appraisal

The Telluride Yoga Fest: brief history and appraisal

[click to hear Lanie Demas on Telluride Yoga Festival]

WelcomeParty_12 copy In the summer of 2007, Telluride local and Jivamukti instructor Aubrey Hackman had just returned from her third yoga teacher training, a four-week intensive taught by lineage founders David Life and Sharon Gannon. Her bum wrist, the result of years of cumulative stress from hitting it hard on the mat, was really acting up. The wrist is an extension of the heart chakra, the center of emotions such as love, happiness, compassion and loving oneself in a non-egoistic way. The message came through loud and clear.

Aubrey shifted her focus from winning on and off the mat to Karma Yoga, embracing the idea of action without attachment and selfless service. In an ah haa moment, she decided her Karma yoga, her duty, was to create a yoga event as unique as our town, one that would put our best face forward to the world. A critical component of the idea was the thread that would run through the Telluride Yoga Fest and define it. “Ahimsa” is a way of behaving in the world that roughly translates to “non-cruelty” with regard to oneself, towards others and the earth. The Telluride Yoga Festival would support the green agenda the region had laid out for itself and be a zero waste event, dedicating 25% of its net profits to a local environmental non-profit. (This year the Telluride chapter of the Nature Conservancy is the beneficiary.)

Next step: Aubrey, the young visionary, needed a partner to help get her start-up off the ground. Enter Elaine Demas, a Telluride local for 17 years at the time.

Lanie Demas of the Telluride Experience is known around campus as a marketing and promotion whiz and a nuts-and-bolts kind of gal. She was also one of Aubrey Hackman’s devoted students.The two new partners asked local graphic designer Kristin Taylor, another of Aubrey’ students, to work with them and the local dream team was complete.

Aubrey Hackman’s next task was attracting top instructors, who would lend credibility and draw the traffic.

Scott Blossom was one on Yoga Journal’s list of “21 under 40” top instructors who would shape the future of Yoga in America. Turned out Telluride was on his list of places he wanted to visit with his family.

Over the years, Scott Blossom had been involved with all kinds of yoga events, big conferences and small boutique gatherings. In places as beautiful as Telluride, he was convinced a wonderful kind of alchemy would occur spontaneously and the entire town would become a yoga venue. In addition to being an instructor and therapist, Scott Blossom is highly trained in Chinese medical practitioner and Ayurvedic consultant. A premise fundamental to Ayurveda is that all living things are innately interdependent. For him, the Telluride Yoga Festival’s environmental bottom line sealed the deal. With Scott on board, Ashtanga teacher Richard Freeman and Dr. Robert Svoboda, an Ayurvedic master and Yoga philosopher,  both superstars in the yoga world, needed little convincing to join the roster. The Telluride Yoga Festival was on a roll.

To learn more about the 2nd annual Telluride Yoga event, listen to Lanie Demas’s podcast.

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