Whether you are an experienced yogi or a beginner eager to find inner peace, Zenscape Yoga & Arts Festival in Calverton aims to provide a day full of positive vibes, self-exploration and empowerment.
The first Zenscape festival will be Saturday, Aug. 18, offering workshops in yoga, arts and health.
“The whole idea for the festival is to create your own day and explore yourself with options that you might not find at a traditional studio,” says Hauppauge resident and festival co-creator Jennifer Eagen, 29. “The day is meant to create a sense of personal betterment, development and a positive platform for people to discover yoga, but also other health-minded activities.”
All workshops offered, such as Paddleboard Yoga, Green Living and Lotus in Watercolor, must be scheduled in advance, and “you’re there to just explore,” Eagen says. She said the idea of Zenscape is about finding landscapes that instill a sense of inner peace. “There’s an element of negativity in the tumultuous time we’re living in and we [Dean Del Prete of Westhampton and festival co-creator] wanted to create a refuge for people to learn about themselves and turn within.”
Keith Mitchell, a former NFL linebacker, is the event’s headliner. He was once paralyzed after breaking his neck in 2003 while playing for the Jacksonville Jaguars, but through rehab, meditation and yoga was able to regain his strength and ability to walk, and yoga became his passion, he says.
“There’s a huge disconnect in sports — an inability to connect to others and ourselves, and we as a society are suffering from that,” Mitchell says. “I am trying to have people realizing the malnourishment of human connection and how precious and vital it is to our existence.”
At the festival, Mitchell will host a Unity Yoga and Empowerment Within workshop. Mitchell says the festival will allow all people to enjoy each other, be present in the moment and have a new experience. “I create a space for someone who would not typically be open to yoga, giving those an opportunity to try something different — a transformative experience,” Mitchell says.
Kelly Hinshaw, 26, of Levittown, will be “taking fitness to new heights,” leading the Aerial Yoga workshop, involving the use of a hammock to get into intricate poses.
“People should register for the aerial yoga workshop because it is a new take on an old and beautiful practice. It gives the sense of lightness, all the while keeping us grounded,” Hinshaw says. The class is perfect for the yogi hoping to “improve mat practice by using the hammock to get the body into poses with a little extra support,” Hinshaw says.
From learning zero compression inversions to flips and tricks, students will strengthen and stretch their muscles in the air. A guided meditation will wrap up the class. Aerial yoga not only elongates the spine, but also improves upper body strength while swinging, she says.
“Turning the world upside down in a fun and supportive way really affects how a person views the world around them and to me that is yoga,” Hinshaw says.
DHARMA YOGA WHEEL
New York natives Dov Vargas (Yogi Varuna) and Raquel Vamos (Leela Om) founded Dharma Yoga Wheel to “help people heal.” The founders will host the Open Your Heart With Dharma Yoga Wheel workshop at the festival, where they’ll teach students backbends, balancing poses and upside-down inversions.
“People should register for this workshop because of the benefits it will bring the body,” Vargas says.
If yoga is too intense, this workshop is the best bet. The wheel will stretch your shoulders, hip flexors and more. “We have shared this wheel around the world,” Vargas says. “But nothing feels better then sharing it with our home and spreading this amazing tool to individuals who need help opening their hearts and bodies.”
Eugene Feis, 50, of West Babylon, and Regina McGowan, 41, of Central Islip, will co-host the acro-yoga workshop, teaching partnered pairs yoga, acrobatics, Thai massage techniques and the importance of communication. “People will learn how the power of an aligned body makes the practice of partner yoga more accessible to all body types and skill levels,” Feis says.
Participants will also be taught the proper alignment for basing such as holding, flying and spotting a partner on their hands, knees or feet. “I am excited to share my passion for both yoga and acro-yoga in a local festival setting,” Feis says.
EMPOWERMENT ACRO FOR WOMEN
At the festival, Donna Squires, 51, will host the Empowered Acro for Women workshop. Aside from teaching the fundamentals of acro-yoga, she strives to foster a positive experience for women, leaving them feeling empowered and strong. “I don’t want to give away all my class secrets, but women can expect to be lifted, literally, to new heights, and all beauties will become beasts,” Squires says.
Squires, who says she has a history of living with abuse, found acro-yoga, which taught her the “cultivation of trust and safe touch” that she hopes to teach workshop participants.