Scott Barbey, Lorraine Popowitz, Gina Solomon and Giovanna Caggiano, participants...

Scott Barbey, Lorraine Popowitz, Gina Solomon and Giovanna Caggiano, participants in a yoga class called Rock N Slow Flow Yoga with Jason, at Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen Cove on May 26. Credit: Linda Rosier

Jason Samel’s vision for a Long Island Yoga Festival started during the pandemic when he was feeling anything but Zen.

“I went through a really tough breakdown, like a lot of people,” he says of that time of isolation. “I fell into a really very difficult depression.”

What helped him, he says, was visiting Harry Tappen Beach in Glenwood Landing. “I just started rising my arms up in the sky, sort of catching a prayer above my head, and then bringing them to my heart while I was breathing in and out,” he says. “It wasn’t exactly yoga, but it was something like that. It brought this overwhelming feeling of happiness and connectivity between me and nature and the things around me.”

Jason Samel, owner of Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen...

Jason Samel, owner of Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen Cove, sits in the lounge area of the studio on May 26. Credit: Linda Rosier

That led Samel, 46, of Old Brookville, to become a yoga instructor in 2021, to open Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen Cove in 2022, and now, to launch an inaugural Long Island Yoga Festival, which he hopes to make an annual event that merges a music festival atmosphere with the mindfulness of a yoga retreat. He envisions, he says, “a really cool funky, fun, festive atmosphere.”

VARIETY OF YOGIS TO TEACH

Students Gina Solomon and Jeff Pliskin follow Buddha Jams Yoga...

Students Gina Solomon and Jeff Pliskin follow Buddha Jams Yoga instructor Jason Samel through yoga poses on May 26 in Glen Cove. Credit: Linda Rosier

The three-day event kicks off at 4:30 p.m. June 21 — which is the International Day of Yoga — with a free yoga session open to the public on Harry Tappen Beach during which participants will perform 108 sun salutations, a meditative tradition often performed on solstices. There will also be a drum circle.

The next two days will include spots for up to 70 people to buy day or festival-long yoga session passes and about 150 people to attend concerts on Friday and Saturday and Sunday evenings.

Aside from the Tappan Beach event, the festival will be held indoors and on the grounds of Samel’s Buddha Jams studio.

Jason Samel, owner of Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen...

Jason Samel, owner of Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen Cove, and student Lorraine Popowitz, during a class on May 26. Credit: Linda Rosier

Yogis from studios across Long Island and Manhattan will lead sessions, Samel says. They are scheduled to include, for instance, Colleen Saidman Yee, owner of the Yoga Shanti studio in Sag Harbor, and Rodney Yee; Alan Finger and Sara Platt-Finger, co-founders of ISHTA Yoga in Manhattan; Matt Giordano, also known as TheYogiMatt, originally from Sea Cliff; and Gail Grossman, founder of the now-shuttered Om Sweet Om studio in Port Washington.

There will also be meditation workshops, drum circles and more for participants, who must purchase tickets in advance online. Craft vendors will be selling clothing jewelry, yoga gear and more. 

Entertainment includes Nina Rao on Friday evening performing kirtan and traditional chants, DJ Taz Rashid leading a Saturday night dance party and Milard Roper on Sunday evening leading another kirtan session.

'SENSE OF COMMUNITY'

Scott Barbey, Lorraine Popowitz, and Gina Solomon, participants in a...

Scott Barbey, Lorraine Popowitz, and Gina Solomon, participants in a yoga class called Rock N Slow Flow Yoga with Jason, at Buddha Jams Yoga studio in Glen Cove on May 26. Credit: Linda Rosier

“It gives people the opportunity to explore different styles of yoga,” says Platt-Finger, who will lead a session with her husband from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. on June 22. “In a music festival, you get to take in different types of music and enjoy the artistry. It’s the same with yoga. You get to experience different styles of yoga.” She says it also allows people to gather with like-minded people and feel a sense of community.

Platt-Finger, who grew up in Glen Head, says she’s happy to “come full circle” by offering her style of yoga and meditation and “some of these transformative practices that have changed my life.” She says yoga helps her “feel more centered in myself and in my body.”

Samel, who lives with his wife, veterinarian Sheila Delijani, and their two children, Micah, 12, and Gabriel, 8, says he was an unlikely yoga advocate whose previous forays into yoga included being “dragged” to sessions by Delijani.

“I was a fat guy who was breathing really heavy…and couldn’t touch his toes and couldn’t stand being there,” he says. Now, he says, yoga helped him lose weight and helped improve his marriage. He even wrote a song about yoga called “Heads Bow Down” that he plans to release in conjunction with the festival. “I want people to get as excited about yoga as I am,” he says.

Long Island Yoga Festival

WHEN | WHERE June 21-23 at Buddha Jams Yoga in Glen Cove, 192 Glen St., Glen Cove

COST Friday afternoon kickoff free at Harry Tappen Beach on Shore Road in Glenwood Landing; Saturday or Sunday pass $199 each; weekend pass $299. Evening musical events Friday and Saturday $35 each (musical events included with weekend passes).

MORE INFO 516-548-7168, longislandyogafestival.com, tickets must be purchased in advance.

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