Things to expect at a yoga and tantra festival

Photo by  Nicole Honeywill  on  Unsplash

Festival season is here! And I finally, at the age of 35, made it to my very first one - the Spirit of Nature festival, close to Nuremberg. It was a truly wonderful, eye-opening experience that has left me wide open and inspired to the things I’ve been putting off due to fear. I plan to go to many, many more. If you’re considering going to one too, here are some insights from my experience that I kind of wish I’d known beforehand.

Disclaimer: This was my first festival, so I don’t claim to be an expert. That being said, an experience is an experience, no matter how many times its been had. 

You might not do as much yoga as you think

When I saw the schedule I was seriously overwhelmed, in a good way. Budokon, tantric hatha, kundalini, shamanic prana flow, ashtanga, yin - pretty much all variations of yoga asana practice were on the programme and I wanted to do them ALL. I had in mind doing maybe 3 or even 4 classes in a day to try them all…and that’s not including the workshops. Do you know how much time I spent on my mat in asana practice over the whole 4 days?

20 minutes. 

Of my own practice. Yep, you read that right. I took myself off to a quiet corner the morning after a particularly intense workshop and moved my body the way it wanted to be moved. No plan, no structure. One of my biggest take aways from the weekend was to expect the unexpected and try not to plan things too rigidly.

Be open to new experiences

So what did I do if I wasn’t doing asana? I attended hours of tantra workshops, womb cleansing ceremonies, dancing ecstatically and most of all, I let myself go with the flow. On the last full festival day, I literally sat in the same 30 square metre area all day, floating from conversation to conversation, connecting with people without any schedule in mind. There’s a certain freedom that comes with not having to be in a specific place at a specific time - that’s why we go on holidays in the first place, right?! So be prepared to throw the plan out of the window and be open to receiving whatever comes along in the moment.

Be intentional

If you’re going to a music festival, you could maybe get away with just being there to be there (I imagine). But going to a gathering of yoga, meditation, tantra etc, requires you to go in with full intention. There were many things that pushed my comfort zone, especially with regards to tantra (and no, I don’t mean anything remotely sexual, but instead really being seen by somebody I have never met before). There were times in ecstatic dance when I thought, ‘really?!’. But I was there for a reason and I went in, 100%. And then I found myself right in the middle of it, jumping around, feeling the music and letting go of the fear that had tried to hold me back. You have to do the work yourself. Nobody else will do it for you and the beauty of being somewhere like that is that everyone else is in the same boat! You’re there, so be there!

Keep judgements to yourself

Honestly, I underestimated the amount of healing that would be happening over the weekend (and by healing I mean releasing, letting go, tears, sobs etc). The womb cleansing ceremony was especially touching. In the end, yoga and most spiritual work is about coming back to your self and to do that, you have to get rid of the things holding you back. But, because of the word ‘festival’, I somehow had in mind that these things wouldn’t happen. They did, of course. And it was beautiful to feel held enough to let go. The last thing anyone needs in this life, and especially at a time like that, is judgement. There will be many things you’ll see, from naked mud-bathing to people hugging for twenty minutes to someone sobbing their heart out. Let them be. Let yourself be. And if something triggers a response in you, take a little time to ask why.

There is, unfortunately, something known as spiritual superiority and you may find yourself on the receiving end of judgement, as I did. I will write a separate post on this as it delves deeply into the topic of consent and is too big to put here. For now, just know that their judgement is nothing to do with you. It’s simply a reflection of themselves.

Bring the right things!

The weather forecast said 27 degrees and sunny. So that’s what I packed for. What we got was a seriously mixed bag of extreme sun and heat, heavy rain and wind, temperate drops of around 10 degrees after sunset and under 10 degrees at night. Essential things to take - at least one long pair of trousers, one long sleeved top, a fleece and gummy boots/wellies, not to mention a hat and suncream. And a mat you don’t mind getting muddy/dirty/sandy etc.

There are so many things I could say but the biggest, final point to take away for me was: we are the ones in the driving seat when it comes to life. We can invite the experiences we want to have in our lives by simply doing them. If you want to feel connected then connect. Smile at the barista who makes your coffee in the morning. Maybe even say good morning and ask how they are. We humans crave connection but our fear keeps us hidden and locked away.

We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of dreams
— Arthur O'Shaughnessy