After Thursday’s mellow first day of Floyd Yoga Jam, Friday took off with an opening ceremony in the form of an Infinity Dance. Infinity was the theme of the eighth annual festival that focuses on community and wellness. About 200 attendees took part, chanting and weaving around a giant double circle representing the shape of the infinity symbol (an 8 on its side.)
The ceremony set the stage for creating community, said Life Ceremonies Facilitator Katherine Chantal. “It’s a way of bringing people together, centering them to be present to the energy we are creating together.” Assisted by dancer and yoga teacher Leia Jones and machi kultrun drummers, Chantal led attendees in singing an “Infinite Light” chant.
Later that day, several dance parties took place in the grass at the main stage and in the Boogie Down Dance Hall Tent. Attendees swayed or broke a sweat dancing to the tunes of Noah Proudfoot and the Botanicals, Jason Trawick and the Common Good, The Get Right Band and Satsang. One of the mottos of the festival, coined by Living Light Yoga Studio owner and festival founder Shirley Ann Burgess, is “At Yoga Jam we get you moving, whether it’s with yoga or dance.” By Saturday, dance party attendance had doubled.
The weekend scene unfolded with sunshine and starry night skies on the Turman family’s Burnette Farm, nestled among 300 acres. Campers made themselves at home with campsites along Greasy Creek, in a meadow and in the festival parking lot.
After crossing a bridge over the creek at the festival entrance, Bliss Land, where yoga classes, wellness workshops and Kid Village activities take place, is separated by a smaller bridge from Jam Land, home of a beer garden dance hall, a people’s play park and the main stage. Both areas are peppered with colorful flags and vending booths, selling food and wares.
This year’s bands came from as far away as California and were as local as Floyd. They ranged from rock, hip hop, folk, reggae and Americana to classical and devotional. At night, headliners filled the Boogie Land field with positive inspirational lyrics and melodies. During his rousing Saturday night performance, hip hopper MC Yogi engaged the crowd, threw T-shirts to them and invited guests on stage (including young Floyd musician Dylan Underwood and juggling clown Gypsy Geoff). With a light show to amaze and a mosh pit for the brave, the show concluded with MC inviting everyone on stage to dance.
New Mexico cellist, vocalist and composer Jami Seiber looped her innovative electric cello music, recited a poem and told stories in between her songs on Saturday afternoon. She spoke of the need to change unsustainable world systems and of the strength of community, a reflection that speaks to a foundational vision of Yoga Jam.
“I’m a firm believer in taking care of ourselves, and I’m hopeful that we can use times like this weekend – getting juiced up with yoga and community – and that we can take it out in the world and create the changes we want,” Seiber said from her main stage performance.
At a giant decorated LOVE sign, five women from Polarity Barn Yoga Studio in Batesville, Virginia posed for a photo together. “We come every year. This is our eighth Yoga Jam,” said Kelli Frayser. The group represented about 50 Yoga Jam attendees Frayser said, considering they all bring their families. “It’s amazing. We love the space and what’s been created here,” she added, giving kudos to Burgess.
Festival-goers agreed that MC Yogi is a rock star, both on stage and as a yoga teacher. His Saturday afternoon class, Super Yogi Blast Off, filled the Brahma Nirvana Blissland Tent capacity of 300 and spilled out onto the grass and the shaded grounds along the creek.
“Everything is humming and singing. Can you hear it?” he asked the crowd. “We’re going to come together and plug into the grid, which is nature.” He rapped some of his instructions and had the class howling like wolves. “Turn to your neighbor and give them free compliments,” he said at one point during the class.
“I’d say about 500,” Burgess estimated the draw of MC Yogi’s class. This was the first time in the festival’s eight years that Burgess was freed up enough to take a yoga class. She attributed that feat to her staff, volunteers and three helpful interns, generously provided by Yogaville, a spiritual teaching community in Buckingham, Virginia.
Floyd County local Tamara Billand said she comes to Yoga Jam for the spirituality of yoga. “I really enjoy the authenticity of the scriptures and teachings of yoga,” she said. Billand focused on two Jiva Mukti yoga teachers, Jules Febre and Ruth Laver-Manenti, whose book she was on her way to purchase at the merchandise tent. Along with Jiva Mutki and other Yoga traditions, the festival offered yoga for kids, Launch Pad Yoga, Glow Stick yoga and even Beatles Yoga.
Returning to Yoga Jam for the second time, the reggae band Mighty Joshua and Zion #5 closed out the weekend’s music offerings for a final high energy dance party. “This is what I’m talking about,” the lead singer Mighty Joshua shouted to the crowd. “One reason we were excited to come back to Floyd; it’s like a family.” He opened his vest and showed off his “Republic of Floyd” starred t-shirt.
A closing ceremony incorporated a bonfire with dancers Katie Wells and Leia Jones, music by Lobo Marino and a poetry performance by Mara Robbins. The final words of Robbins’ poem, Expiration Date, summed up the reason many come to Yoga Jam. “We have no more time for anything but the way in which we shine.”