What Will You Discover?

by Jill Rivera Greene, Conference Blogger

Pilgrimage is a spiritual tradition that has persisted for millennia and can be found in nearly every major religion. Whatever their destination, all pilgrims share a common desire for transcendence—through contemplation, an experience of awe, or a glimpse of the divine.

Although the word itself carries the faint whiff of an exotic locale, a pilgrimage does not have to be difficult or long. An inward journey can be just as meaningful as a physical trek.

Melissa Phillips-Hagedorn, founder and director of the Northwest Yoga Conference, has this to say about her own recent pilgrimage:

This summer, I attended a 9-day meditation retreat at Cloud Mountain Retreat Center in southwest Washington. As it was the first retreat that I have ever attended, I had no idea what to expect. Though it was certainly challenging, I am so grateful that I created the space to attend. The retreat allowed me to know myself on a much more intimate level than I ever have before and provided support in continuing to nurture wholesome qualities.

The retreat she describes has all of the necessary qualities of a pilgrimage, including an intentional separation from the familiar, time and space for deep discovery, and lessons brought back to enrich one’s everyday life.

cropped-NWYC16-Poster-LineUpAnnounce.pngThat’s why it felt so right when Melissa announced that the theme for the 2016 Northwest Yoga Conference would be, “Pilgrimage of the Soul.” Attending last year’s Northwest Yoga Conference truly felt like a pilgrimage to me! I had been practicing asana for about a year, but I had not yet experienced anything like this three-day immersion into yoga philosophy, community, and practice.

Making the commitment to leave behind my daily routine of home, work, and kids for three days was challenging. But by stepping into new and unfamiliar territory, I discovered so much—from a fresh appreciation of the Bhagavad Gita, to an expanded village of fellow yogis, to reservoirs of physical strength and stamina I didn’t realize I had … along with, yes, a few new sore muscles! The experience definitely took my commitment to and practice of yoga to the next level.

This year’s conference offers a similar opportunity for all who are willing to take the first step. No matter where you are in your yoga journey—from beginner to advanced student, teacher or studio owner—there is a full schedule of workshops waiting to support you on your path to the soul. Registration is now open, and you can check out the schedule here: http://nwyogaconference.com/full-schedule/

And you don’t have to wait until March to get started! Keep an eye on this blog over the next few months as we interview conference presenters about their own pilgrimage experiences and share tips to help you prepare for your own. You can also share your own pilgrimage stories via our new Comments feature, coming soon.

We can’t wait to hear what you discover! Namaste.


Illuminate Your Chakras

By Jill Rivera Greene, Conference Blogger

chakra_dancerImagine a stack of swirling energy centers, illuminating the spine from its base to the crown of your head. Those who have vision sensitive enough to see the chakras describe them as spinning wheels of light, each radiating its own brilliant color, from red to violet.

We are not all blessed with this gift of sight, but when our chakras are unbalanced, we feel it: in mind, body, and spirit. Deficiencies in particular chakras manifest as illness or pain in related parts of the body. We experience unbalanced anger, fear, or sadness … or simply feel “stuck” in emotional patterns that repeat in relationship after relationship. We may feel depressed or disconnected from ourselves and from Spirit.

Everyone experiences some degree of imbalance in the chakras—it’s part of being human. Yoga helps to release blocks and restore balance, and at the Northwest Yoga Conference, you will find many workshops to promote optimal energy flow.

Some sessions focus on a particular chakra, through specific asanas that open and awaken related parts of the body. Annie Carpenter’s SmartFlow will take us deep into our hips, cultivating stability through the root chakra. Jeanne Heileman will help us illuminate our heart chakras through backbends, breathing techniques, and Tantric visualizations.

There will also be deliciously sequenced practices designed to support balance and alignment through all of our chakras. Join us on Friday evening for a powerful movement and music co-creation by Jill Knouse and DJ HyFi: “Rockin’ It from Root to Crown.” Or treat yourself to a vinyasa series and sound bath that will brighten your entire energy field, in Amber Tande’s Sunday morning session.

It’s not just about the poses: We hope you will take advantage of the conference’s diverse offerings to discover (or rediscover) how chanting, meditation, 10169260_710140972408514_677844912580619374_nmantras, and more can work in harmony with asanas to promote healing, well-being, and focus.

After a weekend of yoga, our chakras are bound to be moving more freely. So come practice and play with us, and get ready to enjoy more balance in all areas of your life—a healthy physical body, peaceful mind, and deep connection to Spirit.

Can’t wait until March to learn more? Explore the chakras with us in our Chakra Immersion Series, happening right now on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/nwyogaconf), Twitter (@nwyogaconf), and Instagram (@northwestyogaconference). Each week we feature a different chakra, with poses, meditations, tips from conference presenters, and exciting giveaways!