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Editor’s Note: Since this article was published, the organizers of the Radiance Yoga and Wellness Festival have changed the venues of the event. The article has been updated to reflect that change.
By Nora Lowe
On June 18, O2 Living Sanctuary in Cross River will be transformed into a “yoga village” thanks to the efforts of a team bringing Westchester’s first yoga and wellness festival to life.
The Radiance Yoga and Wellness Festival is the brainchild of Michelle Prosper, founder of Ora Studios in Mount Kisco who has 15 years of yoga instructor experience.
Now Prosper is using her extensive expertise to make yoga and wellness more accessible to Westchester residents.
“Not everyone can get out of town for three days,” said Prosper, acknowledging that yoga retreats tend to be expensive and can be difficult for parents to leave their children.
That was her motivation behind creating a day-long local event.
The festival will grant access to an array of programming, including classes (e.g., Pilates, sound healing and tai chi), lectures, workshops, body painting, shopping and food from vendors such as Ladle of Love. Big brand name Athleta is sponsoring the event.
Additional sponsors such as O2 Living Sanctuary and Bulletproof are offering free festival favors. There will be a photo/selfie station, mindful craft activities and a meditation tent as well.
There are 12 instructors and presenters and about 15 to 20 vendors who will be on hand.
A portion of the proceeds will be donated to WMN Unite, an organization that financially assists women participating in opportunities related to education, health, wellness and sustainability.
Jodi Robin, the festival’s marketing and communications director and eight-year student of Prosper’s, calls the event “an opportunity to get outside, to be healthy and to learn new things,” while praising the breadth and depth of the offerings.
Festival organizers emphasize that the event is designed to cater to a range of experiences and comfort levels.
Robin said whether you’re new to yoga, getting back into it after being away, super fit or looking for something slow, there will be something suitable for everyone at the festival. The target audience for each class is noted on the itinerary, and there will be assistants available to help novices.
Prosper’s “small but mighty” organizing team of eight prides themselves on “creating an atmosphere where people can come as they are.” They are hoping the day is a chance for the community to heal after the pandemic.
“No matter what you’ve been through, cause we’ve all had so much coming at us, this is a chance to just…receive the joy, the abundance, the release,” she said.
There will also be the chance to support local artisans and teachers like Jen Pignone, owner of O2 Living Sanctuary. She completed her yoga instructor training with Prosper and is teaching at the festival and sponsoring it through O2.
“Our community needs an event centered around…connection, mindfulness and health, especially coming out of some rough couple of years,” Pignone said.
Lauren Porat, the owner of YogaSpark, who is also teaching at the festival, also observed the toll the pandemic took on the yoga industry.
“I can’t tell you how many people just stopped practicing because it wasn’t the same online,” she said.
Porat is looking forward to the festival because “for most people, it (yoga) is best done in community and in-person.”
It’s apt that this celebration of yoga, a practice with roots thousands of years old, will be taking place at John Jay Homestead, a historic landmark.
“The past always sets the stage for us to evolve into what’s here for us in the present,” said Prosper. “The practice of yoga…encourages people to come and be present. And when you’re present…you’re releasing attachment to the past…what bogs you down. You’re releasing worry of what you have to do next, what’s coming up, and you’re simply just there.”
Tickets to the festival cost $140. The grounds open at 9:30 a.m. with the program beginning at 10 a.m. O2 Living Sanctuary is located at 792 Route 35 in Cross River.
To buy tickets or for more information, visit https://radianceyogafestival.com.
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