All six of the Texas Yoga Conferences that Jenny Buergermeister has organized have been hosted in a different location, but this year she thinks they've finally found a home at the new ISKON Hare Krishna Houston temple in Oak Forest. "One of the benefits of moving around was to connect and show unity with each location," said Buergermeister. "When we were at the George R. Brown people were like, "Wow! You've really made it now!" but now we want to get traction; to plant a seed, and let it grow."
As always, the Texas Yoga Conference features an impressive lineup of instructors from around the state, and around the country. Yoga enthusiasts will recognize names like Robert Boustany, Dana Damara, and local Forrest Yoga rockstar Catherine Allen--and these are just a few of the dozens of teachers who will lead three days of classes and workshops on February 20-22.
The mix of national and local teachers offers TYC attendees the opportunity to try a little bit of everything all at once. You can practice with your favorite instructor from your local studio in the morning, and then with Washington, D.C.-based teacher/poet Hawah in the evening. The opportunity to practice with new and different instructors is no less a draw for the out-of-town talent, said Hawah, who returns for his third Texas Yoga Conference this year. "It's an opportunity for me to learn--to take a master class. Having a whole weekend to practice and study is both relaxing, and inspiring."
The roster of presenters allows attendees to sample a large sampling of instructors from across the state. "Most of the schedule is Texas Proud," according to Buergermeister. "We offer diversity, and we always want to bring back popular [national] speakers and presenters, but we also get to showcase the people who are here, offering yoga and health and wellness programs in our own community."
Come for the yoga, stay for the health benefits, because the Texas Yoga Conference is offering a lot more than back-to-back asana sessions--it's offering an opportunity for all-around improved health. "No one can deny the research about the basic benefits of yogic practices, particularly the breath-centered practice," explained Jenny. "The Texas Yoga Conference is for everyone, because health and wellness are for everyone. It has nothing to do with religion, or the color of your skin--it only has to do with the quality of your life. When you practice mindfulness, everything else falls into place."
Dallas-based teacher Rebecca Butler is returning for her third TYC, and says her transition from the corporate world to full-time yoga teacher was very much inspired by the pursuit of wellness. After moving back to her native Fort Worth to care for her ailing mother she left the corporate world and began teaching yoga full-time. "Yoga is about celebrating your mobility," said Butler. "I lost my mom and my best friend to ALS, and sitting by her bedside I realized what true strength and grace are all about. Being able to face your death head-on is more important than pressing from crow to handstand. We take so much for granted--breathing, moving, swallowing, and little things like wiggling fingers and toes. If I can spark just one person to get excited that they can open their eyes, and breathe, and move today, my job is done."
A yoga conference might sound intimidating to a novice practitioner, but it's actually the perfect place to discover and deepen a burgeoning practice. "The conference is a fertile place for a beginner," said Hawah. "Don't get caught up in the idea of getting your foot behind your head. What's important is that you are tapping into a great community." It's not just about the asanas, said Hawah, but about tapping into all of the access points the conference has to offer--philosophy, history, chakras, deep breathing--and developing paths of discovery through them.
Houston-based teacher Sapha Arias is returning for her third Texas Yoga Conference this year, and she also encourages new practitioners to visit the conference and explore all of the facets of their growing practice. "There is nothing to fear," said Arias. "The idea that one needs to be hyper-flexible, able to perform acrobatics, be super-thin or even deeply spiritual is a misrepresentation of what yoga can truly do for us all. The truth is, if you can breathe, you can practice yoga."
You can find the full Texas Yoga Conference schedule here. For more information on the yoga teachers above, check out their websites: Rebecca Butler, Sapha Arias, and Hawah. You can also find information on Hawah's non-profit work and film project at One Common Unity and Fly by Light.