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Yogis Unite: Newtown Yoga Festival This Month Offers New Location, Two Headliners



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The Seventh Annual Newtown Yoga Festival is scheduled to take place Saturday, August 24, from 9 am to 4 pm, at Newtown Community Center, 8 Simpson Street.

Newtown Yoga Festival Cofounder Suzy DeYoung says the group is excited to utilize the new building and anticipates event vendors will be stationed in the hallways while the community classes will be conducted in the large multi-purpose room.

Registration is currently open online at newtownyogafestival.org, with tickets costing $40 in advance. There will also be tickets sold the day of for $50. The event is free for anyone younger than 16.

Attendees are requested to bring their own yoga mat, and according to the festival’s July e-blast, everyone is encouraged to bring their old yoga mats to donate to help others.

“Donate your gently used mat, and we will send it to a yoga recipient in need in the community. Clean and roll your mat, give it one last hug, then drop it at registration. Many of the mats will be donated to children at camps and area programs,” the statement detailed.

During the nearly all-day festival, there will be a wide range of yoga activities for all ages.

“All experience levels [are] welcome,” Ms DeYoung said. “The Yoga Buffet will have a sampling of different styles open to regular yogis and those who rarely, or even never, practice. All teachers will modify poses to suit people’s style/comfort level.”

Newtown Yoga Festival Cofounder Karen Pierce added, “The Yoga Buffet will be spread throughout the two wings in the multi-purpose rooms. People can choose two of the six 30-minute mini-classes taught by local yoga teachers to try out different styles.”

The Yoga Buffet portion will include, but is not limited to, Journey Dance with instructor JoJo Keane, Yin Yoga with Rob Farella, an alignment-based yoga class with Monica DeBenedet, Eclectic Vinyasa with David Macharelli, Chair Yoga with Eileen Bryne (in the Senior Center), and Yoga Nidra with Twink McKenney.

“New this year is Chair Yoga, Yin Yoga, and Yoga Nidra, which are more restorative,” Ms Pierce explained. “Chair Yoga is a great way to get started as well as good for active agers, those who have limited mobility, or [those that] just want to check out how much fun this class is!”

In the Vendor Village, there will be food from Aquarian Catering — with whom lunch can be pre-ordered before August 17 — as well as from the Community Center’s Better Day Café; live music by HannaH’s Field; and a silent auction that has its drawing at 3:45 pm, where winners must be present to collect their prize.

There will also be a kid’s yoga class with Denise Nobile, a kid’s art project with Paula Brinkman, a Sacred Sound Bath, and two main community classes.

A Safe And Welcoming Environment

Internationally known yogis Felicia Tomasko and Stephen Cope will be headlining the 2019 Newtown Yoga Festival. Ms Tomasko will be instructing the 11 am community class, and Mr Cope will be teaching the 1:30 pm community class.

“Felicia Tomasko integrates more than 20 years of study of the ancient approaches of yoga and Ayurveda with her training and licensure as a registered nurse,” Ms DeYoung said.

Ms Tomasko is also the editor-in-chief of La Yoga magazine and serves on the Board of Directors of the California Association of Ayurvedic Medicine and the National Ayurvedic Medical Association.

Mr Cope is a psychotherapist, the author of six books, and currently a Senior Scholar in Residence at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Lenox, Mass.

“Stephen’s focus is on the examination of the psychology, neurobiology, and spirituality of deep human connection and the imperatives of human attachment — an issue of great importance to both the Eastern and Western tradition,” Ms DeYoung said.

“As this year’s theme is grief, loss, and renewal, Stephen and Felicia will touch on how the healing practices of yoga on and off the mat make it easier to navigate difficult emotions and move forward in life,” Ms DeYoung said. “Mindfulness-based meditation practices and body-centered movement for integration allow us to release the pain of loss and reconnect our mind, body, and spirit with love.”

The theme is especially poignant to Newtown Yoga Festival members and the community in respect to neuroscientist Dr Jeremy Richman’s death by suicide on March 26, 2019.

Mr Richman and his wife founded the nonprofit The Avielle Foundation to “prevent violence and build compassion through neuroscience research, community engagement, and education,” and to honor their daughter, Avielle Richman, who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting on 12/14.

The Newtown Yoga Festival is a part of The Avielle Foundation.

“How the fest will impact attendees depends on each person’s unique story, of course,” Ms DeYoung said. “Those who have experienced a good deal of grief and sorrow in their lives may find it helpful, or even difficult, as yoga can bring up complex emotions.”

She added, “[We are] hoping we can provide a safe and welcoming environment in which to feel and to process those emotions. For those of us at the foundation, it will be bittersweet given the loss of our director, Dr Jeremy Richman, this past March. Jeremy loved this event. He will be missed.”

Proceeds from Newtown Yoga Festival will go to The Avielle Foundation and are put toward yoga/mindfulness programs for the community.

Organizers are still accepting vendors and volunteers for the event. Those interested in being a vendor can e-mail julie.shull@att.net and those looking to volunteer can e-mail rene@yogaconnectionnyc.com.

For more information about the Newtown Yoga Festival, visit newtownyogafestival.org.

Felicia Tomasko will be instructing the Newtown Yoga Festival’s morning community class at 11 am on Saturday, August 24, at Newtown Community Center.  —photo courtesy Newtown Yoga Festival

Stephen Cope will be instructing the Newtown Yoga Festival’s afternoon community class at 1:30 pm on Saturday, August 24, at Newtown Community Center.  —photo courtesy Newtown Yoga Festival

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