Yogafest embraces cold weather

By Jessica Campbell | IDS

POSTED AT 08:01 PM ON May. 12, 2013  (UPDATED AT 10:01 AM ON May. 13, 2013)

Despite the chilly wind, cloudy skies and cars whizzing by their “studio,” the devoted participants at Saturday’s Yogafest were not deterred from their practice and support for Pets Alive.

At 9 a.m., an unprecedented installment of Bloomington Yogafest began its day on the lawn of the Monroe County Courthouse.

The festival, coordinated by Ingrid Skoog, owner of the Art of Connection and Charlotte Walker, the Pets Alive development and communications director, acted as a fundraiser for Pets Alive.

The day was broken up into hour-long yoga practices with live music and demonstrations at 11 a.m. The events officially concluded at 2 p.m.

As part of Be Kind to Animals Week, the festival was organized to raise money for Pets Alive’s low-cost spay and neuter services.

The bridge between Skoog and the yoga community with Pets Alive was established in the planning of the Dancing with the Celebrities event later this month.

“We are bridging yoga and the community with Pets Alive for an inspiring combination,” said Skoog, a long-time yoga practitioner. “Pets Alive is an extraordinary organization. All proceeds we received today went to them.”

Divided into four sections, the lawn was split into different styles of yoga, taught by various yoga instructors from Bloomington studios.

Yoginis from Vibe Yoga, Know Yoga Know Peace, Yoga Mala and Mukti Yoga volunteered their time and expertise for the festival.

Georgia Boonshoft,a recent graduate of the Jacobs School of Music, is an instructor for Know Yoga Know Peace and participated in Saturday’s activities.

“This is the highlight of my month,” Boonshoft said. “It is a great mix of teachers and styles here.”

Skoog said she was surprised that despite the cold temperatures, the turnout was sizeable.

Walker said she agreed, confirming the future plans of making the event an annual yoga festival.

“(Yoga) is a pretty big hobby in the community,” Walker said. “There are a lot of yoginis in Bloomington and it definitely seems like people are interested.”

In addition to the yoga sessions, tables were set up in the yard presenting donated items for a silent auction. There was also a box welcoming donations for Pets Alive.

The animal shelter offers low-cost spay and neuter services to animals in the Bloomington area, as well as over 20 more counties in southern Indiana.

“We want to expand our services to more counties and get pets new and other services,” Walker said.

In each yoga session, an instructor recommends devoting the practice to a person or thing.

On Saturday, the participants were asked to devote his or her practice to the lives of animals and the problem of over-breeding.

Incorporating yoga, the festival addressed a serious issue with a fun and powerful activity.

Christine Eartheart, a participant and teacher during the festival said she  believes in the powers of laughter and joy and uses them within her yoga practice.

“Joy is in every being,” she said. “It has no boundaries.”

Though Saturday was the last day of Be Kind to Animals Week, those working at Pets Alive still advise people to make donations in support of animals.

Those who wish to make a donation can visit the Pets Alive website, http://www.spayneuterindianapets.com.

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