From SF Yoga Magazine:
Suzanne Bryant, yoga instructor, documentary filmmaker and founder of the online yoga festival, Yoga Is, spoke with SF Yoga Magazine about her inspiration for creating the dynamic event. The next festival launches April 7, 2016, featuring more than 30 interviews and classes with luminaries including Janet Stone, Kia Miller, Sally Kempton and Krishna Das.
Can you tell us a little about how you came up with the idea for an online yoga festival?
SB: The online festival came out of creating the film, Yoga Is, A Transformational Journey. The film documents how I turned to yoga in a deeper way after I lost my 57-year old mother to cancer. Yoga really grounded and anchored me during that time. I was able to face everything with sadness and pain, but I was able to deal with it. Yoga was the practice for me. After the film was released, I received about 30,000 emails from people all over the world, writing about how the film had changed their lives. So many people bared their hearts out to me. And I thought, what if we could gather some of the most influential people that I have met in my life and practiced with and read their books – people who have helped me on my journey—and make their work accessible to everyone around the globe?
Can you talk about the online format of the festival?
SB: I love going to festivals, but the idea of having a festival online is making yoga accessible to everyone – the price is $49.00, with unlimited access for a year. The idea is that we can bring together yogis together from all over the world — all kinds of people interested in health and wellness, in karma and connecting to their purpose. With the online format, they can be inspired again and again. When I was reaching out to the teachers, everyone was excited to be a part of it – they loved that they would have a unique interview that would come from the heart, something they really want to teach people. And almost every teacher in the festival has an interview and a class.
What was your vision for the festival’s line-up?
SB: I wanted to have a variety of teaching styles and practices because everyone connects to particular styles of yoga. And I also wanted to open up other possibilities for people as well; I wanted to create something that was diverse. There are a lot of teachers on the line-up that I personally practice with and love. I love Allen Finger; I did my teacher training with him. I love the music of Michael Franti – it has been such a part of my life. I love Krishna Das; his music has really touched my soul and it brings me back to my trips to India and connects me to my practice. Deepak Chopra is someone who bridges spirituality in a modern way. I love Kundalini , Ashtanta, Jivamukti, and I use those practices when I teach – if I had just stuck with one style I would have missed out on so much.
What is your favorite part of organizing and directing the festival?
SB: My favorite part is being on location and interviewing all these great teachers and masters and luminaries, and being reminded of my practice and why it’s so important to me. I’m so excited about sharing it with everyone. I love seeing the festival come to life. We all have ideas and it’s so important to step into them. Ideas are like stepping stones – when you have an idea, you have already placed it on the ground, and then it’s just stepping forward, going after our dreams, letting go of fear, and the universe supports us. Witnessing the transformation of our dreams into reality is so powerful – and it’s just commitment, really. We all have a reason we’re here. We’re just vehicles. I’m so excited to interview all these amazing teachers and make this happen. We’re not separate, and it’s so fun to connect.
Where are people tuning in from?
SB: People have registered from all over the world – from the United States to the Middle East to Russia to the smallest islands in the Pacific, from Qatar to a tiny island off India. Yoga is union; it’s oneness and it allows us to come together as one. That is the beauty of this practice, too, that we turn to yoga for support during a change or a challenge and we realize that through yoga, through that union, we’re all one, that we’re all going through things in our lives, that all these challenges and changes happen to everyone. Yoga allows the healing and support to happen – it’s powerful.
Interview by Ashley Shires for SF Yoga Magazine