I recently had the opportunity to teach at a LARGE music festival….and damn, I wasn’t prepared for the magic that was about to unfold.
Let me give you the whole backstory, so that we’re both on the same page.
Okeechobeee Music & Arts Festival just wrapped their first ever event here in Florida. The festival was organized and executed by the Bonaroo team, meaning it was destined to be an EPIC sold out experience.
And yes, it did sell out with just under 40,000 people attending.
I had the opportunity to teach yoga at the festival, two morning classes, plus bring my main squeeze along for the ride/to take photos of me/to be my sidekick/because he’s the best ever.
Leading up to the festival, I did my normal yoga class preparations – wrote out a sequence, created a playlist via Spotify, picked out some cute outfits, and ran through the sequence a handful of times.
But….none of that mattered on the morning of.
What I thought would be a small class of 10-20 students, morphed into a gathering of 200+ yogis who all united to breathe, move, and raise their vibration together.
One after another, yogi after yogi, the gathering became….
BIGGER, BIGGER, and BIGGER.
I had no microphone, no speaker system for the playlist, and no platform to elevate myself for demos. Basically, I had to let go of my plans & just go for it!
Below are seven takeaways from this yoga teaching experience. These learned lessons can be applied off our mats, past our yoga practice, and and into all of our everyday lives. So if you’re not a yoga teacher, don’t click away – this post is also for you!
1. Focus on the Students, Not You.
I learned this tip in my yoga teacher training & I will always remember it to this day.
It’s never about the yoga teacher – your outfit, your body, your playlist, or your popularity – it’s about the experience you gift to the students. Yes, all of the above play a role, but at the end of the class, students remember how they feel (not what you said).
I use this mantra when my nerves start to rev up and this was definitely one of those situations…. I breathed deep and reminded myself what the overall purpose was – to serve the students, and then get on with it, these yogis want a killer morning flow, so do the damn thing!
… and that’s the inner monologue that plays inside my head, LOL. Sound familiar to anyone?
2. Go with the Flow
As yoga teachers, we put a certain weight into the class being controlled – the lighting, the volume of music, when people can arrive, how people are positioned, and our ability to project our voices.
Well – I was completely shit out of luck when it came to all of the above.
At first, I wanted to freak out.
Luckily, my main squeeze (Myers) was there to talk it through with me and I worked with the situation at hand.
My solution – create a giant circle, get real close to one another, project my voice clearly to the front circles so the back circles could follow their lead.
Did that solution work?
HELL YES IT DID.
Lesson learned – go with the flow, relax your expectations, release control (because you have zero), and improvise. Make it work yogis, you got this!
3. Communicate Clearly
Because of the described scenario above, I had a serious challenge when it came time to demonstrate.
To combat this problem, I focused on my verbal cues and how they were communicated. I incorporated a lot of cueing through my hand/arm gestures & by walking amongst the crowd to make sure everyone was participating and involved.
Also, I didn’t harp too much on alignment in this specific instance, it was simply too much for how large of a crowd was present + the no microphone issue. My goal was to lead people through the sequence, in a methodical fashion, while still enjoying their movements.
4. Include Meditation
My class was titled – Flow and Grow – meaning it had to be more than just a flow if people were to grow. Yes, vinyasa flow is a powerful practice that can create growth, but the real magic happens in the moments of stillness.
Stillness = meditation. So that’s what we did!
The last minute or two was dedicated to breath work in a seated posture. And damn, I’m so happy I chose to do this.
The collective energy of 200+ people inhaling and exhaling to the same frequency was powerful beyond measure, incredibly relaxing, and the perfect way to end a flow experience.
If wanting to do this, have your students find a comfortable seat, sit up tall, and inhale for a count of 5, and exhale for a count of 5. Continue this sequence for 1-2 minutes and then lead them into savasana.
5. Move Past the Physical
In all of my classes, festival or studio, I focus on instilling confidence and goal setting into my students.
If you follow along here, then you already know I’m a sucker for goals, reflections, and being a badass. So that’s exactly what I harped to this group of people – be a badass, period.
Stop letting false beliefs stand in your way. Remove obstacles that are holding you back. Breathe into your body to make space for new opportunities. Release negativity. Strive to be the best version of yourself.
And use yoga as a vehicle to get you there!
6. Incorporate Gratitude
Gratitude – another must-do in all of my classes & something I strive to practice in my personal life too (via my gratitude journal).
Typically, I’ll encourage students to focus on three things they’re grateful for in that moment, the first three things that come to mind, and then to breathe into those points of focus.
This usually takes place after meditation or after savasana (in fetal pose). But truthfully, a gratitude scan can be cued whenever and however throughout the class!
7. Set an Intention
And lastly, to wrap up the beautiful practice, encourage students to set an intention for the festival experience ahead.
Because this festival was VERY large, I encouraged people to act with kindness, to be patient, to show respect to the festival grounds, to be thankful for their attendance, and to be kind & loving towards other festival goers.
Setting an intention can vary far and wide within the yoga practice, it can happen before/during/after the class, it can be a led intention or completely made up by the students – there’s truly no rules here, so go with the flow & feel out your present vibe!
Yogis – I can’t express in words the incredible feeling that accompanied teaching SO MANY BEAUTIFUL SOULS. It was a first for me and one that I hope to repeat, time and time again.
If you attended Okeechobee and made it to my morning flow classes, thank you for sharing your energy with me + the festival. And if you didn’t catch me, let’s hope we meet again next year.
To all the festival goers out there, I encourage you to participate in the yoga community while there. Not only is it good for your being, but the entire being of the festival.
Until next time – xoxo.
Hey! I’m Allie.
I’m a self-growth student, freedom-seeker, yoga teacher and the founder of a tight-knit online yoga community: the Body Mind Soul Studio. I’m here to teach you how to transform your life on-and-off-the-mat with a holistic yoga practice.
I wanna learn it all!
The Yoga Reset Guide is my FREE 7-step journey to deepen your practice and recenter your body, mind and soul. Self-paced, no equipment necessary, perfect for beginners AND veteran yogis.