I Went to Dirty South Yoga Festival & It Kicked My Azz
The most prominent thing all who attended the Dirty South Yoga Fest had in common, was that we loved yoga. We loved yoga because it taught us how to meet our edge graciously while honoring our boundaries. We loved yoga because it not only has led us down a path of awareness to learn and fall in love with ourselves, but it has also transformed our lives to find, do, and be what feels good.
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The owners of Tipple & Rose Tea Parlor and Apothecary asked me to assist them for at the yoga convention, and I couldn’t have been more ecstatic to attend. I had been needing to step outside of my comfort zone, and I thought what better way than to engage within a community that I was already introvertedly active. I hadn’t expected to participate in the classes, so when the opportunity presented itself, I felt like my birthday blessings had sailed in early.
Yoga has become more accessible with YouTube, free yoga classes, and donation-based sessions for sharing yoga with all human beings. Yet and still it can be a daunting industry to downward dog into with the rampage of thoughts like, am I wearing the right outfit? Am I doing the poses correctly? Is she secretly judging me in her head? And dammit I forgot to paint my toenails!
Now forward fold and shake all of those ego-centric thoughts out of your hair because it’s time to get centered.
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In its sixth year, Dirty South Yoga Festival kicked off its “real. raw. southern yoga” weekend with a party on Friday night. Featuring Ruby Velle at Mason Fine Art, the evening was complete with a vendor market and Ketel One Botanical cocktails. Thankfully no one drank like a matsyasana, as check-in on Saturday was bright and early at 9:00 a.m. at the Loudermilk Conference Center in Downtown Atlanta.
Over the next two days, the festival schedule included over 50 classes taught by local instructors, wellness workshops, spa treatments, food trucks, and shopping with wellness and eco-conscious vendors. Saturday’s schedule included your choice of four classes, and Sunday’s schedule included your choice of three classes before the closing wellness bazaar.
I opted to skip the morning sessions on Saturday to instead get a feel for the flow of the yoga event. Women were shining bright like diamonds from the glitter bar and taking pictures of their new glow with Magic City Glitter. By lunch, everyone was buzzing with energy and hungry for more inversions and body heat through vinyasa sequences.
“We each have a wise inner guide within that is longing for our attention” - Natalie Biniaz
Feeling a little triggered from anxiety over the past few months, I chose to release that stress through a guided theta wave Hatha yoga class with Sara Kleiner. She led us through a grounding meditation set to 6 Hertz. The wave frequency aids in deep relaxation, like what you experience in REM sleep. After the session, I felt like I was floating on a cloud. My demeanor was so calm and trance-like that I’ve since incorporated meditating daily for 15-20 minutes at 5-6 Hertz.
I wanted to attempt Intro to Acro Yoga next to practice partners yoga with my new yogi buddy, Jada, but I got mixed up and found myself in Yoga Playground with Evan “Eazy” Hall.
I’m a firm believer that the universe guides us to where we need to be to learn valuable lessons, and I found myself in a space where my heart needed to open and be more playful with life.
He took us through quick, fun drills to lay solid foundations for an inversions practice, and the energy shared encouraged me to fly from my heart in ways that I’ve never played before. I highly recommend checking out his morning mobility routine on YouTube.
On Sunday my hips and legs were so sore. I somehow got a bruise on my right thigh, but I was eager to do more and try new things. Everyone was begging for caffeinated tea from Tipple & Rose to pep ourselves up, and their Turmeric Ginger herbal tea hit the spot to keep me engaged during CBD yoga with Deanna Panza.
Panza taught us how to dose with CBD, whether topically, smoking, or ingesting the cannabidiol to reduce inflammation, calm anxiety, and/or optimize brain health. While she talked, the group shared Blue Ridge Hemp Co’s muscle gel, joint care oil, and calm & relax oil.
What I thought was a class with an emphasis on Hatha yoga and ease, I conversely found myself increasing body heat with an intense 30 minutes of Vinyasa yoga. Nonetheless, it was eye-opening to see so many women and men curious about and already implementing CBD to relieve pain versus popping analgesics every 4 to 6 hours.
After that quick Vinyasa flow, I had low energy reserves. Mockingly, I found myself in Core for Inversions with Dominique Davis because I was a tad late for Queer Yoga Deep Stretch. Talk about being pushed to the edge! Dominique’s body is flawless, and you’d be inspired by how much strength she’s fostered inside her small frame.
After that class, I wanted nothing more than to rest and lie doooowwwwnnn.
I’d hoped Into the Depths (Sound Bath Experience) with Danielle Hall would be the solution. With eye mask in place and wrapped in a blanket, I was comfy comfy as we allowed the women to blanket us in the sound waves produced from their chants, gongs, singing bowls, and maracas. Although I wasn’t able to snag a spot to lie down on the floor, I caught my mouth agape as my head nodded back on several occasions. Mission accomplished.
We quickly closed the ceremony by thanking our ancestors before heading to the wellness bazaar, which included vendors like Hot Mom Fitness and Wellness, Doctor D’s Sparkling Probiotic Beverages, Yoga Pops, and the Aura Weaver. With a resounding Om, we linked our bubbling energy to carry us until the next time we all meet.
If I didn’t remember anything else at Dirty South Yoga Fest, I learned to be more open, kind, and gentle with myself. In turn, I can extend that same energy towards others, instead of becoming judgey wudgey with my growing awareness.
We were all there to learn more, explore our practices on a deeper level, and add some social depth to our sometimes rigid yoga rituals.
We were all brought together as lifelong learners and seekers of our inner light. To explore and be more playful on and off the mat was the game of the weekend.
After the fatigue of taking 5 classes over two days had set in, and the circle of energy cultivated was closed, I was left with an emptiness of now what? How do I maintain this momentum of practicing yoga daily, and how can I connect with these open, mindful souls again?
I was gently reminded that one of my commitments is to become a yoga instructor and teach others interested in shedding their sedentary lives and trauma that there’s ambition inside all of us. It’s simply waiting for us to return back to that inner voice that whispers our capabilities of greatness.
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What intentions are you setting for the weekend or for the month ahead?
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I’m Bianca Monique, a freelance writer with a bisexual slant on wellness, travel, tech, and sustaining flexible businesses that create wealth.
We’ve all been gifted one life to live, and my job is to teach you how to follow your heart compass towards independence and joy. I’m a hot toddy sippin', festival lovin’, LGBTQ content strategizing, Om addict.